Photo by James Law for SBNation
After four consecutive wins in World Extreme Cagefighting (WEC) -- all stoppages, three by submission and one via technical knockout (TKO) -- Grispi was slated to challenge Jose Aldo at UFC 125 for the Brazilian's strap. Fate intervened, however, when an injury forced "Scarface" out of the bout at the last minute.
"The Fluke" remained on the card and was paired up against a fighter making his 145-pound debut. Everyone assumed the Massachusetts native would pick up the win and go on to face Aldo once the champion was healthy enough to fight.
Everyone except Dustin Poirier.
Nearly a 1.5 years removed from that bout on the first evening of 2011, "The Diamond" finds himself riding a five-fight win streak and headlining tonight's (May 15, 2012) UFC on FUEL TV 3: "Korean Zombie vs. Poirier" card against Chan Sung Jung.
Poirier is on the cusp of a title shot and a win over Jung at the Patriot Center in Fairfax, Va., will push him over the edge and right in the sights of either Aldo or Erik Koch, whichever one of the two emerges victorious at UFC 149.
"The Diamond" didn't get to this position by luck or happenstance. Hard work, perseverance and all the other elements that make a great fighter have afforded him this opportunity.
And it all started at UFC 125.
Let's take a closer look at his bout with Grispi:
Grispi opens up with an inside leg kick and continues throwing kicks at his opponent with varying degrees of success. "The Diamond" answers back with several vicious leg kicks of his own. They clinch up against the cage and begin working each other over with short punches and knees to the legs and body.
They separate and Poirier immediately begins to unload on his title chasing opponent with a bevy of strikes. Bullying "The Fluke" against the cage, Poirier forces the Massachusetts native to retreat while absorbing almost no damage himself. With some distance between them, the Tim Credeur-trained fighter begins to unleash more vicious leg kicks.
A front kick from "The Diamond" smacks Grispi in the middle of his chest and is followed up with another inside leg kick. The same front kick connects again but this time "The Fluke" is knocked to the canvas. Poirier stands over him and is dropped to the mat when Grispi begins to look towards an ankle lock. "The Diamond" is able to avoid the submission, wind up on top and then get back to his feet, forcing the referee to make Grispi do the same.
Poirier immediately pounces on his opponent, opening up with an absolute barrage of punches and knees, drawing a reaction from the crowd. Grispi takes a beating along the cage and shoots in with a weak takedown attempt. Poirier is able to nearly get his opponent's back but "The Fluke" threatens with a kimura attempt.
He nearly gets it locked up but Poirier defends perfectly and escapes the danger, ending the first five minute period on top.
Grispi is the aggressor early into the second round but eats a knee to the body as he shoots in for another takedown. He tries to pressure his opponent against the cage but "The Diamond" reverses position on him and lands a brutal elbow. A vicious uppercut, followed by more punches and a beautiful knee from the clinch have Grispi once again retreating. A carbon copy of the first round plays out as a wobbly Grispi dives in with a half-hearted shot, which is stuffed.
They begin scrambling around on the mat and "The Fluke" is finally able to drag Poirier to the mat and nearly secure a guillotine choke but just as quickly, "The Diamond" reverses Grispi and once again ends up on top. Now bloody from the damage he's taken, Grispi is forced to return to his feet after his opponent opts to continue the fight standing.
Poirier continues to brutalize his opponent against the cage, something none of Grispi's opponents have been able to do during his WEC career. But with less than a minute remaining, it looks like "The Fluke" might pull off a miraculous win when he locks up a triangle choke. Poirier lifts his opponent up and slams him down, shedding the submission off in the process.
The round ends with "The Diamond" unleashing yet another barrage. 10 minutes now gone, two things are certain: Grispi is tough as nails to take as much damage as he has and Poirier is nobody's warm-up fight.
The third round plays out as the previous two did albeit with a much more exhausted Grispi. He eats punches, knees in the clinch and gets stuffed on almost every single takedown attempt. Grispi manages to end the fight on top but does next to nothing with the position before the round and fight ends.
UFC 125 was a coming out party for Poirier. He laid an absolute beating on someone who would have been a title contender in Grispi.
With a win over Jung, "The Diamond" will become a contender himself.
Can he do it?