UFC 242 Breakdown
Adam Hagy and Gary A. Vasquez for USA TODAY Sports

The UFC has a new interim champion after Dustin Poirier beat Max Holloway in a bloody slugfest (highlights right here) in the main event of last night’s (Sat., April 13, 2019) UFC 236 from the State Farm Arena in Atlanta, Georgia. A title unification versus undisputed champ Khabib Nurmagomedov should be next up for “The Diamond,” so it’s time Poirier reveals why he is able to defeat the dominant Dagestani.

‘The Diamond’ was asked by MMA Junkie at the UFC 236 post-fight press conference just why he believed he would be the first fighter to beat Khabib when 27 other men failed. He responded with a short, no-nonsense statement that’s become commonplace from the hard-nosed, workmanlike competitor:

“Grit. Determination. The right amount of crazy. Self-belief. Everything it takes to be a champion, I have that.”

All The Intangibles

There’s no denying Poirier has all of those things in droves. ‘The Diamond’ was well on his way to destroying Holloway early at UFC 236. Yet he met a strong pushback from the Hawaiian champ in the third round. He admitted he was fading but dug deep to find a second wind and battle until the bell sounded.

After Poirier was named the winner by a 49-46 count on all three judges’ cards, he immediately called out Khabib for a unification fight. The undefeated lightweight king caught word of it and replied he thought the fight was a draw before offering to battle Poirier in September.

But even though he could have perceived that as a slight, ‘The Diamond’ wasn’t counting points against ‘Blessed.’ All he knew was his coach told him he needed to win the fifth and final round of the hard-fought war to become UFC champ:

“I didn’t know. My boxing coach told me coming into the fifth round when I was sitting on the stool, he said, ‘If you go out there win this round, you’re the world champion.’ My corner had me either tied there or ahead, and I won the fifth round, I feel like.

“But I didn’t know. When you’re in a fight like that, you’re getting hurt and you’re hurting him, there’s blood everywhere, it’s up, it’s down – I don’t know.”

A Bright Future

‘The Eagle’ has been rumored to be returning in Abu Dhabi in September, and Poirier was asked if he wanted to make that journey to unify the titles. The new interim boss said he hadn’t thought that far into the future:

“I honestly haven’t had time to digest that and think about those thoughts. There were talks about it, whoever won this fight was going to fight (Nurmagomedov), but I didn’t think that far. I knew I had my hands full with Max. I’ll start thinking about it and we’ll see, but I don’t know what’s going to happen.”

Time To Unify Lightweight Titles

‘The Diamond’ was then asked if he would eventually battle Holloway a third time. He appeared a bit silenced by that question after handily beating ‘Blessed’ twice. Because of that, overall, Poirier was justifiably focused on a unification bout with Khabib above all else:

“My next fight has to be for a unification fight,” he said. “But I love Max. I’ll fight him five more times.”