Max Holloway vs Dustin Poirier: A Twist Nobody Saw Coming
By Sandi Martin
In a twist that no one saw coming in the chaos that has become the UFC lightweight title picture, an interim title matchup was finally announced and one of the fighters isn’t even currently fighting in the division. Max Holloway, the featherweight champion will fight top lightweight contender Dustin Poirier.
Tony Ferguson was widely expected to fight for title after Khabib Nurmagurmedov was suspended for several months and then announced that he would sit out as long as his suspended teammates were forced to sit out too. With the possibility of the hottest division in the UFC being held up until November of this year, the UFC quickly started looking to make an interim title fight.
Many expected that Tony Ferguson would be matched up against Poirier due to their rankings, but there were those that suggested Poirier didn’t deserve the shot and should instead fight Al Iaquinta, a fight that was rumoured to have been offered to both fighters.
Poirier, rightly upset by this snub, even tweeted that the UFC should just release him if they weren’t going to make him a serious offer. Fans joined in his outrage and his haters said he should just shut up and fight whoever the UFC put in front of him. Dustin Poirier, company man, did that long enough and his outrage was warranted.
Holloway has certainly dominated his competition with a 13 fight win streak, most recently beating Brian Ortega after having 3 fights in a row cancelled, including an earlier bout scheduled against Ortega. Holloway appeared to be slurring his words and displaying concussion-like symptoms in public, prompting a cancellation pending further medical testing.
A fight for the vacant lightweight title last April against Khabib was cancelled after Holloway’s weight cut was deemed unsafe by the athletic commission. It appears he’s earned another shot at that 155 title in the eyes of the UFC but he’ll have to get through the hungriest, most motivated, sharpest Dustin Poirier we’ve ever seen. It won’t be an easy road to the title for either of these fighters.
Of course, Poirier has already beaten Holloway, submitting him via triangle arm bar in 2012. But this is the “Blessed Era” and Holloway has certainly evolved since then.
Unfortunately for Max, Poirier has undergone a similar evolution and improved in almost every possible way.
Social media is leaning heavily towards a Holloway victory, but seeing as he is a fan favourite that doesn’t really serve to surprise. Poirier hardly gets the respect he deserves as a fighter, but he doesn’t seem to be bothered by the general lack of confidence from the masses. If anything it only serves to motivate him and transfer the pressure to Max Holloway’s shoulders.
Holloway is a special fighter, there’s no question about that. Poirier is a workhorse with incredible discipline and skill. Holloway is taller, but Poirier has a huge reach advantage. They are both extremely skilled strikers and I think this fight will be competitive and wildly entertaining.
My own personal belief is that Poirier will find a way to win this one, as he’s not the kind of guy to take a title shot he’s been begging for lightly. To be fair, my own personal bias is all over my twitter feed; the Louisiana native is and has been since the first time I saw him fight, my favourite professional fighter.
The real question is what happens when Khabib comes back? Can either one of these fighters defeat him? Will he come back at all? The lightweight division of the UFC doesn’t disappoint in the drama department, but in April things are about to get just a little more complicated.