Asked why, the newly minted UFC interim lightweight champ told MMA Junkie, “Grit. Determination. The right amount of crazy. Self-belief. Everything it takes to be a champion, I have that.”
After a gutsy win over the iron-jawed Max Holloway (20-5 MMA, 16-5 UFC), it’s hard to disagree. In 40 total professional and amateur fights, Poirier (25-5 MMA, 17-4 UFC) said he’s only twice left the cage with sore hands, and Saturday’s pay-per-view headliner at State Farm Arena in Atlanta was one of them.
Not everyone was convinced by Poirier’s performance, of course. On Twitter, Nurmagomedov (27-0 MMA, 11-0 UFC) called the UFC 236 main event a draw, though he still gave the new interim champ his due and welcomed a fight in September.
Poirier could’ve clapped back at the sour note, but he was instead earnest about his impressions on scoring.
“I didn’t know,” he said. “My boxing coach told me coming into the fifth round when I was sitting on the stool, he said, ‘If you go out there win this round, you’re the world champion.’ My corner had me either tied there or ahead, and I won the fifth round, I feel like.
“But I didn’t know. When you’re in a fight like that, you’re getting hurt and you’re hurting him, there’s blood everywhere, it’s up, it’s down – I don’t know.”
What’s indisputable is that Poirier has fought his way to the top after years of ups and downs as a featherweight and lightweight. Now on the cusp of a title unifier, he’ll get a chance to earn his biggest accolade to date and claim his place in UFC history if he can beat Nurmagomedov.
He might have to go to Abu Dhabi to do that if reports of the fight’s intended location prove true, but he doesn’t seem to mind much. A September timeline doesn’t present any immediate concerns; he said his hands and an irritated bicep were his only injuries from the fight with Holloway.
“I honestly haven’t had time to digest that and think about those thoughts,” Poirier said about a timeline for the title unifier. “There were talks about it, whoever won this fight was going to fight (Nurmagomedov), but I didn’t think that far. I knew I had my hands full with Max. I’ll start thinking about it and we’ll see, but I don’t know what’s going to happen.”
UFC President Dana White opined that Holloway should return to the featherweight division where he holds a belt, but after beating him for a second time, Poirier said he’ll gladly welcome the Hawaiian champ back into the cage again somewhere down the line.
“My next fight has to be for a unification fight,” he said. “But I love Max. I’ll fight him five more times.”
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- UFC 236 bonuses: No surprise with two $50,000 'Fight of Night' winners
Source: USA Today – MMA Junkie
Read the full article here: Dustin Poirier says he'll beat Khabib Nurmagomedov with 'the right amount of crazy'