Dustin Poirier knows a thing or two about Conor McGregor and Michael Chandler.
Since 2021, the former interim UFC lightweight champion holds a combined 3-0 record over the two men set to headline the upcoming season of The Ultimate Fighter 31. Poirier defeated McGregor in back-to-back fights in 2021, first knocking him out with a second-round assault at UFC 257, then winning again via first-round stoppage after McGregor suffered a broken leg at UFC 264. Poirier went on to topple Chandler as well, claiming a third-round submission this past November in an action-packed affair at UFC 281.
That puts Poirier in a unique position as the most recent opponent for both men. And when asked to pick a winner between the two, “The Diamond” knows which way he’s leaning.
“I think that if Conor comes back anything like he was with his timing and rhythm, with the injury that he had and this long of a layoff, and we’re not getting any younger either — if he comes back similar to who he was before he left, I think he stops Michael Chandler,” Poirier recently predicted on The MMA Hour.
“If Conor is who he was before the injury and stuff, I think two rounds — I think the fight’s over in two rounds.”
McGregor’s health and dedication are two of the biggest question marks surrounding the fight. A former two-division champion, McGregor has competed just four times since 2016, winning only once. He’s remained out of action since badly injuring his leg in his July 2021 trilogy match with Poirier. McGregor withdrew himself from the USADA testing pool following that loss, but is expected to re-enroll in the program imminently. Once he does, he’ll be required to stay in the testing pool for six months before he is eligible to compete.
UFC president Dana White said recently that the promotion is targeting either late November or December for McGregor vs. Chandler following the airing of TUF 31.
Poirier, like many within the MMA world, is curious to see which version of McGregor shows up against Chandler — the killer of yore, or a diminished and unfocused ex-champion.
“If anybody can [dial back the clock], I think it would be him,” Poirier said. “If he’s 100 percent dedicated and focused, and put the blinders on and really go at this with all of himself, I think he can. But we’ll see, man. That’s what makes it so interesting.”
As fate would have it, Poirier has also found himself redrawn back into the McGregor orbit courtesy of the recent release of Netflix documentary series McGregor Forever.
Poirier’s two victories over McGregor are chronicled heavily in the series. “The Diamond” hasn’t fired it up yet, but it’s on his to-do list as he readies for his own much-anticipated five-round rematch against Justin Gaethje for the vacant BMF title on July 29 at UFC 291.
“I’m definitely watching,” Poirier said.
“My phone’s been blown up obviously with people watching it and telling me stuff, but I’m waiting until I get to camp and have some downtime, because I’m going to do the first week of training camp by myself, so I’m going to have plenty of time after training to get caught up on documentaries and stuff. That’s kind of what I do.”