UFC chief Dana White really tried his hardest to lure former lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov out of retirement.
The pair even met for a crunch dinner meeting last week, but Khabib remained true to his word with the 29-0 superstar reaffirming his decision to hang up the gloves.
This decision left White with a vacant title fight to fill and expectant fans demanding a quality match-up. The UFC have since commissioned a replacement fight between Michael Chandler and Charles Oliveira for UFC 262.
While many fans are happy with this match-up, some may be shocked to find out that Chandler v. Oliveira was not the UFC Chief’s first choice.
When speaking to TSN, White announced that the promotion initially offered Dustin Poirier the opportunity to fight for the title, only to have him turn them down.
It is little wonder that the UFC wanted Poirier to fight it out for the 115lb title. The American has 11 wins since joining the division in 2015 and has ranked first in the UFC lightweight rankings.
White went on to confirm that Poirier had chosen to go for the trilogy against Conor McGregor.
That series is now tied at one win apiece, with Poirier winning earlier this year and McGregor knocking out Poirier in a similar fashion at their first meeting back in 2014.
Despite the snub, White was complimentary of Poirier’s decision to pass up the UFC title fight.
Speaking during the UFC 260 pre-fight press conference on Thursday, the UFC chief said:
“Dustin wants the rematch [with Conor McGregor], that’s smart. That’s what he should do. He should take the rematch, take that fight. It’s a big fight for him.
“Kid’s worked hard his whole life, his whole career to be in a position like this. That’s the fight you take. We’ve been in positions like this before with others who have made the mistake of not taking that fight, and [it was the] biggest mistake of their lives.”
Returning to the choice of Chandler and Oliveira for the vacant Khabib fight, White had nothing but good things to say about the new matchup, telling TSN:
“Oliveira just came off an incredible win over Tony Ferguson and looked completely dominant against a guy many people thought should have fought Khabib and was the best matchup for Khabib.
“Then Chandler came in here like a tornado and looked damn good in his last fight, so this fight made sense.”
While fans will understand the choices made from each side, many are confused as to why superstar Justin Gaethje has been left without a fight.
Some have speculated that Gaethje’s defeat to Khabib at UFC 254 had resulted in him being side-lined from any of the title fights.
White is well aware of Gaethje’s recent failures telling TSN: “Well Gaethje just lost to Khabib, just went for a title run,”
But the UFC chief quashed any rumours about the fighter’s future, going on to add:
“We will get him something good. Whoever wins this title will probably face Justin Gaethje next.”News Now - Sport News