St. Denis (13-1) is scheduled to fight Poirier (29-8) for five rounds in the co-main event at UFC 299 on March 9 in Miami.
The booking suddenly appeared to be jeopardized when Poirier announced on social media that the fight was off. The drama ended with the promotion confirming that the fight was on within hours. Notably, “The Diamond” also confirmed the booking on X (formerly known as Twitter), blaming the confusion on “miscommunication.”Poirier did not divulge much about what went on behind the scenes in a subsequent interview. Regardless, “The Diamond” was quick to express his happiness at finally getting the deal done.
St. Denis has now shared his side of things, which seemed to be a mixture of confusion and hope. “God of War” was aiming for a top-tier opponent but couldn’t be sure that it would be Poirier until the fight was confirmed.
“I thought I was going to have a tough fight against a Top 10,” St. Denis said on The MMA Hour. “I really believed in this Beneil Dariush matchup potentially, but I knew my manager was working a lot on a lot of stuff. When something is not sure or is not done, he’s never telling me, because I don’t want to be preparing for Hooker, and then for Turner, and then for Dariush, and for Tsarukyan, and then for Poirier, and then for Justin. Then you go back from Justin to Hooker or whatever, so he always tells me when it’s almost sure, like 90 percent sure.”
MMA Fighting’s Guilherme Cruz also reported that St. Denis’ coach, Daniel Woirin, wasn’t aware of the Poirier booking before it was announced. In response, UFC CEO Dana White slammed Cruz on social media while also posting screenshots of his conservations with St. Denis, where the fighter seemingly agreed to the booking. According to “God of War,” Woirin was one of the last people to know about the booking to avoid him getting worked up about a matchup that could potentially fall through.
“I did know the fight was going to happen the night before. We agreed, everything was agreed. But like my manager said, when it’s not announced, you are not 100 percent sure. We had the green light from Hunter Campbell, but my coach is a very energetic guy, so he’s always the last guy we are telling the fight is on, because he’s going to get crazy all night long watching his fights. So, if it was not going to be the guy we are fighting, he was not going to be happy about the announcement.”
“The day after I [was surprised] that it was announced this fast, because it was only 24 hours after we agreed to make the fight, because it’s this far away. I didn’t know when it was going to be announced, but of course, I was surprised it was announced this fast.”
St. Denis believes Poirier, being the bigger star, has more negotiating power with the promotion than him, which also leads to more politics behind the scenes.“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,” St. Denis said.
“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.”