Dustin Poirier is just one fight away from a lightweight title shot against the champion Khabib Nurmagomedov if he can get through arguably the biggest challenge of his career so far in the form of Max Holloway, who will meet him in the main event this Saturday night at UFC 236 for the interim 155-pound belt.
The No. 3-ranked Poirier is an eight-year veteran under the UFC banner and has been on a tear since his move back up to lightweight division, in particular in his last three fights, where he’s finished the likes of Eddie Alvarez, Justin Gaethje and Anthony Pettis.
Poirier’s head coach, Mike Thomas Brown, told MMA Junkie ahead of the bout against Holloway that his fighter is at the peak of his powers and the time is right for a title shot.
“I think it’s the perfect time,” Brown said. “I’m glad it took this long. Maybe he could’ve won the belt a year or two ago, but I’m really glad he’s had this time to mature and really come into his own. He’s found his game, found his own. He’s had a great career, some amazing fights, but every time he’s lost he’s made the right corrections. He’s gone back and analyzed it and come back much, much stronger. Now he’s without a doubt at his absolute prime. He’s a monster.”
Brown says Poirier won’t try to put Holloway on his back during the fight and is willing to fight fire with fire on the feet while maintaining the pressure for the allotted 25 minutes.
“Everybody who has beat Max has put him on the floor at least once,” Brown said. “That probably wouldn’t be a bad idea. But Dustin’s game is to come forward and to crack you. He hits hard with both hands, and it doesn’t go away. He can hit just as hard in the fifth as he can in the first.
“We’ve always known that he was going to be a monster in five-rounders. We couldn’t wait for him to start getting main events and five rounders. That’s where he’s really going to excel, and it’s showing.”
If “The Diamond” were to get his hand raised it will be because of his pressure game which Brown believes will be too much for Holloway to handle once the cage door shuts.
“I think he beats him with pressure,” he said. “I think he beats him with superior punching power and pressure. … He hits hard with both hands, kicks hard with both legs, his gas tank is as good as it gets, and he knows how to use it. He can pressure anybody and take anybody out.”