Friday, September 11, 2020

UFC president Dana White said he wanted to book Dustin Poirier vs. Tony Ferguson, and rumors circulated that the fight would take place at UFC 254: Nurmagomedov vs. Gaethje on October 24 on Fight Island, Abu Dhabi.

The fight as UFC 254 co-main made a lot of sense. If headliner lightweight champion Khabin Nurmagomedov dropped out, Poirier would fight Gaethje instead. And if Gaethje dropped out, Ferguson would fight Nurmagomedov. That latter circumstance would have been very MMA as the five times the two were scheduled to fight, but it fell apart.

Nurmagomedov and Ferguson were scheduled to fight in 2015, but Khabib withdrew with a rib injury. In 2016 the pair were scheduled to fight, but Ferguson withdrew with a lung issue. In 2017 it happened again - Nurmagomedov was hospitalized while cutting weight. In 2018, again - Ferguson tripped over cables while fulfilling media duties and tore ligaments in his knee. The two had each withdrawn twice. And then in 2020, the fifth scheduled fight was canceled due to the COVID-19 global pandemic.

Unfortunately, while the fight made sense for the UFC, for Poirier, it had to make more dollars than they were willing to pay in order to make sense.

"I just need to be compensated if they want this fight," explained Poirier to Ariel Helwani for ESPN on Wednesday. "Simple as that. I'm a prizefighter and the prize needs to be right."

Poirier later said definitively that the sides couldn't come to an agreement, and that he was leaving his camp at ATT headquarters in Coconut Creek, Florida.

"UFC and I didn't come to terms," said Poirier. "I will not be fighting on Oct. 24."

Ferguson had reportedly verbally agreed to the fight, but had not signed yet signed a contract. His team declined to offer a comment to Helwani.