Dustin Poirier reacts to delays in Conor McGregor’s return, addresses his future after UFC 299

Dustin Poirier knows he’ll always be attached to Conor McGregor after their UFC trilogy.

Lately, while Poirier prepared for his return against Benoit Saint Denis at UFC 299, McGregor has been stuck awaiting word about when he’ll actually fight again. Despite his declaration that he wanted to face Michael Chandler in June and then possibly finish a separate trilogy with Nate Diaz in September, McGregor said on Tuesday that the “lack of action” to get him back in the cage is causing him to lose enthusiasm about competing again.

July marks three years since McGregor last competed in his third bout against Poirier. Between McGregor’s time off and the extended delays in booking a fight, Poirier can’t say with any certainty that his longtime rival will ever return again.

“Who knows,” Poirier said of McGregor. “I’m a fan of the sport, so any time that guy fights, you know I’m watching. But your guess is as good as mine. Who knows if he ever comes back?”

Questions about McGregor’s future will only continue to grow until he actually books another fight, but even with his own matchup cemented for UFC 299 this weekend, Poirier actually faces a similar inquiry about what comes next for him.

Poirier made a comment recently regarding his potential retirement when asked about what happens if the fight with Saint Denis doesn’t go his way. In clarifying that comment on Wednesday, Poirier offered a harsh reminder that any fight could be his last, but not because his mind has been overrun with thoughts about hanging up his gloves for good.

“I’ve been seeing people say that a lot,” Poirier said addressing his future. “I think that’s because like a week ago I did an interview and somebody asked me, ‘Is this your last fight if it doesn’t go your way?’ I said, ‘Well, any fight could be my last one, win or lose.’

I’ve been doing this a long time so I think that’s where they ran off with it at. But we’ve just got to fight. We’ve just got to fight Saturday.”

As he approaches his 30th UFC appearance on Saturday, Poirier knows he has far less time left ahead of him than what’s already behind, but that doesn’t mean he’s finished chasing his goals.

Ideally, he’ll beat Saint Denis and then position himself for another No. 1 contender’s fight sometime later this year, because becoming UFC lightweight champion remains the only item on his bucket list that really matters.

“The undisputed world championship is like the last thing I really want to do in this sport,” Poirier said. “I feel like I’ve done a lot, not being boastful or anything but I’ve been fighting a long time. This is my 30th fight in the UFC. I’ve come up short, I’ve been victorious. It’s been a long journey. I’m thankful. I’m in a place where I’m content with everything. I’m happy with who I am and the career I’ve had and being able to provide for my family the way that I have. It’s been beautiful. That’s the fight journey.

“What’s beautiful about it to me is I’ve been fighting for 17 years and I’ve been surrounded by so many guys with the same dreams and even with the same work ethic. They get out of this sport broken and broke and beat up. I’m just thankful.”

When it comes to that title shot, Poirier likely sits behind a pair of upcoming fights that could have championship implications attached to them. Former UFC lightweight champion Charles Oliveira clashes with Arman Tsarukyan at UFC 300 while Gaethje battles Max Holloway in a BMF title fight on the same card.

Poirier isn’t looking too far ahead, but he knows with his history in the division and the résumé he’s put together, he’s never too far away from earning that same kind of opportunity.

“I think a lot of that depends on how I win,” Poirier said. “If it’s a big finish or something like that, I believe I’m a win away from a title shot with a great performance. But it rights the ship. It gets me back in the win column and we take it from there. I try not to look too far past these fights because Saturday isn’t here yet.

“We’ve got to go out there and do the damn thing, and then Sunday, that’s when we reassess and see really where we’re at and what’s next.”

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