UFC president Dana White said he wanted to make Dustin Poirier vs. Tony Ferguson, and rumors circulated that the fight would take place in the co-main of UFC 254: Nurmagomedov vs. Gaethje on October 24 on Fight Island, Abu Dhabi. Further speculation centered on the bout fighters serving to as replacements if the main event fell apart. If Khabib Nurmagomedov dropped out, Poirier would fight Gaethje instead of Poirier. And if Gaethje dropped out, Ferguson would fight Nurmagomedov. However, the fight fell apart, reportedly over Poirier wanting significant compensation.
At the latest DWCS post-fight press conference, White suggested Poirier simply didn't want the fight.
“Listen, I like Dustin,” said White, as transcribed by Mike Bohn and John Morgan for MMAjunkie. “I’m not going to sit up here and say anything negative about Dustin, he’s a great kid. I don’t know if it was he didn’t want to fight in Abu Dhabi or what his deal was – he didn’t want to fight.
“Listen, there’s a lot of different ways to turn down a fight. Negotiating yourself out of one is one of the ways you can do it. So for whatever reason, he didn’t want to take this fight. Only he knows that.”
MMA Junkie reached out to Poirier who said he still wants the Ferguson fight.
“I do want that fight,” texted Poirier. “Simple and plain, I want to fight Tony. I like the matchup.”
However, White has apparently moved on.
“I told you we’ve got a fight,” White said. “I don’t see Tony not accepting the fight.”