Max vs Poirier: Does it Mean Khabib Will Fight an Interim Champ Next?
There is been a lot going on lately in the UFC Lightweight division. It is currently the most competitive and also the most problematic division.
An unknown situation about the future of the current champ Khabib Nurmagomedov doesn’t help this situation – Khabib only has one more fight in his contract with the UFC and he publicly announced that he won’t sign another one unless the next contract meets his terms (UFC will have to pay a lot of money to sign Khabib for 1-2 more fights).
On top of it, following his suspension for the brawl after a bout with McGregor, Khabib refused to fight until November 2019. More headache for Dana White – what to do to make more money and at the same time try to make things right and sort out this messed up situation in the division?
UFC offered Tony Ferguson, the next guy in line for the title, a fight for the Lightweight interim title against 145 lbs champ Max Holloway. In my opinion, Max at this point shouldn’t even be looked at as a contender in the stacked 155 division but I guess UFC has a different opinion on this matter. Anyway, UFC wanted Holloway to fight for 155 interim title.
“El Cucuy” refused the offer which makes sense for two reasons:
1) fighting Max is a risk for Tony. If Ferguson were to lose to Holloway, he will never again get a title shot (keep in mind Tony is already 35 years old). What Ferguson has now it’s his only chance to get more out of his career – either a huge paycheck if he fights Conor McGregor or a title shot vs Nurmagomedov.
2) Ferguson already was an interim champ and it didn’t get him anywhere. Even if Ferguson fights Max and gets a win, what is the point? To get a chance to fight Khabib which he already earned? This fight just didn’t make sense for him considering all risks.
Ferguson refused a fight so UFC made a call to Dustin Poirier who has a history of fighting Holloway. But should Dustin be even fighting for an interim belt? I don’t think so. Don’t get me wrong, Dustin is a great fighter and a great guy but he doesn’t have the potential to beat Khabib and be a champ. If that’s the case, why even give him a chance for an interim belt?! Just because he tweeted to release him from UFC?!
These guys should just release me.
— The Diamond (@DustinPoirier) February 20, 2019
So what happens next after Holloway vs Poirier fight takes place? One of them will be an interim Lightweight champ so does it mean Khabib will fight Max or Dustin next? It should make sense but it doesn’t make any sense to me: will UFC put Dustin or Max vs Khabib at this point?
I highly doubt it because these fights won’t bring as much attention as potentially Khabib vs Ferguson or Khabib vs McGregor 2.
What is the reasoning behind an “interim title” fight? I think UFC wants to build up Holloway at LW so after he beats Poirier, he will at some point fight for the actual title (with whoever it’ll be at the moment). I don’t see them throwing Max against Khabib in November because it doesn’t make sense – Max could be a future of the 155 division and if he losses to Khabib, it will be over for him – at least for a while.
It will be very interesting to see what actually happens in the near future. I think a lot of things will be clear within the next few weeks. I mean, a lot of it depends on Conor McGregor and what kind of deal UFC can make with him. McGregor is not as good as he used to be but he is still the most popular UFC fighter in the world and he is the one who will sell any fight.
I think the best option for the UFC organization if they can make McGregor vs Ferguson happen at UFC 238 in Chicago with the winner facing Nurmagomedov at some point later in the year. It will be a win-win situation for all sides involved.
What is your opinion on this matter? Do you think Khabib will fight a winner of Holloway vs Poirier fight?