Dustin Poirier, UFC 257

Dustin Poirier looks across the octagon after knocking out Conor McGregor at UFC 257.

Report: Dustin Poirier vs Michael Chandler being targeted for UFC 281

A high-stakes matchup between lightweight contenders Dustin Poirier and Michael Chandler is being targeted for UFC 281.

A high-stakes blockbuster clash could be coming soon inside the UFC’s lightweight division, as reports stated on Wednesday that former interim champion Dustin Poirier and former title challenger Michael Chandler could be meeting later this year. Ariel Helwani was first to report the news during the Wednesday edition of ‘The MMA Hour’ this week, and he stated that the fight between Poirier and Chandler is currently being targeted for UFC 281 which takes place at Madison Square Garden in November.

Following Helwani’s live report, ESPN’s Brett Okamoto reported that while the fight between the two is being targeted, the date is still up in the air because Chandler’ would like a fight in December, while Dustin Poirier wants the non-title fight to be a five-round fight. Okamoto would also note that the fight could very well take place in November, as previously reported by Helwani.

With several of the top-ranked lightweight contenders being scheduled for fights this upcoming fall and early winter, the booking between Dustin Poirier and Michael Chandler made the most sense, although both were rumored as potential opponents for Conor McGregor’s return to action. With McGregor still not set to get back inside the Octagon, Chandler and Poirier will each have an opportunity to get themselves back into the title conversation.

Currently, former champion Charles Oliveira will face fourth-ranked contender Islam Makhachev for the vacant lightweight title at UFC 280 on October 22 in Abu Dhabi. With Oliveira and Makhachev set to fight and Poirier and Chandler targeted for November, the only Top-5 ranked contender without a fight booked is Justin Gaethje, who is recovering from nose surgery. Even though he’s still working his way back, Gaethje was called out earlier this summer by rising contender Rafael Fiziev, who is currently on a six-fight winning streak and just outside the Top-5 rankings.

A fight against Dustin Poirier would not only continue his run of marquee fights for the former interim champion, but it will allow him an opportunity to put himself back in position to fight for the lightweight title. Back in 2019, Poirier got his first taste of UFC gold when he defeated former featherweight champion Max Holloway for the interim lightweight title. His bid to unify the title against former champion Khabib Nurmagomedov would come up short at UFC 242, but he would find himself with another title opportunity when he faced Charles Oliveira at UFC 269 last year, but would also come up short in that contest.

Upon entering the UFC following his departure from Bellator MMA which included multiple championship reigns, Michael Chandler made an immediate statement to the division with his debut KO win over Dan Hooker. That win over Hooker would put him in place to fight Oliveira for the vacant lightweight title and although things did not go his way, Chandler remained a mainstay at the top of the division. He would lose his second straight fight in a Fight Of the Year contest against Justin Gaethje. “Iron” Michael Chandler would get back to his winning ways earlier this year when he deliver a stunning front-kick KO to Tony Ferguson at UFC 274.

Both Dustin Poirier and Michael Chandler have remained staples at the top of the lightweight division and with their future pairing just months away, the winner could certainly line himself up to be the next in line for a title fight opportunity. Two of the most recognized fighters not just in the division but across the entire UFC, this fight would make the most sense to be atop the fight card at UFC 281 in Madison Square Garden.

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