On Thursday, the former interim lightweight champion dropped a message on Twitter saying “my fight’s off but still working.” Multiple sources close to Poirier and Saint Denis speaking to MMA Fighting on the condition of anonymity had no idea that the fight was apparently cancelled.
Poirier then offered additional details in a message sent to MMA Fighting’s Ariel Helwani about his fight no longer happening.
“There was no contractual agreement before the fight was announced and we couldn’t come to terms,” Poirier said.
It’s often standard practice for the UFC to announce a fight before bout agreements have been issued and signed. On Wednesday, the UFC Atlantic City card in March lost its main event when Sean Brady revealed that he was still dealing with a lingering injury that wouldn’t allow him to fight Vicente Luque.
The only problem was that Brady never actually signed for the fight in the first place, although it was still announced by the promotion.
The same issue has plagued Poirier in the past after a fight against Tony Ferguson was announced for UFC 254, only for Poirier to ultimately drop out after terms couldn’t be reached on a new contract.
At the time, UFC CEO Dana White claimed that Poirier didn’t want to fight and so the organization was moving on from the matchup.
“Listen, there’s a lot of different ways to turn down a fight,” White said in September 2020. “Negotiating yourself out of one is one of the ways you can do it. So for whatever reason, he didn’t want to take this fight. Only he knows that.”
Back in 2021, Poirier agreed to terms on a new eight-fight deal to stay with the UFC, which preceded his back-to-back fights with Conor McGregor. Based on the terms of that eight fight contract, Poirier has now competed five times under that deal, which includes a title fight against Charles Oliveira as well as clashes with Justin Gaethje and Michael Chandler.
Unless Poirier inked another extension since then, he would still have three fights remaining on his old contract, but renegotiating terms for certain matchups is oftentimes standard practice for UFC athletes. Poirier was taking a step down in the rankings to face Saint Denis, who has been ultra-impressive lately with five straight wins, all by knockout or submission, but still doesn’t sit near the top of the lightweight division.
It appears whatever negotiations happened for the fight were never concluded and now Poirier has no plans to face Saint Denis in March at UFC 299.