Benoit Saint Denis Discusses Dustin Poirier Fight Announcement Controversy

A five-round lightweight fight between Benoit Saint Denis and former interim UFC champion Dustin Poirier has been confirmed for UFC 299 on March 9 in Miami, after initial confusion and miscommunication regarding the matchup.

Benoit Saint Denis had his eyes on a top-tier rival for some time. He eventually landed Dustin Poirier, but it wasn’t a walk in the park.

The UFC 299 in Miami on March 9 will feature a five-round lightweight showdown between Saint Denis and ex-UFC interim champion Poirier. However, the fight was only made official this month.

UFC CEO Dana White had informally announced the matchup in January. This led to a bit of a mix-up when Poirier tweeted that the fight was off. But, the UFC publicly confirmed the bout within hours of Poirier’s tweet. Poirier blamed the situation on a “miscommunication.”

Saint Denis, during his appearance on The MMA Hour, confirmed the uncertainty. His team wasn’t entirely sure the fight was a done deal.

“I thought I was going to have a tough fight against a top 10,” Saint Denis admitted. He had high hopes for a potential match with Beneil Dariush. His manager was working on many things, but he only got the news when things were almost certain.

Despite his confidence, the final decision was still up to Poirier. The media was trying to figure out why a fight announced by White was suddenly in jeopardy. MMA Fighting’s Guilherme Cruz reported that Saint Denis’ coach Daniel Woirin was clueless about the Poirier fight. This drew White’s ire on social media.

Saint Denis clarified his coach’s comments. His coach was one of the last to know about the fight.

“I did know the fight was going to happen the night before,” Saint Denis said. Everything was agreed upon, but nothing is sure until it’s announced. They had the green light from Hunter Campbell, but his coach is a very energetic guy. He’s always the last to know because he gets too excited.

Saint Denis was surprised when the fight was announced so quickly. It was only 24 hours after they agreed to make the fight.

He’s still unsure what needed to be cleared up on Poirier’s side. He suspects Poirier’s seniority with the UFC had something to do with the quick resolution.

“Not on all sides,” Saint Denis said when asked how far along the fight was to being agreed upon prior to Poirier’s tweet. “On our side everything was clear. We had a message from the main matchmaker of the UFC, we agreed for the fight, everything was OK on our side.

“I’m not a big star like Poirier, so I’m still pretty fresh in the game, so I don’t have the politics in my pocket, and it’s not a game I’m used to playing or I have ever played. I’m just going to try to do what I’m good at, taking people’s heads off and climbing the rankings and getting ready for this fight. I imagine when you have been this long in the UFC, there’s a lot more talk with the show, a lot more stuff. But yeah, really happy to have this guy in front of me the ninth of March.”

Saint Denis’ manager told him not to worry about Poirier’s tweet and to stay focused on training.

Saint Denis, who made his pro debut just five years ago, has quickly climbed the ranks with his aggressive style and thrilling finishes. He is 5-0 in the UFC while competing at 155 pounds, and no one in his weight class has made it past the second round with him.

Poirier had considered fighting Saint Denis at UFC 300. But he and the matchmakers eventually agreed that a five-round co-main event spot at UFC 299 would work better. Saint Denis welcomes the change, the likely Poirier-friendly crowd in Miami, and the opportunity to go 25 minutes with one of the best in his division.

“To be honest, it’s even more exciting,” Saint Denis said. “It’s like fighting Matt Frevola in New York, when you fight the New York guy in New York, there is some excitement from the crowd, and I believe there will be some excitement from the crowd against Poirier. He may be the underdog for the matchmakers, but he’s not the underdog from the crowd, and I think that I will feel the excitement at UFC299 because Miami is like his home. It’s where he’s training. He has a great team, big team.

“UFC 300 would have been crazy as well, but fighting the guy that trains out of American Top Team – he’s like a figure of ATT, which is one of the biggest professional gyms in the U.S., fighting him in the co-main event, hometown for him, it’s crazy. I expect it to be a tough fight, and I’m expecting him to be very excited about all this. Yes, five rounds is good for him, he believes he has the experience. Of course, he has the experience, and of course, he is used to five rounds, but I will show you that with the training methodology we have, you are not going to see me having any cardio issue or energy management in my fight. It’s going to be a tough fight for both of us, but I hope he is not expecting me to be easy.”


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