Dustin Poirier did not seem to be on Conor McGregor's radar as he weighed up his next move last year.
The Irishman had announced his third 'retirement' from the UFC earlier in 2020 and appeared more interested in returning to the boxing ring.
Poirier himself was focused on trying to re-open talks over a fight against Tony Ferguson after talks had broken down with the UFC.
But when McGregor engaged in a social media row about his own future, Poirier suggested they fight each other.
His rival quickly agreed but insisted any meeting would be an exhibition bout not sanctioned by the UFC.
Poirier accepted the terms and date of December 12 was set – before Dana White intervened.
The UFC president insisted the event would be held under the auspices of his organisation and bout agreements were issued.
The rematch was eventually agreed but not announced until November with the pair set to touch gloves next weekend in Abu Dhabi.
And despite the seemingly haphazard nature of its organisation, the fight now has obvious lightweight title implications.
But there is another reason for McGregor accepting the fight – he views it as good preparation for a boxing bout with Manny Pacquiao.
Not in terms of Poirier's level of striking, but because is a fellow southpaw.
When asked about his thinking last year, McGregor said: "Correct; southpaw box style. I can continue to sharpen my MMA skills with some tough competition, while leading into my Manny bout preparation.
"It's not easy going between both sports and then coming back to the one sport again.
"I just want to keep sharp guys, that’s all. It’s only fair."
McGregor and Pacquiao both claimed negotiations had reached an advanced stage last year – and both have reaffirmed that stance in recent days.
Pacquiao insists he would rather face McGregor than fellow boxing world champion Errol Spence.
And McGregor said this week: "I know that talks are intensifying for [a fight] this year.
"I am open to it all, ready for it all. I will certainly attain a boxing world title before I call it a day and I would be excited to do that against Emmanuel Pacquiao."
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