Dustin Poirier: Let’s See Holloway Come Back From Adversity

Dustin Poirier's life

Dustin Poirier and Max Holloway are set to meet for the second time at UFC 236. This time, however, the interim lightweight title will be on the line.

A lot can change in seven years. Such is the situation that next Saturday’s main event presents. Holloway was a 20-year-old kid making his Octagon debut at UFC 143 when he first met Poirier. “The Diamond” was an established prospect in the promotion, having already made three walks to the Octagon.

So much has transpired since their first fight. Shortly after that, “Blessed” went on a run (that he is still on), captured the featherweight title from Jose Aldo, defended it, and so on. Holloway even attempted to step in on six days notice to fight Khabib Nurmagomedov for the lightweight title at UFC 223.

Ultimately, Holloway’s lightweight debut would be put off until now. This is still a situation that Poirier has been well prepared for.

“He’s a big guy,” Poirier said ahead of UFC 236 (via MMAFighting). “He’s taller than me and has trouble making ‘55, that one time he tried to do it on short notice with Khabib, right? They didn’t let him cut the weight. I don’t know what he weighed but he must’ve been a good bit over, so he’s not going to be over-sized [by me]. He could be overpowered because it takes time to adapt to carrying that weight and competing at that weight.”

“But I think he’s going to be the same Max Holloway, maybe even feel better, because he really depleted himself going to ‘45. Like I said, he’s a big guy and I’m sure that’s no fun to get down there, so he might feel the best he’s ever felt.”

Weight Cut Still Not Easy

Like Holloway, Poirier’s UFC career began at 145 pounds. However, “The Diamond” didn’t really hit his groove until he moved up to 155 pounds. Reason being, to put it bluntly, both Poirier and Holloway are massive featherweights. Lightweight could suit Holloway much better.

But Poirier tells of both the good and the bad that come with the change in class:

“There was a little bit of mental relief knowing that I didn’t have to get to ‘45,” Poirier remembered. “And ‘55’s not easy to make either. I’m sure Max is going to feel the same way. After allowing your body to put on the size it wants to and eat the nutrients your body wants to during these hard camps, your body grows and adapts and you fill out even if you’re not trying to add a bunch of muscle. You’re just, your composition changes. It’s hard to really say. And then you find it harder and harder to get down to ‘55 now. I do.”

“Like, my first fight at ‘55, it was a good[-sized] weight cut but it was smooth, there wasn’t any problems. Every other fight since then, sometimes things come up, like, ‘oh shit, this is going to be a hard cut,’ or the weight’s not coming off like I thought, or I’m running miles more and still my weight’s not dropping off as much. So a lot of things happen as your body gets adjusted to those weight classes. So the first one was one of the easier ones for me, and I say easier while using that word very lightly. All weight cuts are hard.”

The Underdog Role

Considering that Holloway will be making his lightweight debut, it is somewhat of a surprise to see that he is a 2-to-1 favorite over the No. 3-ranked Poirier. “The Diamond” would have it no other way. If he didn’t have to grind for it, then he probably didn’t deserve it:

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“Every dog has his day, man, and April 13th is going to be no different,” Poirier said. “I’ve been the underdog my whole life. I’m not even supposed to be here. I’ve overcome a lot of things, and oddsmakers make mistakes. I stay focused. Destiny doesn’t make mistakes. And that’s just how it goes, man. Being in this position isn’t strange to me, and the guy is pound-for-pound top 10. He’s a current reigning featherweight undisputed world champion. He beat one of the best ‘45ers in the world twice, finished him. Look at the streak he’s on.”

“Look at the performances he’s putting together over and over again. Maybe he should be the favorite, you know? If you put paper to paper next to each other, with his last 10 fights, my last 10 fights, I’m sure I’ve done some impressive things, but he’s defended the belt, beat former champions as well. So it’s just like he says: It is what it is, my buddy.”

Mind Of A Savage

And while much of the talk heading into fight week has been about Holloway and for good reason, Poirier is quick to point out some of his accomplishments. He said it’s basically the state of mind of a savage:

“I have the skill set, the cardio, and the muscle endurance to compete with his volume, to compete with his athletic ability, his push,” Poirier said. “He’s going to get a lot of push back, and we’ll see if he can keep it up whenever there’s — you know, it’s not hard to do it when you’re winning the round. Let’s see if he can do it after he loses a couple, let’s see him come back from adversity. Let’s see, when the rounds go back and forth, who’s going to come out with that pep in their step the next round — and I know that’s going to be me because I live for those uncomfortable moments. There’s where fights are won or lost.”

Predicts A War

Poirier then said Holloway would have to be ready to put on a fight of the year-caliber fight, and he would still win:

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“A fight like (Justin) Gaethje or Eddie Alvarez, those are my last fights, those are fights that I was mentally prepared to come out bleeding, to come out limping, to come out f*cked up every round and have to push forward. There’s an end goal. There’s 25 minutes, the bell is going to ring. But I’m going to give all of myself, whatever that is that night, and leave it all in there. And I’m willing to do that again with Max. Is he willing to do that? I hope so. If he is, fight of the night, fight of the year, title fight, fans love it — I still think I come out on top. But I don’t know if he is, and I’m willing to find out, and I’m excited to find out.”

UFC 236 takes place April 13 from the State Farm Arena in Atlanta, Georgia. Holloway vs. Poirier will close the show.