The American, 32, put together a run of five victories prior to facing the Russian in September 2019. But he could not find a way to hand Khabib his first loss as the undefeated lightweight champion made Poirier submit with a third round rear-naked chokehold.
And UFC star Poirier, who has won all three of his fights since then, admits it was an incredibly bitter pill to swallow at the time.
Speaking on the MMA Hour, he said: “After the Khabib fight, I was beat up and heartbroken. I felt like the stars were aligning, and I feel like I have another opportunity here where the stars are aligning, and I’ve put myself in the position to really go out there and say I did it.
“Like a reality that hit me – this could have been it, this could have been the chance, and I just blew it. When all the cameras go away, when all the music stops playing, when you’re by yourself and you look in the mirror after a fight like that, or you go take a shower and reality sets in, it’s a tough pill to swallow sometimes.
“I’ve just got to slap myself around and say, ‘Hey, don’t talk to yourself like that.’ But that’s the thing we’re constantly doing, or I’m constantly doing, not just in fighting, but in business, everything.
“Hey, this is all going to work out. But at the same time, when thoughts do creep in like that, I’m thankful for the journey, honestly. The obstacle is the way. That’s the beauty of what we do.”
Since Poirier’s defeat to Khabib he returned in June 2020 in Las Vegas, beating Dan Hooker by unanimous decision.
He then followed that up with back-to-back fights against Conor McGregor, winning both of them in impressive fashion and putting to bed his loss to the Irishman in 2014.
He is now expected to face Charles Oliveira for the UFC Lightweight Championship on 11 December at UFC 269.