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Dustin
Poirier
has undergone a metamorphosis since he linked arms with
the
Ultimate Fighting Championship
on New Year’s Day in 2011,
having transformed from prospect to action hero to perennial
contender.

Believed to be at the peak of his powers, Poirier sports a 25-6
record with 19 finishes, and in terms of sheer entertainment value,
few have delivered bang for buck with more consistency. The
31-year-old
American Top Team
thoroughbred last appeared at UFC 242 in
September, when he submitted to a third-round rear-naked choke from
the unbeaten Khabib
Nurmagomedov
and failed in his bid to capture the undisputed
lightweight championship. The setback—Poirier’s first in nearly
three years—closed the book on a four-fight winning streak for the
Lafayette, Louisiana, native and moved him backward in the
155-pound queue.

As Poirier prepares to face the surging Dan Hooker on
May 16, here are some of the rivalries that have helped mold him
into one of the top lightweights on the planet:

Poirier outstruck and overpowered Holloway to a unanimous
decision. (Photo: Getty)



Poirier scaled the mountain one rock at a time in a decade-long
struggle to reach the top. The American Top Team export outstruck
and overpowered Holloway to a unanimous decision, as he laid claim
to the interim lightweight title in the UFC 236 main event on April
13, 2019 at State Farm Arena in Atlanta. Poirier curried favor from
all three judges, drawing 49-46 marks on their scorecards.
Holloway, the reigning UFC featherweight champion, was met with
immediate resistance. Poirier connected with surprising regularity
and force, wobbling the Hawaiian more than once in a dominant,
tone-setting first round. Holloway answered in spurts but could not
match the Lafayette, Louisiana, native shot for shot in terms of
firepower. Poirier outpaced his counterpart in the first, second
and fifth rounds, withstood a ferocious assault on his body and
exacted a serious toll in their standup exchanges. “The Diamond”
landed virtually all blows of consequence, butchered Holloway’s
face—a fourth-round knee strike resulted in an enormous vertical
gash between the Hawaiian’s eyes—and drove value in his stock to an
all-time high. Poirier has won both of his head-to-head meetings
with Holloway, having submitted the Gracie Technics rep with a
triangle armbar back in 2012.

Years later, Poirier openly seeks a rematch with “Mystic Mac.”
(Photo: Getty)



The eventual two-division Ultimate Fighting Championship
titleholder 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
Louisianan 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. Hammerfists and
jackhammer lefts from McGregor forced referee Herb Dean to
intervene, the buzz around the blossoming Irish superstar
continuing to build. Five-plus years later, Poirier openly seeks a
rematch with “Mystic Mac.”

Poirier and Gaethje left pieces of themselves strewn across the
Octagon. (Photo: Getty)



It felt like Poirier and Gaethje left pieces of themselves strewn
across the Octagon. No one expected anything less. Poirier made a
significant move in the lightweight division, as he put away the
former
World Series of Fighting
champion with punches in the fourth
round of their UFC on Fox 29 headliner on April 14, 2018 at the
Gila River Arena in Glendale, Arizona. Gaethje succumbed to blows
33 seconds into Round 4. It was a beautifully brutal encounter.
Gaethje targeted the inside of the American Top Team standout’s
lead leg with repeated kicks and zeroed in on his head with the
thudding power punches. Poirier returned fire, withstood his
counterpart’s breakneck pace and capitalized when the opportunity
to finish presented itself. The statistical data they generated was
startling: Poirier and Gaethje combined to land 295 total strikes,
289 of them significant.


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