Top contender Tony Ferguson, whose heartbreaking knee injury six days before UFC 223 pulled him from the fight, appears next for Nurmagomedov unless the champion can secure super fights against McGregor or Georges St-Pierre.
Gaethje, 29, who has firmly established a reputation in three UFC fights for providing entertainment, also suffered his second straight defeat via violent knockout.
The fifth-ranked lightweight, Poirier (23-5) bloodied Gaethje in the first round and finished him off with a flurry early in the fourth, yelling "I'm going to get that title fight this year!" as he left the octagon. I've shown resilience and fortitude and I've done it over and over again to put myself back in the position I'm in, and I'm hitting my stride as a father, a fighter, a husband and a person.
Will he get a title shot from this win?
Punjab vs Chennai live on Star Sports and Hotstar
Both teams have seen exceptionally well individual performances with in the form of Dwayne Bravo and Sam Billings for CSK . The other contributions came from the in-form K L Rahul (37 off 22), Mayank Agarwal (30 off 19) and Karun Nair (29 off 17).
Poirier appeared willing to fight on despite the effect it had on his vision and argued with the cageside doctor and referee to continue.
Gaethje's latest setback will leave him just shy of the lightweight title discussion and in an interview given to a media scrum after the fight (via MMAFighting), he made it clear that he can only see himself competing in the sport five more times. I go in there to entertain people This is the entertainment business. "I'm a UFC employee and I know I have to be ready when it comes". And while Poirier landed several hard combinations, Gaethje walked through the punches and continued to batter the Louisiana native's right leg.
Poirier added: "This guy [Gaethje] would have died in here if Herb Dean hadn't stopped it".
"I want to fight for gold, man", Poirier said to MMA Fighting. "I'm not chasing rematches with Conor, rematches with Eddie, rematches with anybody". "But I felt like I got my wheels under me pretty quick". Michelle Waterson opened the main card with a split-decision victory over Cortney Casey in a technical straw weight fight.