Dustin Poirier has big plans.
After a 1-1 stint in the WEC, "Diamond" looked polished in his UFC debut, completely dismantling then number one featherweight contender Josh Grispi via dominant unanimous decision at UFC 125 on New Year's Day.
Having just turned 22 years old, he's got all the time in the world to continue to develop his skills.
The Louisiana fighter trains under Tim Credeur at the Gladiator academy in Lafayette, LA and as he stated in his exclusive interview with MMAmania.com, despite defeating the number one contender, he's in no rush for a title shot.
Instead, he'll be battling UFC newcomer Jason Young on the free Facebook preliminary bouts of UFC 131 this upcoming Saturday (June 11, 2011).
Find out how far away Dustin thinks he is from a shot at UFC gold and how he believes he stacks up with his upcoming opponent Jason Young after the jump.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): Your coach Tim Credeur talked about the "warrior spirit" and never backing down from a challenge. Does that have an influence on you, like why you would take a fight on short notice or not afraid to go in there against a number one contender like Josh Grispi in your last fight?
Dustin Poirier: Yeah man. I'm just a fighter. I'm a fighter at heart. This isn't a hobby for me. Fighting was my lifestyle. I train every day to improve my form in my boxing, my kickboxing and my grappling. If anything, his influence just helps me to want to steadily improve. I was a fighter before I even got in this sport. That's what I want to do. When people call me for a last minute replacement, it's not most fighters. This is what I live for and it just took me a couple weeks to get down in weight.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): You mentioned that you were a fighter before you got involved in MMA. Can you elaborate?
Dustin Poirier: Yeah, growing up , I got in a lot of fights. I got in trouble all the time. I was expelled from school. I've been fighting man my whole life. Not necessarily out there looking for them but I don't really back away from it. Now that I've found a sport where I can test myself in something I love, it just feels natural for me to go out there and just put on a great show and fight. That's the thing about MMA. Once that bell rings, you are ready to go and fight until the bell rings again and we stop. When the bell rings again we keep going and try to finish the fight every minute of every second of every round.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): You were definitely trying to do that against Grispi and obviously in your previous fight against Zach Micklewright, you went in there and took care of business in just 53 seconds.
Dustin Poirier: Yeah, that fight, man, I had worked so hard and sacrificed so much to get there to the WEC and I lost my debut to Danny Castillo, got grinded on and lost a decision. As soon as I lost that fight I knew I had to step up because they would cut me if I lost my first two fights in a row in the organization. It would be a really long road back so I just went in there and did what got me there. I went to town as soon as we started.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): What actually prompted the decision to drop down especially considering you had just won a fight at lightweight in less than a minute?
Dustin Poirier: I was thinking about it it before. The loss to Danny Castillo kind of made me think about changing weight class. I'm 22 years old fighting 30 year old men who have been wrestling their whole lives, cutting weight their whole lives. It's just a different game when you get in there with those guys. I was doing fine at 155 for most of my fights but at that caliber of fighter in the Zuffa organization, WEC, UFC, Strikeforce whatever, that caliber of fighter, you have to take every inch that will give you an advantage. I was cutting a little weight to get down to 155 but those guys were just too big and too strong. I'm not saying I won't ever go back to 155, maybe in a couple years as my body keeps developing I'll move back but right now, it was the best I've ever felt at 145 pounds. That's kind of what made me talk to my manager about doing 145 and when Jose Aldo got hurt, I got the call to take his spot. That sealed the deal right there.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): Now what made them reach out to you? You hadn't even had a fight at 145 before and then the UFC comes calling for you to be on the Spike TV prelims for UFC 125.
Dustin Poirier: Yeah, after the Micklewright fight, in the post-fight interview, I told them I was thinking about maybe dropping weight. Maybe that played into it, maybe they saw that. I'm not sure. I have a good manager who put my name in the box as soon as Aldo got hurt. I'm sure there were other guys they considered but it was less than a month's notice and I guess I was just in the right place at the right time. I'm not sure why it was me. I'm just happy it was.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): The are many people who believe that you took Grispi's momentum and now you're one of the top contenders. Do you think they're getting a little ahead of themselves?
Dustin Poirier: That was my first fight in the UFC, my debut. I've said it before but I don't want to fight for the belt at 22 years old, or 23 for that matter. When it's my time for a shot, I want to be ready. I don't wanna rush anything. I just wanna build my name, grow as a fighter, get comfortable inside the UFC, get a good fanbase and be ready when it's my time. Me beating (Grispi) was a big notch on my belt but I'm not sure about rankings or that kind of stuff. I'm just training every day to be the best fighter I could be. If it was my choice, I'd just want to keep winning and keep fighting tough guys that'll test me and bring the best out of me and grow. I've still got a lot of growing to do.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): Your next opponent was originally going to be Rani Yahya, a really talented Brazilian jiu-jitsu guy and he got hurt so you're stepping in against Jason Young who's making his UFC debut. Is it a little tougher to get motivated since he's not a big contender or are you just getting out there and trying to make a statement?
Dustin Poirier: Not at all, it's not hard to get motivated for this fight whatsoever. It doesn't matter who I'm fighting. When I'm training, I'm just trying to show up as the best possible fighter no matter who it is.Whether it's Jason Young or Jose Aldo, I'm training just as hard and I'm just as focused. It's kinda tough, man. Just like nobody knew about me in my last fight, nobody knows about this guy yet. He's a tough guy, very dangerous. He's a great kickboxer, has decent wrestling defense to stop takedowns and he's fought some really good ground guys, some great jiu-jitsu practitioners and done very well against them. He has a couple knockouts under his belt and he's got some big power in his hands. It's gonna be a great fight.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): Jason has been submitted a few times and you've been working with some brilliant jiu-jitsu minds. How does that play into your preparation? Does that give you confidence?
Dustin Poirier: I didn't wrestle past high school, but I wrestled since I was 12 years old and grappled after. I've been a jiu-jitsu practitioner for a while now, I've competed in a lot of tournaments. I've won lots of 'em, lost lots of 'em. I'm a purple belt now under Tim Credeur and I've been doing jiu-jitsu for five years. I'm very comfortable on the ground. My last fight with Grispi didn't really get to show it too much because, to tell you the truth, I looked at the clock and saw how much time was left and I knew I had it. I could have tried something crazy, pulled him into my guard and went for submissions but I didn't want to put myself in a bad position. In my Danny Castillo fight, I was very active with transitions and lots of submissions. That's more of what my game is like. Lots of attacking from my guard. I think people underrate my ground game.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): Did you have any final predictions on how you feel this upcoming fight with Jason Young will play out? What can the fans expect from your performance?
Dustin Poirier: The fans can expect a war. It's gonna be an all-out war, man. Him trying to finish me, me trying to finish him. Two guys that don't stop, don't take any steps backwards. It'll be action the whole fight. If this goes to decision, I surely believe it'll be fight of the night at the worst. I believe somebody's gonna get finished. He's too dangerous and I am too. We're gonna bust each other up and it's gonna be incredible.
So what do you think Maniacs?
Is this bout going to be the all-out war that Dustin predicts it to be? How bright is "Diamond's" future?