Since moving from featherweight to lightweight, Dustin Poirier has been on a roll in the UFC, dispatching the likes of Joseph Duffy, Yancy Meideros and Carlos Diego Ferreira in succession.
“The Diamond” will attempt to continue his ascent in the division at UFC 199 on June 4, when he squares off with former Strikeforce and King of the Cage competitor Bobby Green in a featured 155-pound bout on pay-per-view at the Forum in Los Angeles. It will be Green’s first appearance since he had an eight-fight winning streak snapped at the hands of Edson Barboza at UFC Fight Night in Austin, Texas on Nov. 22, 2014. It was a frustrating defeat for Green, who openly contemplated retirement before and after the bout.
It took some time, but the man known as “King” is back. Poirier recognizes Green as a talented fighter with some physical gifts but also believes his opponent has some glaring flaws.
“I see a guy who’s definitely experienced,  pro fights on his record, and he’s fought in Strikeforce, fought in the UFC, fought some big names and been around the big show a while,” Poirier said during an appearance on the Sherdog Radio Network’s “Neutral Corner with Yves Edwards” show. “But that being said, he makes a lot of mistakes. He’s got good instincts, and that’s what he fights off of. He’s not so much a technical fighter. He just goes out there and does what he feels is right in the heat of the moment. It’s worked for him. He’s an explosive, instinctual fighter. That’s what I see.”
Anchored at the renowned American Top Team camp, Poirier has had no shortage of talented training partners with which to work as he prepares to welcome Green back to UFC competition. Poirer said that in addition to working with ex-Bellator lightweight champ Will Brooks and current UFC talent Jorge Masvidal, he also got in some rounds with professional boxer Chris Algieri, a former foe of Manny Pacquiao and Amir Khan.
Perhaps more importantly, Poirier’s team has instilled him with the mindset he needs against Green.
“The word and the goal for this camp has been ‘discipline.’ I feel like if I go out there and fight disciplined, stay technical, I beat Bobby everywhere,” Poirier said. “I just can’t go out there and get into a brawl. In the past that’s been a problem for me. I’m a fighter at heart. I want to get in there, throw bombs and get crazy. But I need to take a step back and say, ‘I’m a professional.’ Let’s break this guy down and use the skills. Let’s not make it 50-50 by brawling. My coaches have helped me see that over the last couple fights. That’s what happens when you have good guys around you. When you talk about the game, strengths, weakness, you just keep getting better. At American Top Team, I just have the best coaches around me.”
Poirier also has the opportunity to observe the work habits of a UFC champion. While reigning welterweight king Robbie Lawler is a man of few words, Poirier still has found his time in the gym around the hard-hitting veteran to be useful.
“He’s always been a friend and open about anything. But really, he’s not much of a talker. He’s not gonna sit down and tell me a bunch of stuff about the fight game,” Poirier said. “You’ve got to get bits and pieces from him when you can in conversation and try to run with it. He’s not a guy that’s easy to pick his brain. What I do more with Robbie is watch the way he trains and prepares for his fights. The guy is facing the best guys in the world, doing big five-round fights. I watch how he prepares and I try to mimic that.”
The next few months figure to be memorable for Poirier. He can further establish himself at 155 pounds with a win over Green, and then in August, his wife is expected to give birth to their first child.
“That next step in life is to become a father,” he said. “It’s an exciting time for me too too because I get to go up and beat this guy up, and it’s just perfect timing when she’s gonna have the baby.”
Still just 27 years old, Poirier seemingly has plenty of room for growth. It’s a process that began in earnest following his loss to Conor McGregor at UFC 178 and subsequent move to the lightweight division, and it’s one that he expects to continue against Green on June 4.
“I’m evolving every fight, and I’m gonna put this guy away,” Poirer said.