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Poirier vs. Saint-Denis was booked as ‘UFC counter-attack on Ngannou’

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Did the UFC announce Dustin Poirier vs. Benoit Saint-Denis prematurely in an attempt to screw over Francis Ngannou? According to Saint-Denis’ manager, that’s exactly what he thinks happened.

Poirier vs. Saint-Denis was announced by UFC CEO Dana White on January 7th, just two days after a Francis Ngannou vs. Anthony Joshua boxing bout in Saudi Arabia was revealed. In a new interview with GONG Gi Or No Gi, “God of War” manager Guillaume Peltier detailed how he had been pushing for a Poirier match-up, but wasn’t getting anywhere … until the Ngannou news broke.

“So what happened — I think, according to me, I have no confirmation, I’m talking to you with an open heart — things accelerated due to Ngannou,” Peltier said. “I think the UFC wanted to counter-attack [news of Ngannou vs. Joshua] and make this news flop a little bit in France.”

“To me, I think they said to themselves ‘We have Cyril Gane or Benoit Saint-Denis, and we have to react immediately to Ngannou’s announcement to ensure it goes by the wayside and no one talks about it.’ And I don’t know if you agree with me, but in the end we talked very little about the Ngannou fight, finally, with the announcement of Benoit Saint-Denis [vs. Dustin Poirier]. The counter-attack succeeded.”

Before the Ngannou announcement, Peltier said the Poirier booking was being repeatedly turned down by matchmaker Sean Shelby and UFC CBO Hunter Campbell. They were suggesting BSD vs. Beneil Dariush, and then everything suddenly changed.

Peltier also confirms what we’d heard previously (and what Dana White denied): that UFC announced the fight before confirming with either fighter. He was on a plane when White revealed the booking on Instagram, and it took several hours of negotiating after landing before terms were agreed to.

Things were left hanging much longer with Dustin Poirier, who would briefly declare the fight off weeks later when the UFC didn’t respond to his terms. A few hours later, Poirier announced that everything had been sorted out and the UFC 299 fight was back on.

So … would the UFC rush their own fight announcement just to try and hurt Francis Ngannou’s hype in France? Sure. Is that what happened here? As Peltier said, there’s no confirmation, but that’s how he read the situation.

And just look back to past Ngannou news days: the UFC announced Jon Jones vs. Stipe Miocic at UFC 295 on the same day Ngannou vs. Fury was announced. And when Big Fran signed with PFL? The UFC announced Justin Gaethje vs. Dustin Poirier for the BMF belt at UFC 291.

What do you think, Maniacs? Coincidence or conspiracy?

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