In the span of a couple of days, Dustin Poirier went from asking for a release from Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) to unexpectedly signing on the dotted line to face current Featherweight champion Max Holloway for the interim Lightweight title at UFC 236 on April 13, 2019 in Atlanta, Georgia.
That’s because Tony Ferguson declined the chance for his second interim strap.
Nevertheless, the 155-pound contender will gladly take the opportunity to fight for his first-ever UFC world title against a man he defeated way back in 2012 in what was “Blessed’s” Octagon debut. With a win over Holloway, one would assume Poirier will get a chance to unify the titles against division king Khabib Nurmagomedov.
According to “Diamond,” though, he wasn’t actually promised it.
“No I have not been promised that. But I assume when I get the belt around my waist that’s what it means. That’s what the interim title means, it means you’re next,” he said on Ariel Helwani’s MMA Show.
“We will cross that bridge when we get to it. I got my hands full, I got another six weeks of grind. I don’t want to create problems that aren’t there yet. I got a lot to do before that.”
As we saw last year, being interim champion doesn’t exactly guarantee a chance to unify the titles. Tony Ferguson was stripped of the interim 155-pound title after a “freak accident” sent him to the sidelines. Also, Colby Covington was stripped of his interim welterweight belt due to inactivity. And when the time came to book Tyron Woodley’s next title defense, it was given to Kamaru Usman, not “Chaos.”
With Khabib not set to make his return to the cage until late November, a lot can happen in the seven months between Poirier and Max’s fight and Khabib’s estimated return date. As far as challenging the 145-pound champ for the belt, Poirier says it’s a little odd, though he understands the storyline behind it.
“It’s a little weird for him to jump up and get a crack at the interim belt, but at the same time, If I’m the next guy, the fight makes sense with the story line that I beat him seven years ago.”
Both men have grown and improved in the seven years since, so Dustin realizes it won’t be the same challenge fighting a man who is now a multiple-time champion as opposed to a UFC rookie.
To learn more about the upcoming UFC 236: “Holloway vs Poirier 2” event click here.