Dustin Poirier has established himself as one of the biggest draws in the UFC lightweight division, with his outstanding skills and fan-friendly style inside the Octagon. After a hard-fought decision victory over Dan Hooker at UFC Vegas 4, ‘The Diamond’ looks to have placed his career back on track for another run at the title.
Poirier, who has suffered several setbacks as a fighter, recently labeled his bout against Conor McGregor as a pivotal moment in his MMA career. The Louisiana representative admits that from then on, he began a journey of self-improvement in both personal and athletic matters.
‘The Diamond’ spoke to ESPN‘s Ariel Helwani (as transcribed by MMA Fighting) about his growth since the McGregor fight.
“It definitely started happening after the Conor McGregor loss,” Poirier stated. “That was the start of it. It’s been a long process, being a father, losing again, winning some and losing again, and winning another one. It’s just a long evolution of stop caring so much. You just stop caring about the noise and stuff that doesn’t matter. . .
“A lot of times in my younger career, I felt like it was life or death. Every comment on Instagram and Twitter, every journalist who said something, I felt like everybody was against me. I felt like if I lost I would be written off, it’s the end of my career. I’m a bum if I lose this fight. And then you lose a few times and you’re like, ‘Oh s***, I can still put this back together. Oh man, I’m still providing for my family. I’m still loving what I do.’ It’s like you’ve been bent but not broken a lot of times and I feel like it made me stronger and it made me the man I am today. I’m happy. I’m genuinely happy.”
Poirier also discussed his upcoming plans following his back and forth battle this past weekend. Despite having title aspirations on his mind, the Lafayette born martial artist is now focusing on spending some well earned time with his family.
“I’m gonna take some time for sure to let my body heal,” Poirier said. “Next week I’m taking my family on a small vacation, just right here to Florida, nothing crazy. Just get some sun, get some beach time, and just relax. Let my mind relax, and we’ll see. I’m definitely not gonna fight back far. I think they just moved me up in the rankings now. Of course, I want to be the undisputed world champion but we’ll see when the UFC calls me, we’ll see what happens. Money talks.”
After making his title intentions clear, Poirier recognised the danger the sport implies; he states that avoiding long-term damage is a major priority. The former interim champion is focusing on keeping his mental faculties as healthy as possible.
Poirier is aware of the potential costs that fighting has on his body, especially the bouts like his last contest against Hooker. With that in mind, the ATT representative is looking to take care of his health for the sake of his family and loved ones.
“Like we were saying, I don’t know how many fights I have left,” Poirier said. “I still feel young, I still feel great, fresh, and I love what I do, but I do not want to continue for another five years, fighting fights like I just fought, because I don’t want to love this so much that it kills me. I use that word lightly. Not that I’m gonna die in there, I mean that it’s gonna take something that I can’t get back. Not only from me but for the ones that I love. I want to be there for my daughter forever. I want to be there for my wife. I don’t want to start fading away, mentally or anything like that. And I just know that’s a reality in what we do, in combat sports. I don’t beat around the bush, I know that’s a possibility and I know that what I’m doing isn’t good for myself.”
Nonetheless, Poirier’s title aspirations are not over just yet. ‘The Diamond’ seems more confident in his skills than ever before. The lightweight contender assures fans that he has the ability to beat all the top fighters in his division, including current champion Khabib Nurmagomedov against who he lost at UFC 242 in a title fight.
“I feel like I’m the best in the world,” Poirier said. “I made mistakes and I got beaten by Khabib, but I know that I can beat Khabib Nurmagomedov. I know I can. I can beat anyone of these guys. . . I don’t want to get anyone back. I’m not in the grudge match business. I want to be the best in the world. I want to be the undisputed world champion.”
After his newest statements about McGregor — who recently retired from the sport — many fans are calling for a rematch between the former featherweights. Although no talks of this fight have been reported, the mere speculation of it raises curiosity with the MMA community. It would be an electric fight, to say the least.
On hearing Poirier’s comments, McGregor took to social media to show the mutual respect between the two.
Poirier’s loss to McGregor came almost six years ago at UFC 178, via a first round TKO. Since then, Dustin has lost only twice in thirteen fights.
The 31 year old Poirier has proven to be a talented athlete with grit and determination inside the Octagon and a class act outside of fighting. Every time ‘The Diamond’ steps in the stoplight is a treat for fans around the world. Regardless of who he crosses paths with inside the cage, his fights are sure to be extraordinary events.
Would you like to see Dustin Poirier rematch Conor McGregor next?