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With 'championship language' in new UFC contract, Dustin Poirier ready for title run


UFC lightweight contender Dustin Poirier has a new UFC contract in hand, and it’s the most important one of his career so far.

Poirier, who headlines a UFC card for the fourth time next month when he meets Justin Gaethje at UFC on FOX 29, has lost just one of eight fights over the past three years. He’s coming off a November win over former champ Anthony Pettis, after which he signed a new UFC deal, despite three fights remaining on his existing contract.

“I just rewashed my old contract after my last fight and got a new contract,” Poirier told MMAjunkie. “I got close to my goal. I still believe I’m worth more money, but we’re happy with where we’re at. Me and the UFC are on good terms and like I’ve said, I would fight the rest of my career in the UFC. I want to fight until I’m 35. I would love to do another six years in the UFC, but as of right now I’m happy, and I hope they’re happy.

“I’m going to keep putting on great shows and putting everything into my training camps. That’s all I can do.”

The key element of Poirier’s new contract, he said, is the fact there are terms in place if he becomes UFC lightweight champion. How far off that is from happening remains to be seen, but Poirier said everything is there for a reason.

“I don’t know how many contracts I’ve had with the UFC, but this is my first contract with championship language in it,” Poirier said. “We have a plan figured out for when I win the belt, and it’s in my contract. This is my first contract with that in it, and I’ve had a lot of contracts with the UFC. This is the closest I’ve ever come to being a world champion, and everything is happening like clockwork like it’s supposed to.”

Poirier, No. 10 in the latest USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie MMA lightweight rankings, will attempt to continue his title run in his UFC on FOX 29 matchup with No. 5-ranked Gaethje, which takes place April 14 at Gila River Arena in Glendale, Ariz. Even with a win, though, “The Diamond” is, like the rest of the divisional contenders, left waiting for the title picture to clear up.

Fortunately, however, it appears the UFC’s April schedule will help bring clarity to the divisional pecking order. One week prior to Poirier’s fight, Tony Ferguson (23-3 MMA, 13-1 UFC) and Khabib Nurmagomedov (25-0 MMA, 9-0 UFC) will clash for the 155-pound title. The winner of that bout would seem like the frontrunner to fight Conor McGregor (21-3 MMA, 9-1 UFC) in his UFC return, and while that would be best for the division, Poirier said only time will tell how everything plays out.

“All these fights that are being made are the top of the division, so maybe the division will play itself out a little bit, and maybe we’ll get a little more solid foundation of where the rankings should be,” Poirier said. “I know they’ve been up in the air with the title held up and the interim title, maybe, and all these guys fighting for the apparent world title. But now that these guys are fighting for the ‘real belt,’ maybe we’ll get a little more clarity in the division.

“My gut is telling me something is going to happen with Conor. I don’t know if he’s going to come back and do a catchweight fight with Georges St-Pierre, or he’s going to do a super fight somewhere, but I feel like he’s going to come back into the mix.”

Poirier said he’s picking Nurmagomedov to defeat Ferguson, who “makes a lot of mistakes,” at UFC 223. If McGregor opts not to come back to fight the winner of that matchup, Poirier thinks there’s a chance he could slide in as the next title contender given the right performance. He acknowledged former WSOF champ Gaethje as a tough test, but Poirier plans to produce a statement win that shows why championship language was put in his contract.

“In my heart I’m hoping I get this W, put on a great performance, show my skills, and I get a title shot next,” Poirier said. “But this is a crazy sport, and we see crazy things happen.”

For more on UFC on FOX 29, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

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