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Dustin Poirier trying to move past Alvarez debacle, believes win over Pettis has him in title mix

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. – On the heels of what at the time likely was the biggest opportunity of Dustin Poirier’s career, he has one Saturday that could top it.

And while Poirier (21-5 MMA, 13-4 UFC) is committed to focusing on former UFC and WEC lightweight champion Anthony Pettis (20-6 MMA, 7-5 UFC), whom he meets in the UFC Fight Night 120 main event, it’s hard to completely forget the debacle that was his UFC 211 fight against Eddie Alvarez in May.

In that fight in Dallas, in the second round, former champ Alvarez landed a pair of knees to the head while Poirier was grounded. The cageside doctor ultimately stopped the fight, and referee Herb Dean ruled the fight a no-contest rather than a disqualification win for Poirier.

Poirier believes a win over someone like Alvarez could have gotten him a title shot. But that didn’t come. Alvarez went on to get a coaching spot on the current season of “The Ultimate Fighter” opposite Justin Gaethje.

“I don’t like to stare in the rearview, but the losses, or what could have been from that fight, it’s uncountable,” Poirier on Wednesday told MMAjunkie in Virginia ahead of his Saturday return. “I mean, I could have gotten a title shot with that win. I lost my win bonus. I lost ‘Fight of the Night’ bonus, probably. So we’re talking a lot of money, and potentially a lot more money with the title shot. Another win on my record.

“It goes on and on and on, so I don’t even like to think about it. I haven’t watched the fight but once since it happened, and that was the day after. I’m on to the next thing.”

The next thing is Pettis at UFC Fight Night 120, which takes place Saturday at Ted Constant Convocation Center in Norfolk, Va. It airs on FS1 following early prelims on UFC Fight Pass.

When Poirier got the call with the Pettis offer on the table – a fight Pettis says he asked for – he knew he was the kind of opponent that could get him back into that title conversation. Poirier currently is ranked No. 13 in the latest USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie MMA lightweight rankings. Pettis is No. 11.

“I was pumped about it, because here’s another former world champion, another opportunity for me to go out there and show the kind of fighter I am,” Poirier said. “I can’t be mad with them matching me up with two former world champions in a row. I beat the first one, and I’m about to beat the second one. That just shows you the caliber that I am. I’m world-champion class, I know that.”

And with the UFC’s lightweight title picture in a constant state of flux, who knows what could come with a win. Champion Conor McGregor likely gets interim champ Tony Ferguson next – if he can sort out his demands with the UFC. Alvarez and Gaethje are scheduled to fight at UFC 218 next month and no doubt are in the mix. Khabib Nurmagomedov and Edson Barboza fight at UFC 219.

But the Poirier-Pettis winner will no doubt be pleading his case to be in that mix.

“I feel like I’m one away with a win over Anthony Pettis, if not there,” Poirier said. “I mean, Kevin Lee just got (an interim) title shot ranked No. 7 (in the UFC rankings). I feel like I beat Eddie Alvarez, who was ranked No. 2 or 3 at the time, so I know I’m there.”

For more from Poirier, check out the video above.

And for more on UFC Fight Night 120, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

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