Former two-division UFC title challenger Chael Sonnen believes the UFC may struggle to sell a fourth fight between arch-rivals Conor McGregor and Dustin Poirier, especially given the ways the Irishman lost this year.
In the first half of 2021, McGregor and Poirier reignited a rivalry that began in 2014 when the Irishman knocked “The Diamond” out at UFC 178. While McGregor went on to become a simultaneous two-division, Poirier fought his way up the rankings, and secured interim title glory in 2019.
After falling short of regaining the lightweight gold against Khabib Nurmagomedov in 2018, McGregor rebounded against Donald Cerrone last January, before pursuing the 155-pound title once again. That goal hit a roadblock when Poirier became the first man to knock McGregor out in their rematch at UFC 257 in January.
With the score at one win apiece, a blockbuster trilogy showdown was set up six months later at UFC 264. Most were hoping for a definitive ending to the feud, but instead were dealt an inconclusive one. In the final seconds of the opening round, which had been dominated by Poirier, McGregor suffered a brutal broken leg.
Sonnen: Logic Says Poirier Would Smoke McGregor
Given the anticlimactic ending to their third meeting inside the Octagon, many, including UFC President Dana White, have suggested a fourth clash has to happen when McGregor fully recovers from his injury. However, not everyone agrees.
Speaking in a video uploaded to his YouTube channel, Chael Sonnen said that given the fact McGregor failed to beat Poirier after re-motivating and re-invigorating himself, the idea that he could compete against “The Diamond” in a fourth fight would be illogical and a hard sell.
“Fighting Dustin Poirier again, man that’s a tough sell. You want to bring the wife back into it, you want to bring the backstories, you want to bring the injury – you’re going to move the needle for sure but you’re going to have to work. It’s a tough sell. Conor couldn’t beat Dustin when Conor was training his ass off. Conor got re-motivated, reinvigorated, retrained, and couldn’t beat Dustin. We don’t know what Conor was doing for preparation but we know he was doing it.
“Now we know he’s not. That’s what an injury represents. He can’t do anything for a period of time so for sure just using logic there is no opportunity that Conor got better. There’s no opportunity to believe he’s going to be sharper in this one than he was in the last one. Conor was doing rehab, but Dustin Poirier was training for a world title fight. Just basic logic tells us Dustin is going to smoke him. Do we even need to see that? Does Conor need to put himself in that position?” (h/t MMA Junkie)
While McGregor continues his recovery, Poirier’s focus will be on his UFC 269 main event against current UFC Lightweight Champion Charles Oliveira. After securing two lucrative bags against the Irishman earlier in the year, the Louisianan will be looking to cap his 2021 with a title crowning.
McGregor recently claimed that when he’s ready to return to action, he’ll be fighting whoever is holding the 155-pound strap at the time. If it’s Poirier, perhaps a tetralogy for the gold will in store. Despite coming off two losses, it’s not hard to imagine the UFC choosing to elevate McGregor from No.9 in the rankings to number one contender if a fourth fight with Poirier is on the table.
Do you agree with Chael Sonnen? Is a fourth fight between Conor McGregor and Dustin Poirier tough to sell?