5 Defining Moments: Dustin Poirier

By Brian Knapp Apr 30, 2020

Dustin Poirier’s resume holds up quite well when compared to his contemporaries, and at just 31 years of age, he has time to build a more complete legacy.

Poirier touched down in World Extreme Cagefighting in August 2010 and migrated to the Ultimate Fighting Championship a little more than four months later, enjoying success in multiple weight classes before settling in as one of the sport’s premier lightweights. “The Diamond” has delivered 19 of his 25 professional victories by knockout, technical knockout or submission, 12 of them inside one round. Operating out of American Top Team in Coconut Creek, Florida, Poirier’s consistency jumps off the page: In a career that now spans 32 fights, he has never suffered back-to-back defeats.

With Poirier biding his time before his next appearance, here are five of the moments that have come to define him:

1. Zombie Apocalypse

“The Korean Zombie” left an indelible mark on the Commonwealth, as Chan Sung Jung rendered Poirier unconscious with a fourth-round brabo choke in their UFC on Fuel TV 3 headliner on May 15, 2012 at the Patriot Center in Fairfax, Virginia. Jung closed the deal 67 seconds into Round 4, bringing a dramatic close to a remarkable encounter between two ascendant talents. The Sengoku veteran was spectacular in victory and had Poirier reeling in the first round, where he struck for a trip takedown from the clinch, moved into side control and opened a cut near the Louisianan’s hairline with a well-placed elbow. The surging Korean nearly finished it in Round 2, as he stunned Poirier with a flying knee, followed it with a series of short uppercuts and lured him into a wild scramble that resulted in several submission attempts, including a pair of triangle chokes. Poirier did his best work in the middle stanza, sticking his fatigued counterpart with one straight left hand after another. However, prosperity was short-lived. In the fourth round, Jung cracked him with a searing right uppercut and backed it up with another flying knee. Out of desperation, Poirier dove for a takedown, leaving his neck exposed in the process. Jung sprawled, deftly locked in the choke and finished it, the crowd erupting with its approval.

2. ‘Mystic Mac’ Attack

Poirier encountered former two-division Cage Warriors Fighting Championship titleholder Conor McGregor prior to his becoming the sport’s biggest star, and it did not go well. The “Notorious” Irishman took out Poirier with a straight left behind the ear and follow-up punches in the first round of their UFC 178 featherweight showcase on Sept. 27, 2014 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. Poirier, who had never before been finished by strikes, met his end 1:46 into Round 1. McGregor backed up “The Diamond” with a series of spinning attacks, stood him up with a clean right to the face and picked his spots from there. A straight left to the side of the ducking Poirier’s head dropped him to all fours and left him vulnerable to subsequent blows, as hammerfists and jackhammer lefts forced referee Herb Dean to intervene on the Tim Credeur protégé’s behalf.

3. Finished Business

Fireworks were a given when Poirier finished his business with Eddie Alvarez with a cataclysmic flurry of punches, elbows and knee strikes in the second round of their UFC on Fox 30 main event on July 28, 2018 at the Scotiabank Saddledome in Calgary, Alberta. Alvarez—whose first encounter with Poirier resulted in a no contest at UFC 211—went out on his shield 4:05 into Round 2, unable to keep up with a man five years his junior. A competitive first round gave way to a wild second, touched off by a pair of attempted guillotine chokes from Poirier. Alvarez scrambled to his back, locked in a neck crank and transitioned to a seated mount at the base of the cage. A 12-to-6 elbow to the shoulder cost Alvarez his dominant position and necessitated a warning from referee Marc Goddard. After the restart, Poirier unleashed his ordnance. He followed a straight left with a thudding knee to the chest that sent Alvarez careening backward. Poirier pushed the former UFC and Bellator MMA champion to the fence and cut loose with knees, punches and kicks before a final well-placed elbow strike to the head sent his counterpart to the canvas and forced Goddard’s hand.

4. Max Effort

Poirier laid claim to the interim lightweight title with a stellar, career-defining performance, as he took a unanimous decision from Max Holloway in the UFC 236 headliner on April 13, 2019 at State Farm Arena in Atlanta. All three cageside judges scored it the same: 49-46 for Poirier, who has defeated the Hawaiian in both of their meetings, having submitted him with a triangle armbar in 2012. Sharp boxing and a noticeable advantage in punching power buoyed Poirier’s efforts in the rematch. The Lafayette, Louisiana, native set the tone with a dominant first round, where he buckled Holloway’s knees with hooks from both hands. A lesser fighter may not have survived. However, the indomitable Holloway endured, zeroed in on the American Top Team star’s body and pushed the pedal to the floor. He pieced together one of his patented punching bursts in the third round, mixed in a brutal knee to the body and countered a takedown attempt from the weary Poirier with elbows to the side of the head. Not to be outshined, Poirier opened a gruesome gash between the featherweight champion’s eyes in the fourth round, sent split flying with an overhand left in the fifth and pinned Holloway to the fence in the waning moments, denying his bid for a comeback.

5. A Mountain Too High

Khabib Nurmagomedov unified the lightweight crown, as he submitted Poirier with a rear-naked choke in the third round of their UFC 242 main event on Sept. 7, 2019 at The Arena on Yas Island in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. Poirier, who entered the Octagon in possession of the interim lightweight championship, raised the white flag 2:06 into Round 3. Nurmagomedov bullied the Louisianan into the cage, executed takedowns and overwhelmed him with positional control and ground-and-pound. Poirier clipped the champion with a right hand in the second round and pursued him with punches, only to find himself pinned to the mat once more. Perhaps sensing the situation was deteriorating, “The Diamond” threw all of his effort behind a guillotine in Round 3. Nurmagomedov remained calm, freed himself and transitioned to the back, cinching the choke after Poirier made the mistake of lifting his chin ever so slightly.
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