3 possible opponents for Dustin Poirier's UFC retirement fight

Here's who we think Dustin Poirier should fight in his final UFC fight.
Dustin Poirier
Dustin Poirier / Luke Hales/GettyImages

Dustin Poirier has been at the top of the lightweight division for almost 10 years, fighting only the best since he entered the division in 2015. Some may call him the best fighter in the UFC to never win undisputed gold, but his resume speaks for itself when you look at who he has fought.

In June we saw Poirier compete against arguably the toughest opponent of his career, Islam Makhachev, the protege of Khabib Nurmagomedov. At UFC 301, Makhachev submitted Poirier in the 5th round via d'arce choke in which was likely Poirier‘s last shot at winning the undisputed title at 155 pounds.

Poirier has fought and beat some of the UFC's best fighters in the 155-pound division including Conor McGregor (twice), Justin Gaethje, Michael Chandler, Max Holloway, and Eddie Alvarez. When listening to Poirier talk he continues to state if he is not fighting for titles then what is he fighting for?

But what about money fights? Legacy fights? If you are not fighting for gold, but are capable to do so you might as well capitalize on the possibility of financial gain for you and your family. Remember, Poirier is still ranked as the No. 4 contender in the lightweight division. There is a strong possibility we won't see him fight the young and hungry up-and-comers, but what about the big names of the UFC?

You can make the case that every one of the fighters named in this list can be the top option. The only person who can decide what is right is Poirier himself, but these are definitely fun options for everyone involved.

1. Justin Gaethje

This fight makes sense in all sorts of ways when you look at the landscape of the lightweight division. Their record against one another is one to one with each fighter winning by knockout. When you look at the lightweight rankings, Gaethje is the No. 3 ranked lightweight in the world, whereas Poirier is the No. 4 ranked lightweight.

If it wasn't for Gaethje being the entertaining fighter that he is and wanting to compete against Max Holloway for the BMF title at UFC 300, we may as well have seen Gaethje against Makhachev at UFC 301 for the lightweight title instead of Poirier.

Poirier and Gaethje fought each other for the first time in April 2018 in a 5-round main event in Glendale, AZ in which Poirier won that fight via 4th round TKO. At the time of the first fight, Poirier was ranked the No. 4 lightweight, and Gaethje was the No. 7 ranked lightweight.

They both learned a lot from fighting each other in 2018, and both seemingly were champions in their respect although both of them seem dismissive of their interim title. The two of them went on to become interim world champions at 155 pounds, and both of them lost to arguably the greatest lightweight of all time Khabib Nurmagomedov in their attempt to unify the belts to become undisputed world champions.

Fast forward to July 2023, and we get to see them face each other once again for the BMF championship previously held by Jorge Masvidal, a welterweight fighter who has since retired from the UFC. The stakes were high and seemingly enough the winner of this fight was to face the champion Islam Makhachev for undisputed gold. Or at least so we as a community made the assumption. Gaethje ended up winning the BMF belt by 2nd-round headkick knockout in spectacular fashion.

It is safe to say that we will not see either Gaethje or Poirier until 2025 if they decide to return to the Octagon. As of right now and for the foreseeable future Poirier is leaning towards retirement and Gaethje stated after his performance at UFC 300 it would be at least 6 months before he stepped back in the Octagon competitively. Who says no to seeing this fight for a 3rd time?

2. Nate Diaz

The former 155 pounder turned 170 pounder Nate Diaz is another opponent that would be a fun one to watch against Poirier. This bout never came to fruition because of a hip injury Poirier was dealing with when it was originally scheduled for UFC 230 in 2018. Diaz decided to not take another opponent on that card, and the fight was never really discussed by the UFC brass to be rescheduled publicly.

The two have continuously gone back and forth at each other on social media about who would beat who. Again, who says no to this fight? Two southpaws who styles would be extremely fun to watch and would meet in the middle to give the fans a fight to remember. But the only cause for hesitation would be is it too late? Diaz has not fought in the UFC since Sept. 2022 but has always hinted at a return to the Octagon. Diaz is approaching 40 years of age and with Poirier contemplating retirement who knows how much interest either one of them genuinely has in fighting each other.

Diaz has been competing in these boxing matches against Jake Paul, and has a fight scheduled this Saturday against Jorge Masvidal in Anaheim, California in a boxing match. It is not a secret that there is a lot of money in boxing, and it may as well be the reason this fight against Masvidal is happening in a ring instead of the Octagon.Time will only tell if Diaz ever returns to the Octagon, but if he does Poirier should definitely be on the short list to fight him whether in the ring or in the Octagon.

3. Conor McGregor

A quadrilogy has only happened one other time in the history of the UFC, but this feels like a massive opportunity for all sides. The marktetability of this series still being one to one by the UFC can definitely be a selling point. In July 2021 Poirier defeated McGregor by 1st-round KO due to a doctor stoppage when McGregor broke his ankle at the end of the round.

Even more so than the banter Diaz and Poirier throw at each other, McGregor and Poirier are always in talks with each other. The UFC can make this fight any anytime and the fans would be excited to tune in. McGregor was scheduled to fight Michael Chandler at UFC 303 at international fight week, but decided to withdrawal due to a broken toe. The hesitancy to doing so may be because of going into the third fight with Poirier injured, and did not want to risk what he has been calling the greatest comeback of all time.

This fight makes all the sense in the world in all aspects of fighting. The UFC would be getting two stars to headline another massive PPV event, McGregor would have the motivation to avenge the losses to Poirier, and Poirier would have the motivation to show the fans that he is the better fighter once again. At the same time every single side would be financially motivated to make this happen. The trilogy that happened in July 2021 produced at the time the third largest gate in UFC history at $15.7 million.

All three of these are viable options and make a ton of sense because it hopefully give Poirier the motivation that lacks when he is not fighting for a title. Do you fight the trilogy with Gaethje and settle the score? Do you fight Diaz for all the financial gain that comes with fighting anyone with the last name Diaz? Or do you genuinely settle the score with McGregor in quadrilogy and gain all the financial success that comes with fighting McGregor? There is no wrong answer, but what makes the most sense? Only Poirier can make that decision if he decides to make the return to the Octagon for one last fight.