With three straight stoppage wins against elite competition, Dustin Poirier finally has his UFC title shot.

Poirier will face featherweight champion Max Holloway for the interim UFC lightweight belt in the main event of April 13’s UFC 236 from the State Farm Arena in Atlanta, Georgia. It may not be the official title bout he desires, but it’s a step towards securing that (hopefully).

”The Diamond’ has been out of action since an electric TKO win over former rival Eddie Alvarez at last July’s UFC Calgary. He believed that victory – his third finish in eight months – had earned him a title shot at the winner of UFC 229’s Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Conor McGregor main event. But when both ‘The Eagle’ and the infamous MMA megastar were suspended for their post-fight brawl, the division was thrust into even more uncertainty.

At The Pinnacle

That set Poirier’s long-running quest for a UFC title back by an indefinite amount of time. He finally arrived at his goal, however, and he’s ready to climb that mountain. It’s been a long road, true, but Poirier told MMA Junkie Radio that he is a unique individual. Because of that, his next fight is the culmination of his life’s work to this point:

“I just feel like I’m different than a lot of these guys. When I set my mind to something, I find ways to make it happen by any means. Since I was 17, 18 years old, I set the goal to be a world champion in mixed martial arts, and in my amateur career, I won some small belts. In my pro career, I won some small belts, and now we’re at the pinnacle. It’s time to collect this one.”

He’s at the relative peak in a sense now, yet the work is far from done. Still, it’s a welcome departure from the spot he was in just months ago. He believed he was being put on ice because of other fighters’ mistakes while he was simply winning his fights:

“That’s just the business of what we do at the highest level,” Poirier said. “I was just in a rough spot, I felt like I was being put on the shelf for other people’s actions. I did nothing but show up and fight, make weight, and leave it all out there every time I went in.”

No Fights

Khabib and McGregor toiled in limbo as they awaited their brawl punishments from the NSAC. Poirier said he was receiving no real fight offers as a result. When they did receive said punishment, the clarity he thought would follow wasn’t there immediately. All he wanted, he claimed, was a big match that made sense for where he was:

“I wasn’t getting fights that made sense, I thought. I wasn’t getting any offers, actually, and I felt like that was because of the whole situation at the top of the division with the champion and the top-ranked guy, Conor, being suspended. We were all waiting for that hearing to happen, and when it finally happened, I was assuming there would be some clarity at the top of the division immediately after, and then a couple of weeks went by and there was still no – nothing started moving.

“So I was like, ‘Dude, what’s going on here?’ you know? I just got really frustrated and wanted to fight and wanted a fight that made sense.”

A Lot To Prove

But despite that relative low point in the game, Poirier said he still loves fighting. Poirier is in a good place mentally, but he’s not done. He’s pumped up about his next fight and believes he still has a lot to accomplish in fighting:

“It’s still a rush, and it’s still – I’m anxious for this fight, and I still have all those feelings I always had, so this is still a lot of fun to me, but at this point in my career, I’ve made a decent living for me and my family. I have a daughter now, and I’m just happy for all the sacrifices that I have made along my career, and the ups and downs that helped make me into the person that I am right now. I’m just good.

“I’m happy with what I’ve done in mixed martial arts, but I’m not satisfied. I’ve got more to do, and I’m just enjoying the journey.”

Fighting Holloway

Taking that next step in his nearly nine-year career under the Zuffa banner will require defeating the surging Holloway. There’s no denying that “Blessed” is one of MMA’s most complete rising stars. Poirier believes it only takes one mistake to change all that, however. He thinks he can take on and finish the Hawaiian champion anywhere the fight goes:

“He seems really well-rounded, honestly, but I have a lot of belief in myself and my ability to make things happen in combat and in the fight,” Poirier said. “All I need is one – one mistake – for him to dip his head the wrong way or to grab me the wrong way or to get up off the ground the wrong way or take a shot. I can finish the fight anywhere.

“I feel like I’m very well-balanced and there’s not a place the fight can go that I don’t have an answer to something he’s doing. All I need is one mistake or one opportunity, and I’m going to take full advantage of it, and I can finish the fight again.”

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