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UFC 281: Dustin Poirier, Michael Chandler fighting for a title shot, potential Conor McGregor fight

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Unlike boxing, there is not shortage of marquee UFC fights pitting the best against the best. Such will be the case at UFC 281 when Dustin Poirier and Michael Chandler clash in a showdown with both stars looking for far more than merely one win.

While the main event at Madison Square Garden features Israel Adesanya defending the UFC middleweight title against Alex Pereira, Poirier vs. Chandler is an undoubtedly big-time fight.

A former Bellator champion, Chandler, ranked fifth in the lightweight rankings, wants to reach the top of the mountain in the UFC. Poirier, ranked second, wants his contendership spot back. Unlike his rivalry with Conor McGregor, Poirier appears to not have any ill will towards Chandler. Chandler feels the same way, even with a lot on the line. 

MORE: Sign up to watch the UFC 281 PPV, exclusively on ESPN+

“Respectful tension,” Chandler told Newsday regarding the fight with Poirier. “You look at Poirier, who he is, what he’s trying to accomplish. You look at me, who I am, what I’m trying to accomplish. We’re trying to accomplish the exact same thing. So no matter what, there’s going to be tension.”

The two did hit the other with verbal jabs at UFC 276. That was then. This fight is about two years in the making. The battle-tested warriors are past previous drama and will let their fists do the talking. 

Chandler wanted to fight Poirier right when he got into the UFC. Instead, Chandler beat Dan Hooker via TKO in his UFC debut at UFC 257. In the main event of that card, Poirier beat McGregor via TKO. Poirier would beat McGregor again, but lost to Charles Oliveira for the UFC lightweight title. Chandler lost against Oliveira for that title, but recently rebounded with a front kick knockout of Tony Ferguson at UFC 274. 

Before UFC 274, Chandler lost to Justin Gaethje in an all-out war at UFC 268 inside MSG. Now, he is ready to go to war again inside The Garden, this time against Poirier.

Betting odds for Dustin Poirier vs. Michael Chandler

Per Caesars, Poirier is the -200 favorite, while Chandler is the +170 underdog. 

MORE: How does scoring work in MMA?

Are Dustin Poirier and Michael Chandler fighting for a UFC title opportunity?

Between two heavy-hitters high up in the UFC rankings, one would expect they would receive a title shot after UFC 281, right?

Not if Alexander Volkanovski has anything to say about it. 

Islam Makhachev beat Oliveira at UFC 280 to win the UFC lightweight title. Alexander Volkanovski, the UFC featherweight champion, served as the backup for the fight. He entered the ring following Makhachev’s win and agreed to a bout for the lightweight belt. While not official, there is an attempt to book a fight between the two when the UFC heads to Australia for UFC 284 in February. 

MORE: All you need to know about UFC 281: Adesanya vs. Pereira

Poirier, who has never lost two in a row in his UFC career, is not looking to start now. With 28 wins, 20 with the UFC, Poirier believes his resume is the only proof he needs for a title shot. 

“I feel like my track record, and my work speaks for itself,” Poirier told Yahoo Sports. “I don’t need to get on a platform and beg for a title shot. I’m gonna go out there and fight next weekend and let the cards fall where they may.”

Chandler told Ariel Helwani on The MMA Hour that he believes he’s next in line if he beats Poirier. He has a timeframe of the first quarter of 2023 for a shot at gold. 

Will Chandler or Poirier fight Conor McGregor? 

Outside of a title fight, what else would Chandler or Poirier do, win or lose? Everyone on the roster has called out McGregor. Would those two fighters fancy a clash with him? 

Poirier beat McGregor at UFC 264, but the “Notorious” one broke his tibia in the fight. The series is now 2-1 in favor of Poirier, and a fourth fight is always on the table. Poirier might be looking past McGregor at this point. Chandler, while focused on a title shot, is open to all options presented to him. 

MORE: Sign up to watch the UFC 281 PPV, exclusively on ESPN+

“…the good thing is, being a UFC lightweight, there is a– there’s no shortage of awesome fights on the horizon. And Conor’s got to come– got to come back eventually,” Chandler told Yahoo Sports. “So you might as well fight the most exciting guy, not just in the division, but… But Charles (Oliveira) is definitely a fight that I want. The (Justin) Gaethje fight’s definitely a fight that I want. Conor’s a fight that I want obviously. So– and obviously the Islam fight. I mean, the number one fight that I want is the title.”

A McGregor fight might seem “out there” compared to a title shot at this point. UFC president Dana White pointed out at the UFC 280 post-fight press conference that McGregor needs to be in the USADA testing pool for six months to return to the octagon. McGregor has not been in the testing pool for a while. He has been filming a movie while also recovering from his injury from the Poirier fight. 


Credit: sportingnews.com

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