Poirier’s inspirational journey to the top first fell short of championship glory at the hands of Khabib in 2019. A third-round submission in Abu Dhabi sent ‘The Diamond’ back to the drawing board. Like he’s done so often in his career, Poirier bounced back. He did so courtesy of a five-round victory over Dan Hooker and back-to-back triumphs over Conor McGregor in 2021.
Having found himself back opposite the champion at UFC 269, this time in the form of Brazilian veteran Oliveira, many expected Poirier to close out the year with his first undisputed crowning. Instead, the favorite fell yet again to a third-round rear-naked choke.
Khabib Thinks We’ve Seen The Last Of A Hungry Poirier
While Poirier’s loss to Khabib undoubtedly stung, his second title loss certainly hurt a lot more. That was clear in the aftermath of the result, with the former interim titleholder admitting a lack of motivation and suggesting he may never compete at lightweight again.
Having seen his post-fight attitude and disappointment, Khabib, who retired as champion following UFC 254 in 2020, believes we’ve seen the last of a motivated and hungry Poirier.
At a recent press conference, the Dagestani, who’d predicted the challenger would dethrone Oliveira, was asked what went wrong for Poirier at the final pay-per-view of the year. In response, Khabib described the inevitable decline fighters experience.
“I think every person has resources. You know, I think when a man starts a new business, in the beginning he is on fire. He is moving forward, his business is developing. But after comes a time when he goes out. He wants to withdraw money and to start a new business. And this is life… You launch a business. In the beginning, you think you are going to do it all life. But then comes a time you go out a little bit, you want to invest to other business.
“The same thing could happen with a fighter. There is a fire, a hunger, when you want it very much. Then comes a time when you still want it but not so hard. It happens when the fire went out, but there are still numbers in a contract. You think, ‘Wait, I can earn this money in a fight.’ The fighters have such moments.”
Having seen Poirier’s fire dim following UFC 269, Khabib believes he’ll never be able to find the motivation that brought him to the top again. But the former champion also described it as a natural process, something which will inevitably happen to new top lightweights like Beneil Dariush and Islam Makhachev.
“After the fight, he said he needs to think, does he need it at all? If such thoughts came to his mind, it means he will win, but he will win and lose. He will not go to the end when it will be necessary. Sometimes, you look at the athlete and see how fast he changes. I say it to my close friends. While there is a time you should stay active and keep fighting. If this switch clicks once, he will never go back. I think his switch clicked.
“The time comes. There was Frankie Edgar, Benson Henderson, Pettis, before me. Then Conor… No one stayed, everyone left. Now it is Charles Oliveira’s time. Charles came. Now it is the time of Islam, Beneil, Justin (Gaethje), Charles Oliveira. They will fight now, then they will leave too. Others will come. No one can control this and no one will be able to stop this. Time runs (out). I think everything is simple. Charles Oliveira was better; choked and left. Later, another one will come and (beat) him. He will go out, then we will talk about another one. It is such a carousel that will never be stopped.” (Transcribed by Fighting Flashback)
Khabib’s take is seemingly something Dustin Poirier himself agrees with on at least some level. Following his latest setback, he admitted he wasn’t sure what was next and suggested no potential matchup excited him.
While a clash with Nate Diaz seemed to change that, failed negotiations appear to have left ‘The Diamond’ back in limbo at the moment. We shall await to see his next step in 2022.
Do you agree with Khabib? Has Dustin Poirier’s competitive fire gone out?