Poirier and Gaethje are booked to throw hands in the headliner of UFC on FOX 29, which will go down in Glendale, Arizona on Saturday. As the bout approaches, Poirier is coming off a submission win over former champ, Anthony Pettis, while Gaethje hasn’t competed, since he was taken out by Eddie Alvarez last December (if you didn’t see that fight,then you have some homework to do).
Prior to UFC 223 last weekend, Poirier talked to MMA Junkie. While discussing how the UFC was left scrambling to find an opponent for Khabib Nurmagomedov, on account of Tony Ferguson (and then Max Holloway’s withdrawal), Poirier said this:
“I don’t want to slide in on somebody’s injury,” said Poirier, while discussing his title shot ambitions. “I want to earn it the hard way, the way I’ve done everything in my life. I’m going to win this fight and see what’s next.”
“I want to be a world champion. Being in exciting fights and making money here and there, and being a household name, or people getting excited to watch when I’m fighting, is not my goal. My goal is to be world champion, and these are just byproducts of that.”
So, where would a win over Gaethje place Poirier? In terms of locking up a title shot?
Well, since Poirier’s sitting in the #5 spot as UFC on FOX 29 near, a win would certainly ensure he remains in the title shot mix. But, that title shot mix currently includes Conor McGregor and Tony Ferguson, who are both ahead of Poirier in that respect.
The x-factor here is what goes down with Ferguson over the coming months, in terms of his recovery from knee surgery, and whether, of course, Nurmagomedov and McGregor are booked to fight. If all the right cards fall Poirier’s way, a big win over Gaethje could move him into a title shot eliminator.
Since Gaethje is coming off a loss, however, then chances are his road to a title shot is longer than Poirier’s. But, if he scores a victory, then, things will definitely remain interesting for the #6 ranked lightweight. Like, say, a bout with the winner of the April 21st scrap between Kevin Lee and Edson Barboza?
UFC on FOX 29 will be hosted by the Gila River Arena.