Though there have only been two fights mentioned for it, UFC 281 is already shaping up to be a banger. The event, which takes place at MSG on November 12, is scheduled to feature Israel Adesanya defending his UFC middleweight title against his nemesis Alex Pereira in the main event.
The co-main event for this card is expected to Dustin Poirier vs. Michael Chandler in a bout that could determine the next title challenger at 155 lbs.
News of Poirier vs. Chandler comes a few weeks after the pair needed to be separated at UFC 276 (which was also headlined by Adesanya). At that event, cell phones caught Poirier and Chandler scuffling before ‘The Diamond’ was dragged away by security.
Recently, Chandler spoke to MMA Fighting’s Damon Martin about the match-up and the origins of his beef with Poirier.
“I agree with you on how Dustin is and how he carries himself, what he does, the champion he is, the father/husband that he is, the community servant that he is,” said Chandler (ht MMA News)—when discussing Poirier’s reputation. “I truly believe that you don’t see a lot of controversy coming out of Dustin. I think we’re very similar. He and I have had similar paths, both small-town kids getting after it. Sometimes the most similar people kinda butt heads if you will, but I think it does stem back to him saying ‘hey instead of fighting Chandler I’d rather sell hot sauce’”.
The remark that Chandler seems to be holding onto was made during Poirier’s post-UFC 257 scrum. At that event in January 2021, Poirier defeated Conor McGregor by second round TKO (for the first time). Also at that event Chandler KO’d Dan Hooker.
During that scrum Poirier told reporters that a fight between he and Chandler didn’t make any sense.
“He should fight Charles Oliveira or something,” said Poirier on the night. “Let Chandler and Charles Oliveira go at it. That doesn’t really interest me at this point. I’m going to sell hot sauce if that’s the case.”
Chandler did go on to fight Oliveira (for the vacant UFC lightweight title) and lost via second round TKO. Chandler then dropped a decision to Justin Gaethje before rebounding with a sensational front kick KO of Tony Ferguson.
Theo Von snuck some of the ’s hot sauce into Michael Chandler’s super bowl party pic.twitter.com/XG922Vk15l— Spinnin Backfist (@SpinninBackfist) February 8, 2021
“I respect him as a fighter,” said Chandler of Poirier. “I respect everyone that I’ve ever fought… that’s not what motivates us to fight each other. Every once in a while you get those real grudge matches…I’m not gonna fight him because of that verbal altercation because I don’t like him, or I’m looking to prove something. If I do fight him, I’m going to say yes and sign the contract because I want to fight for the title. He’s a guy ranked ahead of me, deservedly so, and I go out there and beat him and get the title.”