Much of the talk before UFC 257 revolved around whether the winner of the main event between Dustin Poirier and Conor McGregor would be able to entice lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov to return from his retirement for one final title defense. The general assumption was that McGregor -- the favorite entering the fight -- would emerge as the victor and set up a potential rematch of one of the biggest fights in UFC history against Nurmagomedov.
Instead, Poirier stunned McGregor with a second-round TKO to reassert himself atop the division and contender status. After the fight, Nurmagomedov took to twitter to rub some salt in McGregor's fresh wounds.
This is what happened, when you change your team, leave the sparring partners who made you a champion and sparring with little kids, far away from reality.— khabib nurmagomedov (@TeamKhabib) January 24, 2021
With McGregor knocked out, the hopes of setting up that big money fight dead, Dana White revealed at the post-event press conference that a Nurmagomedov return was always unlikely, especially since he already holds wins over both Poirier and McGregor.
"He said to me, 'Dana, be honest with yourself. I'm so many levels above these guys,'" White said. "I don't know. [Nurmagomedov returning] doesn't sound very positive."
If Nurmagomedov does stay retired, a fight between Poirier and Michael Chandler is a suddenly viable option for a battle for the vacant championship.
Chandler won in the night's co-main event, making a successful Octagon debut with a knockout of Dan Hooker. White heaped praise on Chandler after the event, saying he could not think of a better debut fight in the history of the UFC.
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