‘If I can tick that box, I’ve done it all in MMA’: Dustin Poirier eyes legacy defining title against ‘the best jiu-jitsu practitioner in the UFC’ Charles Oliveira as he looks ahead to inevitable second shot at the belt
- Dustin Poirier remains the No 1 contender at lightweight and is set for a title shot
- ‘Diamond’ is on brilliant run of seven wins in his last eight against top opponents
- Recent victory over Conor McGregor has teed up a fight with Charles Oliveira
- He believes the Brazilian has the best attacking jiu-jitsu of anyone in the UFC
Dustin Poirier has capitalised on the power vacuum created by Khabib Nurmagomedov’s retirement like nobody else.
The waters of the division at 155-pounds remains muddied for some time after the Dagestani walked off into the sunset but ‘Diamond’ has cut through the uncertainty.
His two wins over Conor McGregor, the second and most recent of which at UFC 264 came following the Irishman’s unfortunate leg break, have elevated him onto a new level of stardom.
Dustin Poirier’s second win over Conor McGregor means he is essentially guaranteed a title shot against Charles Oliveira
Poirier dominated McGregor for a round before the Irishman broke his leg
Of course, Poirier has been a big name and fan favourite for years but the riches and profile a couple of wins over the ‘Notorious’ can bring marks a dramatic boost to his profile.
That heightened level of stardom is a tricky test for elite athletes who find the dedication to their craft can be tested by business opportunities and commitments away from the training room.
But Poirier has won seven of his last eight and the next level of stardom is something he’s been managing well.
He exclusively told Sportsmail: ‘It is a great feeling when I get home but then I am being pulled in so many different directions, everybody is trying to get me to agree to stuff and I only have so much time to be a dad.
‘The bigger the fight, the more people reach out, so business wise my schedule I only have so much time to give, I don’t want people to think I’m pushing people away but I’m just protecting my own energy, I can’t keep giving it all out, I only have so much to give.
‘I turn everything off when it is time to prepare for a fight, all the meetings, the places to be, all I do is focus for eight weeks on the fight and get tunnel vision with my blinkers on and after that we can knock down all the other stuff I have to do.’
He has a growing army of major sponsors from energy drink CELSIUS, to Samsung and Everlast.
Poirier has his own brand of hot sauce and also spends time working with The Good Fight foundation, his charitable organisation. These are the trappings of success and the 32-year-old has found plenty of that after a lifetime of work to reach the top.
The pinnacle remains an undisputed UFC championship and he will undoubtedly be matched up with new champion Charles Oliveira next.
Oliveira has improved dramatically on the feet and has a dangerous ground game too
Poirier is full of respect for the Brazilian and believes he’s the most dangerous fighter in the roster on the ground.
He said: ‘Oliveira is a very dangerous guy, I think he’s improving more and more in his striking, putting guys down, he’s long especially for that weight class and I think he’s probably the best jiu-jitsu practitioner in the UFC roster right now.
‘He’s aggressive and very offensive with his jiu-jitsu. He doesn’t just use it to protect himself or get out of bad positions, he attacks people with it and finishes fights with it so he’s a very dangerous opponent who has paid his dues and fought a long time in the UFC.
‘For me, being undisputed world champion was the goal from the beginning, if I can tick that box, I’ve done it all in the sport of mixed martial arts.’
He reveals that the UFC are yet to reach out about the fight but it seems a matter of time.
Poirier is the No 1 contender but the lightweight division is stacked with talent and one man on the rise is Islam Makhachev, Khabib’s protege, who put away the American’s team-mate Thiago Moises this month.
Poirier says the title would mean he has achieved everything he set out to do in MMA
Islam Makhachev’s suffocating pressure impressed Poirier against his team-mate
‘Diamond’ was impressed with what he saw from the Dagestani, adding: ‘Makhachev was fighting one of my team-mates from American Top Team so of course I was watching that.
‘It was a dominant performance, he seems very smothering, very controlling and Thiago is a great jiu-jitsu practitioner, I’ve trained with him since he was 17-years-old and he is tough to submit, so that shows you Makhachev’s jiu-jitsu is at a very, very high level, as is his wrestling, it is another contender in the top heavy lightweight division.’
In all likelihood, Poirier will fight for the title before the end of this year. It would cap a sensational, future Hall of Fame career, so what would come next.
Would he want to defend the belt 10 times or sail off into retirement?
‘We’ll see man’, he says. ‘I’ll probably just go and sell hot sauce!’
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