Conor McGregor - The Long Road Back

Should the lightweight title be on the line at UFC 257?

The main event of UFC 257 will feature former featherweight and lightweight champion, Irish superstar Conor McGregor facing off against former interim lightweight champion Dustin Poirier and at the time of this posting, that’s all it is going to be. A five-round main event with two of the biggest superstars in the UFC facing off in a rematch from six years ago, while plenty of questions lie ahead.

Seven years ago back in 2014, both fighters were in the early stages of their UFC careers and competing in the featherweight division when McGregor secured a first-round knockout victory over Poirier, a fight that would lead him to a featherweight title shot and later, stardom and a championship in two weight classes. While the entire trajectory of career hasn’t been perfect since, McGregor is undoubtedly the biggest star in the sport currently and at UFC 257, he’ll look to once again propel his career with a fight against Poirier.

Conor McGregor vs. Dustin Poirier 2 officially book for UFC 257 on Jan. 23
Dustin Poirier (left) and Conor McGregor (right) square off at UFC 178 media day in September 2014.

For Poirier, a move up to lightweight was also a boost to his career as since he’s made the jump in weight, he’s compiled some of the most memorable fights in the division’s history and won the interim lightweight title against Max Holloway in 2019. While Poirier would fall short to champion Khabib Nurmagomedov in 2019, he’s remained one of the best in the world at 155 pounds, with no signs of slowing down.

Taking the career of both fighters and mixing them up in a cage for UFC 257 is one thing, but if the promotion were able to put the lightweight title on the line in this matchup, it would create a wide-open race and potentially some incredibly fights to take place in the division for upcoming title challengers (like Justin Gaethje vs Charles Oliveira) who are on the brink of stardom.

Currently, the lightweight title is held by the undisputed and undefeated Khabib Nurmagomedov who defended his title most recently against Justin Gaethje last September and would retire immediately after the victory. UFC President Dana White has gone on record to say he’s not ready to have Nurmagomedov walk away just yet and believes he can lure him back in the pursuit of the Dagestan champion going 30-0 if he wins another fight.

Nurmagomedov has beaten everyone the UFC has put in front of him and up until UFC 254, he did so with his father by his side. Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov had always envisioned Khabib finishing his career undefeated at 30-0 but he tragically passed away right before UFC 254 due to complications from COVID-19, which was a major factor in Khabib’s decision to retire.

If Dana White and the UFC were unable to lure Nurmagomedov back into fighting, then yes the lightweight title should be on the line and frankly, the conversation between White and the reigning champion should’ve taken place already.

Conor McGregor has put on some of the greatest championship performances in UFC history (UFC 194, 205) and while he also came up short against Nurmagomedov (UFC 229), his star becomes bigger and brighter if a championship is at stake, which also means good things for Poirier.

What if the UFC can lure Nurmagomedov back? The internet rumors over the past year and change have been a superfight between “The Eagle” and former welterweight and middleweight champion, Georges St Pierre in a fight that could determine the greatest fighter of all-time. It would be absolute must-see TV but to think it would happen at 155 pounds, a weight class that surely both could struggle to make, the UFC should still consider making McGregor vs Poirier for the belt.

A UFC title fight sells more, Conor McGregor sells most when a belt is on the line, and Dustin Poirier shines on the biggest stages even if he doesn’t always come out on top. In the end, it would only make logical and financial sense to place the title on the line at UFC 257 and figure everything else out later.

If interim titles can be made out of nowhere and a ‘BMF’ belt can be created, then a belt should and could be on the line at UFC 257. It’s what is best for business.

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