This Saturday, Dustin Poirier will make his 16th UFC appearance when he takes on fellow top-ranked lightweight Michael Johnson in Hidalgo, Texas. Poirier had an outstanding record at featherweight as a finisher and an action fighter until he was knocked out by Conor McGregor. Following the loss, he returned to lightweight where he has four straight wins and is well on his way to being a top contender. Here are his top UFC moments at lightweight and featherweight.
5. Poirier vs. Josh Grispi (UFC 125)
Josh Grispi was 4-0 in his WEC run and was tapped to fight featherweight champion Jose Aldo at UFC 125. When Aldo withdrew from the fight due to injury, Poirier was tapped as a late notice opponent. Poirier was making his featherweight debut and Grispi was tapped as a heavy favorite. When the fight began, it was clear that Grispi was in over his head. Poirier was the superior striker, punishing Grispi with well-timed flurries and combos, nearly finishing him multiple times. Grispi was able to lock in several tight submissions when the fight hit the ground but the assault from Poirier left him too tired to commit fully. Poirier won all three rounds against Grispi decisively and was given the unanimous decision. The win would mark Poirier as a future contender in the UFC’s new weight class.
4. Poirier vs. Carlos Diego Ferreira (UFC Fight Night 63)
Following his loss to Conor McGregor at UFC 178, Poirier made the call to return to the lightweight division. He believed the weight cut was too draining and took too much away from his fight preparations. His first test at the weight class would be Ferreira, who was 11-1 in his MMA career and possessed a dangerous submission game. Both fighters would exchange heavy blows for most of the fight with Poirier having a slight edge in striking accuracy and speed. The end would come at the 3:45 mark in the first round when Poirier knocked Ferreira down with straight punches right on the chin and finishing with strikes on the ground. The victory via TKO showed that Poirier would not be outclassed upon his return to the lightweight division.
3. Poirier vs. Erik Koch (UFC 164)
Poirier had lost two out of his last three fights and needed a win badly to keep his place near the top of the featherweight division. He was matched up with fellow striker Erik Koch at UFC 164 in Milwaukee. A real battle was expected between the two young fighters and a battle is exactly what the fans got. The first round was a back and forth contest with Koch nearly submitting Poirier with a tight triangle choke and then Poirier roaring back to knock Koch down with a punch and nearly land a D’arce choke of his own. Poirier controlled the second round with precision striking and suffocating top control. In the third round, Koch took Poirier down and spent nearly the whole round in control, nearly submitting him with a rear naked choke. The decision was given to Poirier and would begin a three fight win streak for the Louisiana native.
2. Poirier vs. Chang Sung Jung (UFC on Fuel TV 3)
Poirier would win four straight fights on his entrance into the UFC, a streak that would gain him a main event spot against the Korean Zombie. Fireworks were expected between the two action fighters and they delivered in a big way. Jung would take Poirier down twice in the first round with wild striking battles in between. The second round would have Jung again attack with his wildly dangerous submission name, nearly submitting Poirier twice but Poirier showed his toughness by surviving the round. Poirier would make a return in round three when he began using the jab and straight left hand to fight Jung at distance. It would his best round as he hurt Jung multiple times throughout the round. Jung would rock Poirier early in the fourth round and eventually lock up a tight D’arce choke where he would put Poirier to sleep. The loss would serve as a major moment in Poirier’s fighting life as it prompted him to leave his small gym in Louisiana and make the move to American Top Team in Florida. Since joining ATT, Poirier’s already impressive skills have grown by leaps and bounds and turned him into one of the UFC’s most dangerous fighters.
1. Poirier vs. Joseph Duffy (UFC 195)
Poirier and Duffy were expected to headline UFC Fight Night 76 in Dublin but Poirier suffered a concussion three days prior to the event. The fight was rescheduled for UFC 195 in Las Vegas. The two would open the fight by boxing each other at range with each fighter having some success. Poirier would earn a takedown during the round and drop some heavy punishment down on Duffy for a time before Duffy was able to get back up. The remainder of the round was very evenly contested on the feet with both fighters bleeding from the nose when the round ended. After suffering a possible broken nose in the first, Poirier would adopt a new strategy for the second round. He took Duffy to the ground and controlled him, working a suffocating offense of sharp elbows and punches from the top. The round would end with Duffy bloody and tired from the sustained offense he suffered. The third round would incredibly exciting with Poirier gaining another takedown but Duffy fighting back and rolling Poirier twice before battling back on the feet. Another takedown from Poirier and Duffy would lock in a tight triangle choke just as the round ended. The fight would be called a unanimous decision with the scores not reflecting just how close and competitive the fight actually was. Both men showed how tough and dangerous they were that night and Poirier would prove that he truly belongs near the top of the lightweight division.
(Matthew Peterson is an MMATorch contributor who has been a fan of MMA since he first watched UFC 100. He currently resides with his wife in St. Cloud, Minn. He believes that Chris Lytle was God’s gift to fight fans and Cowboy Cerrone comes in at a close second. He can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @mattpete1088.)