Dustin Poirier Explains Why He Should Get the Next Shot at Khabib Nurmagomedov

Following a 'Fight of the Night' performance to defeat Justin Gaethje at UFC on FOX 29, Dustin Poirier makes his case for a title shot against lightweight champ Khabib Nurmagomedov.

After 20 UFC fights, Dustin Poirier is finally ready to challenge for gold.

On Saturday night after an epic war that saw Poirier put away Justin Gaethje by fourth round TKO, the UFC and WEC veteran is ready to cash in on a lifetime of hard work by finally being rewarded with a chance to compete for the lightweight championship.

Poirier has gone 7-1 with one no contest since returning to lightweight including wins over Gaethje, former champion Anthony Pettis and top prospect Joseph Duffy. Now he’s hoping that his latest victory will get him the first crack at new lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov.

“Because I paid my dues,” Poirier answered when asked to state his case to get the title shot. “I’ve done nothing but put hard work in. Like I said in the cage, I’ve been close to the mountaintop and I’ve been knocked down and I’ve showed resilience and fortitude and I’ve done it over and over again to put myself back in the position I’m in. I’m hitting my stride as a father, a fighter, a husband, a person, I’m just ready to go.

“Gold is next. I feel it. I feel it in the air. It smells like leather and gold out here.”

Considering the current state of the lightweight division, it’s entirely possible that Poirier’s wish is granted.

While Nurmagomedov is expected to be out until the fall as he prepares to observe Ramadan starting in mid-May, there’s no word on when former champion Conor McGregor will return to action with potential legal entanglements looming overhead after he was arrested for going berserk in Brooklyn last weekend.

Meanwhile, former interim champion Tony Ferguson just had knee surgery that might keep him sidelined for several months as he’s recovering.

The only other obstacle would be former champion Eddie Alvarez, but he’s previously turned down a rematch with Poirier after their first fight ended in a no contest thanks to a pair of illegal knees that stopped the contest in the second round.

While nothing is going to be decided immediately, UFC president Dana White raved about Poirier’s performance and added that it’s entirely possible that he gets the next shot at Nurmagomedov.

“Absolutely. He’s definitely in there,” White said about Poirier. “He’s one of the guys we were thinking about calling last week to take the fight [with Khabib Nurmagomedov at UFC 223] but I didn’t want to screw up this event and thank god I didn’t.”

First things first, Poirier has to find out how badly damaged his leg might be after eating a ton of kicks from Gaethje in their fight that left him on crutches after the event was finished. He also suffered a pair of eye pokes that left him a mess both during and after the fight.

Still, Poirier believes once he’s healed up, it’s time for a showdown with Nurmagomedov with the lightweight title going up for grabs.

“Obviously, tonight was a big night for him,” White added when speaking about Poirier. “Gaethje is very well respected in that division. Tough guy. Poirier ate, much like the Eddie Alvarez fight, tons of kicks. Could barely walk and pulled off the win.”

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Damon Martin is a veteran mixed martial arts journalist who has been covering the industry since 2003 with bylines on FOX Sports, CNN, Bleacher Report and numerous other outlets.