Dustin Poirier is no stranger to being counted out long before a fight ever happens.
Throughout his career, the 30-year old Louisiana native has overcome tough odds again and again and despite his success, he’s still often considered a massive underdog in his biggest fights.
For his last outing, featherweight champion Max Holloway walked into the Octagon as a decided favorite to beat Poirier with the interim lightweight title on the line. Poirier ultimately won the fight by unanimous decision.
Now Poirier is once again facing the perception that he’s out gunned going into his next fight as he faces undefeated Russian wrecking machine Khabib Nurmagomedov later this year to unify the UFC lightweight championship.
Nurmagomedov is definitely as good as advertised with a perfect 27-0 record while leaving a trail of the broken and beaten fighters he’s defeated behind him. It’s not a surprise that Nurmagomedov would be favored to win against Poirier but many people are already behaving like the fight has happened and the outcome is predetermined.
“That’s my damn life story — proving people wrong,” Poirier told MMANews about being counted out yet again. “I’ve been doubted a lot. Not just in fighting but not finishing high school, making it out of the city, just the path that I’ve chosen in life. I’ve been the underdog a lot and it’s just a role that I’m getting used to.
“I don’t mind cause I know what I’m capable of. At this point in my career and at this point in my life, I know who I am as a person, as a fighter, as a father, a husband, a human being. I’m just confident and happy to take on challenges.”
While the fight with Nurmagomedov is still months away, Poirier has already been asked numerous times how he matches up with the wrestling and the dominant ground game of the reigning lightweight champion.
He’s been quizzed about Nurmagomedov’s relentless pace and the innate ability he has to bludgeon his opponents into submission over the course of five rounds Perhaps the question he’s answered the most is whether or not he’s found holes in the game of the undefeated Russian, who has only lost one round in his entire UFC career.
“Anybody can be beat. Whoever bleeds can lose,” Poirier said. “People have already started asking me about this fight — ‘what are you going to do? Where do you think you can expose Khabib? What holes? What can you do to stop what he’s done to 27 other people? — I don’t have a good answer. I wish I did.
“But I have good jiu-jitsu, I have good kickboxing, my fight IQ is off the charts and I don’t quit. I don’t stop. I fight to win. I’ll make things happen in there. I surprise myself. I go in there and surprise myself. I don’t know what’s going to happen but I know I can beat him. That’s what I do know.”
As great as it was to win the interim title, Poirier knows his work is far from finished.
If anything, Poirier’s championship victory has just made him that much more determined to become the first person to hand Nurmagomedov a loss when they finally meet.
“Anybody can be beat,” Poirier said. “I feel more hungry, I feel more dangerous. I’ll show you in September.”