Dustin Poirier talks ‘miscommunication’ on Benoit Saint Denis fight, reveals original matchup date


UFC lightweight star Dustin Poirier feels “great” about where he stands with the promotion one week after his UFC 299 booking with Benoit Saint Denis was cast into doubt.

Poirier was tight-lipped on the specifics of what went on behind the scenes to jeopardize the fight, which co-headlines the March 9 pay-per-view in Miami. More important to him was that everything worked out.

“I don’t want to dive too deep into it,” he said Monday on The MMA Hour. “There was some miscommunication — not everybody was on the same page, and I couldn’t get a hold of somebody, and things got a little bit confusing for me, and I was waiting to hear something. But it is what it is, fight’s on.”

Poirier initially stated that the fight was off this past Thursday, later adding there was “no contractual agreement before the fight was announced and we couldn’t come to terms.” His teammate, Johnny Eblen, accused the promotion of “choosing” not to make the fight happen because it was being “stingy, in a way.” Later, Poirier confirmed the fight was back on after a “misunderstanding” with the promotion — and a conversation with his manager.

While the particulars of his agreement remain unknown, Poirier did reveal one demand he always had for the fight: That it take place over five rounds.

“I feel like the better fighter, unless something crazy happens early, the better fighter wins over five rounds,” he said. “Even if he doesn’t fatigue, or even if it’s not deep waters to him, he’s the god of war. That’s what he wants. I feel like the rhythm, timing, my experience, I pick up on that stuff the longer the fight goes, and I’ll find openings.”

Until Saint Denis beat Poirier’s teammate, Thiago Moises, the French fighter wasn’t on Poirier’s radar for a potential fight. Even when Saint Denis knocked out Matt Frevola at UFC 295 and called out Poirier, the ex-interim champ’s immediate reaction was “this guy’s got some work to do.”

When it came time to talk with the UFC about future matchups, however, Poirier said the big names he sought were not offered. Names like Conor McGregor — his three-time opponent — and Nate Diaz, a-long coveted foil, were not part of the conversation. Instead, the option was Saint Denis for UFC 300.

“I was talking with [UFC Executive] Hunter [Campbell], and we were like, maybe the opening of the [UFC 300] pay-per-view, maybe the second fight of the pay-per-view,” Poirier said. “And then [UFC 299] we started talking about, and to be the co-main event, [and] I’m like, that’s a much bigger slot. It’s close to my training camp, it’s close to home. … So just I wanted to be part of 300, but this just made more sense, I think.”

Poirier is a betting underdog for the fight, which is no great surprise since he’s coming off a knockout loss to Justin Gaethje in his previous outing. He takes no offense to the distinction and said it’s more of the same.

“I’m 35, he’s 28. He finished five guys in a row,” Poirier said of Saint Denis. “He’s finishing all of his wins in his career. Maybe that’s why, I don’t know. My whole life, I’ve been an underdog. This is where I performed the best.”

If Saint Denis is the future and Poirier is the past, Poirier said everyone will know on March 9.

“Somebody gave me my shot to crack in [to the top 15],” he said. “So I respect the game, and that’s what I’m doing. Let’s see if I still [got it]. You know the meme with the dog looking in the mirror and he’s like, checking to see if I still got that dog in me?

“Five rounds on March 9th.”


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