No one really thought Conor McGregor could stay away from the Octagon forever. Fresh off his brief retirement, McGregor told ESPN on Thursday he has signed to fight Dustin Poirier on Jan. 23 in the UFC 257 main event. UFC president Dana White told ESPN last week that it would take place on “Fight Island” in Abu Dhabi “if everything goes according to plans.”

A dynamic former two-division champion and an always-intriguing personality brand, McGregor last fought almost a year ago in a win by TKO over Donald Cerrone on Jan. 18. For McGregor, legal fighting beats brawling in a Dublin pub, an assault for which he was fined about $1,000 last November.

Poirier’s most recent fight was a victory over Dan Hooker by unanimous decision in June. McGregor, 32, defeated Poirier in 2014 at UFC 178 in a first-round TKO.

“I am very grateful to be about to return and get to do what I love again,” McGregor said earlier this month about a possible fight with the 31-year-old Poirier. “I look forward to the fresh test Dustin will bring since our first bout, while also showcasing my own incredibly deep cache of weaponry.” 

The UFC, like all sports, was interrupted by the coronavirus pandemic, and a disillusioned McGregor announced his retirement earlier this year on social media. “Hey guys I’ve decided to retire from fighting,” McGregor wrote on Twitter. “Thank you all for the amazing memories! What a ride it’s been!”

The fight with Cerrone took place at welterweight, but McGregor will return to lightweight, 155 pounds, for Poirier, according to McGregor’s official web site.

McGregor was beaten by his since-retired arch rival Khabib Nurmagomedov at lightweight two years ago and has not fought lightweight since.

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