Dustin Poirier has always been a fighter, but not always the good kind.
Admittedly hanging out with the wrong crowd and having no direction earlier in his life, it was the realization that he could be the best in the world at something after discovering mixed martial arts (MMA) that has kept him focused.
He hasn't looked back.
The bayou brawler has quickly gone 4-0 in his UFC career and will be headlining his first main event next Tuesday night (May 15, 2012) when he faces "The Korean Zombie" Chan Sung Jung at UFC on Fuel TV 3 in Fairfax, Virginia.
In part one of our interview, "Diamond" discussed his obsessive tunnel vision on his opponent and more. Today, he talks about the advantages of fighting a popular opponent, how he adapted his fighting style after his loss to Danny Castillo and the outside pressure to challenge for the title in this exclusive interview.
Check it out:
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): The Korean Zombie is also one of the most popular lighter weight class fighters in the entire UFC with that great introduction he had against Garcia and then his twister submission and the seven second knockout. Do you feel like a victory over him would really springboard you in terms of recognition?
Dustin Poirier: Yeah, I feel like for sure a big win will gain me a lot of fans. There's gonna be all eyes on me whether they're watching the fight because of him or whatever. It doesn't matter because they'll be watching the fight and I'm gonna have a great performance and I'm thinking a lot of people are going to be finding out about me. If you like fighting, you're gonna like my style.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): I've actually got a question about your fighting style. I noticed that you changed yours slightly after the Danny Castillo loss at lightweight. You used to have a really strong focus on guard play and working off your back for submissions. Did you kind of change that because there are so many guys that are tougher to catch from bottom in the UFC?
Dustin Poirier: Yeah, you know if you're on your back, you're losing most of the time. That was the first time I ran into a wrestler of that caliber. I felt how strong he was and I just wasn't expecting that. I was ready for a great fight but I just didn't expect to be manhandled pretty much and be at such a disadvantage in wrestling so really I focused more on my wrestling a lot. I also focused a lot more on not just winning rounds but getting myself in better positions on the ground where I'm not losing and just engaging smarter which is important because I have to win. If you're on your back, you're losing. If your back is to the fence and you're getting pressured, you're losing. I really focused on my positioning in my game.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): You've repeatedly stated that you're from the "school of hard knocks." What was it that fighting in MMA has helped ground you where everything else that was attempted in your youth didn't?
Dustin Poirier: It gave me something to focus on. People can try to help you as much as they want but it doesn't matter if they don't know what you're about. I love fighting. I was walking around aimlessly before, hanging around with the wrong people. I didn't have any goals but then I found something that I could be the best at and that's what changed me.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): You've talked about how you were born a fighter, you had it in your blood because your father was a fighter and your grandfather was a fighter. What I was wondering was, could you elaborate on that? Were they boxers? Were they barroom brawler? What kind of fighters were they?
Dustin Poirier: They were who they wanted to be. They were just rough guys, rough fighters, man. There's not much more you can say.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): You always get asked about title shots, so I'm not going to ask about Aldo. What I do want to ask on that topic, though, is that with your success that you've had and your current youth, do you feel like there's a lot of pressure on your from media and other outside sources to rush into a title shot even though you'd personally rather wait a bit longer?
Dustin Poirier: Yeah, they're always asking me why I'm not calling out for that title shot or having pressure for that title shot or when do I plan on fighting for that title. I'm young yet, just 23 years old. I'm learning on the job and I'm not winning these fights by accident. It's skills and hard work that are winning me these fights. I'm gonna be here for a while and I'm gonna be ready when I do fight for the title.
I just want to continue to grow and get better as a fighter and step up my competition and I don't need to rush into the title shot or anything like that. It doesn't matter what people say. It's not gonna make me start calling out guys or anything like that or say I need the belt or that crap. Whenever it's time, it'll be time and I feel it is getting closer and after I finish Chan Sung Jung, maybe one more fight or I'll be the next guy to fight the champion. I don't know. One fight at a time.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): This one was submitted by our readers at MMAmania. What do you think of the MTV show 'Caged' which has an MMA theme and takes place in Louisiana area close to where you grew up?*
Dustin Poirier: I think for the rest of the world to see what we do as martial artists in that light, like that, it kind of doesn't do justice to the way that I train and the way the guys here work. They have people drinking the week of the fight and cutting weight like that in cars and training like that in the backyard. We're legitimate. There's a lot of legitimate schools out here. I think they just kind of picked a few guys who they thought would look good on camera.
Actually, one of the guys from 'Caged,' Matt Schnell, moved to our gym and actually trains now at the Gladiator Training Academy in Lafayette and I think he can make a career out o fit. He's got a lot of potential and I think he's a great athlete. He's still young so I think he's gonna be a guy to look out for but I don't really know anything about those other guys. That's about it. That's all I have to say about that show.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): Another reader question, what was it like growing up 'Cajun' in the Louisiana area?**
Dustin Poirier: Well I don't know any different. It's just great food, great people, work hard and party hard. That's how us Cajuns work, man. They eat good and like to have a good time and they love their sports. They are die-hard sports fans.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): When you're visualizing success against Chan Sung Jung in the main event of UFC on Fuel 3? What do you see?
Dustin Poirier: I see the referee stopping the fight. I see me knocking him out. I see me hitting him three times every time he throws one punch. Accuracy and speed will be key and I see myself being the best I've ever been, polished and prepped to fight.
Dustin would like to thank Headrush, MusclePharm and the Gladiator Training Academy of Lafayette. You can follow him on Twitter @DustinPoirier.
So what do you think, Maniacs?
How do you think Poirier will fare in his first UFC headlining bout against "The Korean Zombie?" Would you like to see him fight for the title soon or would you rather he continue to develop?
*Question via BO_knows_MMA
**Question via Ulf Murphy