MCGRATH: How Dustin Poirier will upset Max Holloway at UFC 236

By David McGrath, MMATORCH contributor

Dustin Poirier (photo credit Jake Roth © USA Today Sports)

Perhaps nobody in MMA is hotter than Max Holloway right now. The Hawaiian reigning, defending featherweight champion has won 13 (Thirteen!) Fights in a row. Nobody has more mojo than Dustin Poirier. The Cajun born lightweight has won 6 of 7 and seems to be destined to wear UFC gold. It is the proverbial unstoppable force versus immovable object fight that comes around every now and again if you’re lucky. This fight is almost guaranteed to impress. If styles make fights, this fight is made. This is the first fight in a long time I plan to just sit back, become a fan again and enjoy it.  It is such a hard fight to pick, but I think I have a roadmap for both fighters to victory.

I think this fight comes down to chins. One prevailing theme when you study the tape of both fighters, is they get hit. Let’s just take a look at Poirier’s last few fights. A banger against Justin Gaethje that came down to who’s lights went dim first. Ultimately, Gaethje dimmed first and Poirier exercised his warrior spirit hard in that fight. That bodes well for Poirier in this fight. One thing is for sure, Max is going to hit him, early and often. My initial thoughts were Poirier needed to take Max down and ugly the fight up, I have since switched gears. I just think Holloway’s takedown defense is too good, I think Holloway is too smooth in his transitions and he is stronger than his frame would suggest. I am not saying Poirier should abandon it completely. That would be foolish. I think it is advantageous to Poirier to mix in a few early takedown attempts to get Holloway off his spot.

Getting Holloway off his spot is step one of the gameplan. Much like Israel Adesanya, the featherweight king is a volume puncher, and when he is allowed to plant his feet bad things happen. I don’t foresee Poirier just standing in the pocket and hoping he can survive a War as he did with Gaethje. As long as Holloway is thinking about the takedown Poirier has done his job, Holloway fighting off his backfoot looking to defend is a major win for the Louisana native.

Holloway is such a master of crossing over the distance and landing shots. My suggestion for Poirier would be to let Holloway be first. Let Holloway hit first and begin the engagement, and counter him. Just look at what happens when fighters pressure Max Holloway and let the master of distance use his head movement and land a 5 punch combo and then be gone when you try to retaliate. Poirier should wait back and let Max try and come to him and land damage when possible, all the while looking for takedowns.



It’s better to bet on Enron then it is to bet against Max Holloway in 2019, but I am going to do it. I feel like Poirier, who by the way was not even supposed to be in this fight, and is one Tony Ferguson meltdown away from watching from the seats, is on a mission. Poirier is just so tough, his tape shows that.  That is no slight on Holloway, he is virtuous, he is incredible and the best boxer maybe in all of MMA. One prediction I am sure on is this is going to be an absolute barn burner that will not disappoint. I think Poirier does enough with his hands, takes the beating well enough and eeks this thing out, and completes his mission for Gold. Strap your seatbelts on, these are two of the toughest fighters in all of MMA, with a whole lot on the line in the dirty south.

Winner: Dustin Poirier by split-decision

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