Dustin Poirier says he feels like the lightweight champion after delivering the most notable result of his career in knocking out Conor McGregor in Abu Dhabi on Sunday – although he wants the belt to prove it.
The American, the division's former interim belt-holder, stopped the returning Irishman in the second round of the headline clash at UFC 257 at Etihad Arena. It was the first time in 27 professional mixed martial art bouts that McGregor had lost via knockout.
Poirier, who last week celebrated his 32nd birthday, could be seen directly afterwards telling Daniel Cormier, a former two-division champion and now colour commentator sitting octagon-side, that he didn’t enjoy competing in the UFC any more.
“I just felt flat in the locker room,” Poirier said at the post-fight press conference. “I’m damn good at it. But I just felt flat, really calm. I don’t know, it’s hard to say, but that’s it exactly: I just don’t really like this any more.”
Asked if he was considering retirement, Poirier said: “I don’t know. Dude, I’ve so many whoopings I have to hand out, I feel like I’m just hitting my prime. I’m just putting everything together.
“My body and my mind are finally on the same wavelength. Just turned 32 this week. We’ll see what happens. I don’t know. The only part I liked this past two weeks was the fight.
“I don’t know if that answers the question or draws more questions, but I didn’t enjoy the process these last two weeks. The only part I liked was the fighting.”
Poirier, whose professional record now stands at 27-6 (19-5 in the UFC), is in line next to take on Michael Chandler, according to UFC president Dana White. On Sunday, the three-time Bellator lightweight champion crowned his promotional debut in the card's penultimate bout by knocking out Dan Hooker in the first round.
Poirier defeated Hooker, the division’s sixth-ranked challenger – Poirier is second – last time out, on points in June.
On whether a fight with Chandler interests him, Poirier said: “No, it does not. Respect to Chandler, great win. But to come in and beat a guy I just beat and get a title shot? I’ve been in  fights in the UFC, trying everything, fighting the toughest of the toughest guys to get my hands on gold.
“He should fight [No 5] Charles Oliveira or something. Let Chandler and Charles Oliveira go at it. That doesn’t really interest me at this point. I’ll go sell hot sauce if that’s the case.
“It’s just my feelings towards the division and the sport. I lost to [now-retired] Khabib [Nurmagomedov in 2019], I came out and put on Fight of the Year for you guys, got my hand raised against a top-ranked opponent after that.
“And Khabib doesn’t want to come back. And in one of the biggest fight you can get, I knocked this guy out too. Khabib reiterates he doesn’t want to fight any more. I’m the champ.
Gallery from UFC 257
"I’m not going to – respect to Chandler – fight a new guy to the UFC who’s coming off a win against a guy that I just beat, for the belt. That’s not exciting to me.”
Poitier did, though, confirm he would be open to another bout against McGregor having avenged his 2014 loss to the former two-division world champion. McGregor sealed the win in that bout by first-round TKO.
“A rematch with Conor interests me,” Poirier said. “I always wanted to whip Nate Diaz’s [butt]; that interests me. I’m sure something will make sense, but just right now I don’t know. I’ve just got to go back home and see.
"Conor and me are one-and-one for knockouts. We’ll see. I don’t know. I can’t tell the future. We’re one-and-one, we both TKO-ed each other. We’ll probably have to do it again, right?”
On the difference between McGregor six years ago and now, Poirier added: “That first one was so long ago, but I felt his presence less, his aura less. I just saw another fighter tonight. The first time I was kind of deer in the headlights, you could say. This time I was just fighting another man, another man who bleeds just like me. And I knew that.
“[This win is] up there, especially to finish a guy who’s never been finished like that. Touching that UFC interim belt was so important to me and putting my hands on the undisputed world title before this is all said and done is what I want to absolutely do. But this is a big one.”