Dustin Poirier is the best he’s ever been ahead of UFC 236 this weekend.
As much as that might sound like an over confident statement, Poirier isn’t getting cocky before facing featherweight champion Max Holloway in the main event on Saturday night from Atlanta.
Instead, Poirier believes it’s just the culmination of all the hard work he’s put into his career that finally led him to the opportunity to compete for the UFC interim lightweight title.
In the past, Poirier will be the first to admit that he’s been guilty of making bad decisions in the middle of a fire fight inside the Octagon. Through several painful lessons, he’s learned how to tamp down his tendencies to get drawn into a slugfest and these days he’s rather enjoying playing the hammer much more than he ever did when he was the nail.
“I’m obviously the most mature I’ve been, the most patient and just over time and understanding of the fight game,” Poirier said ahead of UFC 236. “I know it’s dangerous I’m still battling that not to just bite down and plant my feet and duke it out with these guys. I usually end up on the right side of that but the times that I don’t aren’t worth it. I know I have the power and the grit to put a lot of these guys away but when I do fight like that, it’s just whoever lands that shot first.
“That’s just totally disrespecting the years of work that I’ve put in. I’m just hardwired that way. I’m a fighter at heart. When things get ugly, when things get tough, I don’t flight. I fight.”
The improvements he’s made in his game have been undeniable over the past few years, especially after Poirier stopped killing himself to cut down to featherweight.
At lightweight, Poirier is 8-1 with one no contest and his last three fights have all earned him post fight bonuses.
In that trio of consecutive wins, Poirier has taken out two former UFC champions in Anthony Pettis and Eddie Alvarez while also putting Justin Gaethje down in his most recent performance. Poirier managed to finish all three of those opponents by either knockout or submission while steadily climbing up the lightweight rankings.
Holloway will present the opportunity for Poirier to not only win the UFC interim lightweight title but it also affords him the chance to add another champion to his resume. In addition to his accolades as the reigning and defending featherweight king, Holloway has also racked up 13 wins in a row with a string of performances equally as impressive as Poirier.
By that measure it would appear this main event fight will pose the classic paradox ‘what happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object?’ but Poirier doesn’t intend on allowing that to happen.
As much as he’s prepared for five rounds of hell on Saturday night, Poirier is also confident that he can do to Holloway the same that he did to Alvarez, Gaethje and Pettis in his last three fights.
“I know I can,” Poirier said. “I just have to go out there with the mindset and go out there ready to overcome anything he does. Ready to overcome anything that comes up in there. Whatever happens, I trust in myself and believe in my abilities. I know I can get it done and I know I can make it look smooth doing it.
“This is the perfect time for me to showcase my true abilities because the guy is coming off great performances, everybody is talking about him. He’s really shining out there, outclassing people. If I go out there and do that to him, that really makes a statement winning the belt but really outclassing one of the best guys in the UFC right now.”