Former UFC star Chael Sonnen has suggested that lightweight contender Dustin Poirier should dismiss talk of him facing Beneil Dariush next February.
This past weekend at UFC 281, Poirier returned to action for the first time since his devastating failed championship challenge against Charles Oliveira at UFC 269 last December.
Initially after the result, “The Diamond” seemed disheartened and demotivated. But just like after his first defeat in an undisputed title fight in 2019, he rebounded upon his return. This time, Poirier did so by becoming the first man to submit former Bellator champion Michael Chandler in professional MMA.
Having added the name of “Iron” to his lengthy and impressive record, Poirier maintained his position at #2 in the lightweight rankings. With that, and given his apparent newfound desire to compete, many have suggested that the Louisianan is only one win away from another crack at the gold.
That appears to be the sentiment from Khabib Nurmagomedov, who played matchmaker for his former opponent on social media following UFC 281.
With his protégé and reigning 155-pound titleholder Islam Makhachev set to face the challenge of featherweight king Alexander Volkanovski at UFC 284 next February, Khabib suggested that Poirier make the lengthy trip to Australia to meet Dariush.
Like Makhachev, Dariush was also successful last month at UFC 280, stalling the surge of Mateusz Gamrot to stake his claim for a title shot. But whilst many believe that the Iranian-born American has done enough to deserve a championship opportunity, he’s had to pause his ambitions while Volkanovski pursues champ-champ status.
With that in mind, a possible clash with Poirier could certainly serve as a title eliminator, as well as syncing up the future number one contender’s timeline with the headline victor.
However, one former two-division title challenger doesn’t believe a trip to Perth is in the best interest of Poirier…
Sonnen Advises Poirier To “Manoeuvre Around” Tough Dariush Fight
During a recent video uploaded to his YouTube channel, former fighter-turned-analyst Chael Sonnen assessed Khabib’s matchmaking suggestion.
While he noted that the pairing would be beneficial for the Russian as it would provide possible backups for his man’s main event showdown, he suggested that the turnaround would be too quick for Poirier.
“I don’t think he wants the belt… I think Poirier wants to do big fights,” Sonnen said. “It was suggested by Khabib that Poirier fight Benny Dariush, that he come out to Perth and do that… To finish that thought, Khabib thought you’re the two best guys, Islam’s on top of the bill, if anything happens to Volkanovski, there’s two guys ready and willing.
“Let’s look at that. Should Dustin do it? No, no. I am never the guy that’s against a fight… (but) the fight in Perth isn’t that far away… So Dustin’s gonna need to recover from that fight, the one that he just had,” Sonnen added. “Then once you’re recovered, you have to re-find it. You might as well have taken off two months.”
More than just the quick timeframe for him to prepare, Sonnen also questioned what would be in it for Poirier, whom he already suggested doesn’t seem determined to chase the belt despite boasting a possible claim to a shot following his victory over Chandler.
According to “The American Gangster,” the #2-ranked contender should hold out to ensure that he either fights Dariush with gold on the line or avoids the matchup altogether.
“What would he get for it? He’s a main event guy, that’s not a main event,” Sonnen noted. “It’s Perth. I mean, nobody seems to be talking about that. Do you guys not know?” Sonnen said before laughing. “If Benny does nothing… Benny would then fight for the championship… If Benny does a fight between now and then… If he wins, he then fights for the championship.
“If that’s true, why would Dustin go fight him? Let me give you a different scenario. Dustin doesn’t fight him, Benny goes and fights for the championship and wins, Dustin comes and fights him; now it’s a championship fight. Benny goes and fights for the championship and loses, now Dustin has surpassed (him) and never has to deal with him at all,” Sonnen continued. “When you have those really hard fights, if there’s a way to maneuver around it, maneuver around it.”
Despite Sonnen’s assessment, Poirier’s post-fight remarks this past weekend would suggest he shares a different sentiment. During his post-fight interview, “The Diamond” said that a matchup with a Dariush who’s earned his stripes “makes a lot of sense.”
Do you agree with Chael Sonnen’s take on a possible Dustin Poirier vs. Beneil Dariush matchup?
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