Poirier (28-7 MMA, 20-6 UFC) meets Chandler (23-7 MMA, 2-2 UFC) in a pivotal lightweight clash at UFC 281 on Nov. 12 at Madison Square Garden in New York, but the fight will only be three rounds.
The UFC historically has booked non-title and non-headlining five-round fights before, but Poirier vs. Chandler won’t get that treatment. Having thrived in the championship rounds in the past, “The Diamond” thinks 25 minutes against Chandler would benefit him.
“I really wanted to do a five-round fight,” Poirier said in an interview with Heavy Sports. “Especially for me, I like to get a rhythm and a timing, and I feel like the better fighter. Unless something happens early in one of the first couple of rounds, the better fighter usually wins in the distance.”
Poirier sees former title challenger Chandler as a worthy opponent. While he’d love a dominant performance, Poirier is fully expecting a drag-out war and he welcomes it.
“He’s a former (Bellator) world champion. He’s one of the best 155-pounders in the world, so he’s a very, very tough opponent,” Poirier said. “If it’s Fight of the Year, that means it’s back-and-forth. I’d like it to be clean, one-sided if I could paint the perfect picture.
“But I don’t shy away from those fire fights. I’m going to try my best to stay calm under fire and technical, but if he competes to the best of his ability, and I do the same, it could be Fight of the Century.”
Poirier is coming off a title loss to Charles Oliveira at UFC 269 this past December. The former interim lightweight champion is no stranger to bouncing back strong, which is why he sees his fight with Chandler as a must win.
“I feel like this is a huge fight in my career,” Poirier said. “First of all, I’ve never lost two fights in a row in my whole career. Since amateur, I’ve never lost two fights in a row. I want to prove to myself that I learn from mistakes – I get back to the grind, pick myself back up. And not only to myself, I want to prove to my family, the fans, my daughter that you can fall down and get back up and succeed. So this fight, for me personally, it’s very important for me to get a victory over another former world champion and add his name to my resume and legacy.”