Report: Poirier-Chandler close to finalized for UFC 281

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A pivotal lightweight bout between Dustin Poirier and Michael Chandler is nearly set for UFC 281 on Nov. 12 at Madison Square Garden in New York, sources told MMA reporter Ariel Helwani.

However, Chandler prefers to face Poirier in December, according to ESPN's Brett Okamoto. Poirier is pushing to make the contest five rounds, Okamoto adds.

The teams of both fighters recently said they expected this matchup to come to fruition. Poirier and Chandler were involved in a verbal altercation at UFC 276 in July, leading security to separate them.

Poirier hasn't stepped into the Octagon since losing to then-lightweight champion Charles Oliveira at UFC 269 last December. That defeat snapped a three-fight winning streak, which included two stoppage wins over Conor McGregor.

"The Diamond" spent much of the first seven months of 2022 campaigning for a fight with Nate Diaz, but the promotion opted to book Diaz against Khamzat Chimaev instead.

Chandler is coming off a "Knockout of the Year" candidate against Tony Ferguson in May, which put the former Bellator lightweight champion back in the win column after suffering back-to-back losses against Justin Gaethje and Oliveira.

Poirier and Chandler are ranked Nos. 2 and 5 in the division, respectively, so the winner will likely be one of the front-runners for a title shot in 2023. Oliveira and Islam Makhachev are scheduled to meet for the vacant belt at UFC 280 in October.

UFC 281 does not yet have a main event.

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Report: Poirier-Chandler close to finalized for UFC 281
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