Dustin Poirier: Five Finest Fights and Finishes

Dustin Poirier, UFC 302
Dustin Poirier, UFC 302 official weigh-in Credit: Dylan Napoleone/Cageside Press

In the first installment of ‘Five Fights & Finishes’ our own Val Dewar looks back at the legendary career of lightweight great Dustin Poirier, ahead of his UFC 302 title fight against Islam Makhachev, to give context and analysis on how these fights and finishes help define Poirier as a fighter. Which fights and finishes are most important, and which are most thrilling? Count down with us from five to one and find out.

Finish #5: Poirier vs McGregor 2

When Dustin Poirier senses his enemy is hurt, licking their wounds and seeking to take time to recover, he is the most dangerous man in our sport. He is a pitbull with a bloody death grip locked on the throat, inching towards the jugular. The more punches he lands, the more the opponent is convinced to lie down, the more potential energy Poirier gains, rolling downhill ready to unleash kinetic torrents on his reeling foe.

His most famous and perhaps most epic victory perhaps best displayed that hallmark of Poirier’s style which appeals to combat-lovers. That finish was the catalyst which vaulted Poirier from being a darling of hardcore violence fans, to a superstar for the masses — that finish being his knockout of Conor McGregor at UFC 257. As a three-to-one underdog, counted our after a loss to McGregor years before and arguments of, “Well Dan Hooker almost beat him,” Dustin Poirier shattered the plans of the biggest combat star ever by stopping ‘Notorious’ in his grand return to the division where he won his second belt.

Conor landed some of his sharpest and best-timed punches ever in the octagon that night, displaying benefits to his new boxing stance. Yet the fact that he had never before faced a fighter as implacable and durable as prime Dustin ‘the Diamond’ Poirier would shatter McGregor’s notorious innate confidence until he questioned himself so much that his stance entirely changed for their trilogy, resulting in a less effective offensive output. Poirier ate McGregor’s acclaimed left straight several times, but chipped away with his own lead hook and calf kick, which Conor could have defended but but not checked, until he had the Irishman in the perfect position.

Dustin’s famous finishing sequences are all alike in that they begin when the time is right. He doesn’t force them, he capitalizes on a hole opened by the consistent damage he inflicts with his normal process. You see it against Alvarez, Gaethje, McGregor, even Chandler, Poirier just has predator DNA; when he scents blood, he finishes off his prey. He has an incredible ability to pour on the pressure for thirty, forty seconds with constant offense, landing punches with actual weight behind them, not just arm-punch flurries. That’s the only time Dustin implements a true pressure cooker offense.

Against Conor McGregor, he waited until the temperature was right. When Conor began to tire a little bit and be somewhat worn down physically, Poirier unleashed his torrent. A big left hand and a clever bit of cagecraft began the end, and Dustin rolling downhill finished it, making him an instant star.