It might sound cliché for Dustin Poirier to say things like he’s not looking past his next fight and the future doesn’t exist past UFC 236 on April 13 but that is exactly how he feels.
While it’s rather common to hear fighters to make those kinds of proclamations, Poirier’s reasoning goes deeper than just focusing on getting the job done in his first shot at UFC gold.
To win the interim lightweight title, Poirier has to get through reigning featherweight champion Max Holloway, who comes into UFC 236 on an incredible 13-fight win streak including a pair of TKO wins over argualy one of the greatest pound-for-pound mixed martial artists of all time in Jose Aldo.
The way Poirier sees it, looking past UFC 236 is disrespecting his upcoming opponent and Holloway deserves nothing less than his undivided attention.
“People are saying Max is one of the pound-for-pound best guys right now,” Poirier said when speaking to MMAWeekly. “He’s been looking incredible. I’ll give it to him. His performances have been looking great. Looks very well-rounded, looks good everywhere, his confidence is high.
“The guy’s the champ. He’s the 145-pound undisputed world champion.”
Obviously, Poirier is aware that his mission will only be half-complete with a win over Holloway at UFC 236.
The main event winner will be crowned interim lightweight champion with a unification bout then expected in September against undefeated Russian Khabib Nurmagomedov.
Poirier knows that’s what the future holds for him but he can’t think about anything other than the task at hand for now.
:I can’t look past this fight and look ahead to the future about unification or the fight with Khabib or whatever is going on in the lightweight division,” Poirier said. “I can’t think that far. All I can see is April 13. 25 minutes with a very tough opponent. I have my hands full. I can’t disrespect the hustle that I’ve put in and the hustle that it takes to become the interim world champion.
“None of that stuff matters right now. We’ll cross that bridge when we get there. Right now it’s 25 minutes, five rounds with Max Holloway on April 13 to become the interim lightweight world champion and I’ll have a piece of the world title and then we’ll worry about unifying the belts.”
As far as what it means to become interim champion, Poirier refuses to look at the title as some placeholder’s trophy just because Nurmagomedov is sidelined until later this year.
Poirier has poured blood, sweat and tears into finally getting this opportunity and he really doesn’t care what anybody else thinks about this accomplishment.
All that matters is getting that gold belt wrapped around his waist on April 13 and Poirier promises he’s going to feel like the champion.
“This is a world championship,” Poirier said. “This is a piece of the world championship and then it needs to be unified but I don’t even think about that. I’m just happy for the opportunity to touch gold in this fight, for whatever it’s worth.
“For people out there judging, I don’t really care. To me it’s a world championship.”