UFC 236: Five Marquee Moments in Dustin Poirier’s Rise to Title Contention

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Dustin Poirier UFC
Dustin Poirier Credit: Jay Anderson/Cageside Press

Dustin Poirier has been an elite fighter in professional mixed martial arts for a while now. His title shot at UFC 236 has been a long time coming, if you’ve been paying attention.

A fun fighter, UFC veteran, and an overall good guy, Dustin Poirier is an MMA promotion’s dream. The 30-year-old has been under the UFC/WEC banner since 2010, earning nine Performance of the Night bonuses in 23 fights. Oh, and three of those nine bonuses have come in his last three bouts. In other words: Poirier is on a roll.

That streak of fun fights, and wins, has Poirier on the verge of becoming the UFC (interim) lightweight champion. That opportunity comes against UFC featherweight champion, and former foe, Max Holloway at UFC 236.

Poirier won that first matchup, back in February of 2012 at UFC 143. That bout was at featherweight, and a lot has changed since then. They’ve both had some ups, and some downs. But, for the most part, both Poirier and Holloway have been among the elite in their respective divisions.

Since making his move to lightweight, Poirier has developed into the fighter everyone was hoping he’d become. But he wasn’t always seen as a future champion. These five moments in Poirier’s career have made him the title-contender he is today.

Poirier joins WEC, takes first career loss

At 21-years-old, making his WEC debut, Poirier was dealt the first loss of his career by Danny Castillo. As is the often the case in fighting, and life, how you respond to setbacks is more important than the setback itself. Following the loss, Poirier ripped off a five-fight winning streak, which includes his win over Holloway at UFC 143.

Poirier would compete under the WEC banner once more, in the promotion’s penultimate event: WEC 52. There, he earned a TKO victory over Zach Micklewright in 53 seconds. Later that year, WEC would be absorbed by UFC.

Returning to lightweight

After his loss to Conor McGregor at UFC 178, Poirier put the featherweight division in the rearview mirror. In his time at 145-pounds in WEC/UFC, the Louisiana-native went 8-3. He earned wins over Diego Brandao, Erik Koch, and Holloway, and suffered losses to McGregor, Cub Swanson, and Chan Sung Jung.

Moving up looked like the right call, right away. Poirier defeated his first 155-pound UFC opponent, Carlos Diego Ferreira, with a first-round KO. This victory was the first in a string of three first round finishes in his next four fights, all of which were wins.

Michael Johnson KOs Poirier in UFC Hidalgo main event

In his second UFC main event, the result was the same as the first for Poirier. This time, instead of being submitted by Chan Sung Jung, Poirier was KO’d by Michael Johnson in 95 seconds. The loss ended a four-fight winning streak, and raised some serious questions about Poirier’s title aspirations in the lightweight division.

Much like his first career loss, and his loss to McGregor, Poirier would respond to adversity well. This is his last loss, in September of 2016. He’s defeated two former lightweight champions since, going 4-0 (1) en route to a shot at the 155-pound title.

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