Islam Makhachev believes that Dustin Poirier chose the money fight against Conor McGregor instead of an undisputed title fight because Poirier has already fought for the title and is now thinking about earning more money out of his fighting career.
Makhachev shared his opinion in a recent interview with Russian sports outlet RT Sport MMA. Upon being asked if he understood Dustin Poirier's decision to pursue a trilogy fight against McGregor despite being a clear top contender after lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov's retirement, Makhachev said:
"I'd definitely pick a title fight because I never had that chance. Maybe because (Dustin) Poirier already fought for the title, he's thinking more about money," Islam Makhachev said.
Islam Makhachev's opinion is in response to Dustin Poirier's recent career trajectory. UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov's retirement in October 2020 invariably put Poirier in a position to fight for the vacant title. The No.1 ranked contender scored impressive wins over Dan Hooker in June 2020 and Conor McGregor at UFC 257 in January 2021. The win laid out a solid claim to the title that he fell short of capturing from Khabib in 2019. However, Dustin Poirier showed more inclination towards completing the trilogy with Conor McGregor immediately after the UFC 257 fight, putting his title aspirations on hold.
Conor McGregor is the biggest pay-per-view star in MMA history and the financial prospects of being in a McGregor fight outweigh all other benefits for most fighters. Furthermore, winning the trilogy against the Irishman is a big achievement in itself if Poirier can defeat McGregor in the third fight, which is expected to take place around the Summer of 2021.
Dustin Poirier's shadow looms over the next lightweight champion's legitimacy
The UFC's repeated attempts to bring Khabib Nurmagomedov out of retirement did not come to fruition and UFC president Dana White broke the official news of Khabib's retirement through his social media accounts.
In light of Khabib's retirement, the UFC announced the vacant lightweight title fight between No.3 ranked Charles Oliveira and No.4 ranked Michael Chandler for UFC 262, scheduled to take place on May 25, 2021.
Given the evolution of MMA and Conor McGregor's inactivity in recent years, it is most likely that Dustin Poirier will emerge victorious in the trilogy fight and challenge the lightweight champion next. However, if Oliveira or Chandler loses their title to Dustin Poirier, the champion he will win the title from will forever go down as the transitionary chapter in the lightweight saga following Khabib Nurmagomedov's retirement.