Dustin Poirier won't hate on Max Holloway jumping lightweight line, welcomes grueling fight
ATLANTA – Dustin Poirier says he couldn’t be in a better place physically, mentally and personally going into Saturday’s UFC 236 headliner.
Poirier (24-5 MMA, 16-4 UFC) enters his interim lightweight title bout with Max Holloway (20-3 MMA, 16-3 UFC) on the best run of his lengthy octagon tenure. Poirier believes it’s his time to claim a UFC belt and said everything is lining up perfectly for that to happen.
“Just years of journey, of the hustle, of the grind,” Poirier told reporters, including MMA Junkie, on Wednesday at UFC 236 open workouts. “Believing in myself and staying true at times, it looked rough. Just not losing hope. I’m happy with the person I see in the mirror. When I look in the mirror, I’m happy with the husband, with the father I am, with the work I’ve put into mixed martial arts. I’m just in a good spot in general – not even in fight, in life. I’m happy. I’m living the dream. I have nothing to complain about.”
The reason Poirier vs. Holloway came together is because UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov plans to be sidelined until late this year. That’s largely in part because of his suspension stemming from the infamous UFC 229 brawl after beating Conor McGregor, which opened the door to an interim title bout.
There are other, actual lightweights who could have filled the slot over current UFC featherweight champ Holloway, but Poirier said he doesn’t mind “Blessed” getting the shot.
“That part is tough to say (about whether Holloway deserves it),” Poirier said. “The guy is obviously a reigning, defending world champion. Stopped (Jose Aldo), arguably the best 145-pound champion of all time, twice. He has been looking incredible every fight and put it all together, but to jump up and skip the line in a top-heavy division is a little different. But timing, availability, circumstances, and here we are.”
Holloway enters UFC 236 off perhaps the finest performance of his career. He beat down Brian Ortega last December with the most significant strikes landed in a single bout in UFC history, but it must also be noted that Ortega hit back – 110 times, in fact.
Poirier is confident he doesn’t have to connect nearly that many times to get the win.
“Ortega’s a great fighter, but I can crack,” Poirier said. “I’m going to throw a lot more volume than Ortega did, as well. I’m a high-paced fighter, I push the pace, I push the cardio, I push the energy in there. I try to finish these guys. I go in there not to win rounds, not to point guys out. I go out there to hurt these guys and get them out of there. We’ll see what happens Saturday night, and I’m going to take him out.”
After Poirier submitted Holloway in the first round of the Hawaiian’s octagon debut at UFC 143 in February 2012, both men have evolved tremendously. They’ve both said they essentially throw that result out and view UFC 236 as a new fight in essentially every aspect.
Poirier is confident one thing won’t be different, though, and that’s getting his hand raised. He just doesn’t know exactly how it will be done.
“I’m going to win Saturday night,” Poirier said. “A lot of people want predictions; I say it’s going to be a tough fight. This might be the best fight anybody’s ever seen. I don’t know. This is going to be a grueling fight, I believe, and he’s going to be in there with no quit as am I. I don’t know a prediction, but I feel like I’m going to stop him.”