The next lightweight title fight must involve Dustin Poirier according to American Kickboxing Academy head coach Javier Mendez.
The 155-pound title is now vacant after Khabib Nurmagomedov announced his retirement from the sport following his impressive win over Justin Gaethje at UFC 254 this past weekend.
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The question immediately turned to who should battle for the vacant title next. The main contenders, of course, are Poirier, Conor McGregor, Gaethje, Tony Ferguson and Michael Chandler.
And for Mendez, whoever the UFC ultimately decides go with, Poirier is the one fighter who deserves to fight for the title next.
“A hundred percent Dustin,” Mendez told Submission Radio. “He’s proven that he’s number one, and he’s proven whoever he fights should fight for the title, in my opinion. I think Dustin is, in my eyes, he’s the lone guy.
“I think hands down it has to be Dustin. If anybody fights for the title, if it doesn’t include Dustin, I think it’s a tragedy, I think it’s a shame and I believe he deserves it more than anybody.”
Poirier suffered defeat to Nurmagomedov in their title fight at UFC 242 last year but was able to bounce back in June with a unanimous decision win over Dan Hooker.
A bout between Poirier and McGregor was notably already in the works for January 23 — though nothing is official as of yet — and one would imagine that would be for the vacant title now.
And Mendez has no problems with that whatsoever as Poirier would be involved.
“Well, one hundred percent. Conor was dominant in his last performance [vs. Donald Cerrone], regardless what weight it was. Conor is still a top guy,” Mendez added. “And anybody that’s in the top five, as long as it involves Dustin, in my opinion it’s a world title to me. In my eyes it’s legit. So, Dustin fighting anybody in the top five is a legit title.”
For now, though, UFC president Dana White has no idea what will take place as far as the lightweight division is concerned.