Reflect on the career of Dustin Poirier ahead of his UFC 257 rematch against Conor McGregor.
When Dustin Poirier meets Conor McGregor in the center of the Octagon at UFC 257 it will be a rematch over six years in the making. Although it’s not another shot at the lightweight title, a bout with McGregor is the next best thing for a competitor like Poirier.
Most professional athletes have tasted defeat, but there is something about combat sports that makes the victories that much sweeter, and the losses that much more painful. Poirier’s career is full of trials and tribulations, but at the end of the day he always got back in the saddle and put it all on the line every time he stepped under those bright lights.
Take a look back at Poirier’s mixed martial arts career from the very beginning.
A look back at the career of Dustin Poirier before UFC 257
Success on the local scene (2009 – 2010)
Poirier quickly made a name for himself in his native Louisiana, compiling a 7-0 record in just thirteen months. Poirier fought on average one bout every two months, and did so with authority, winning four bouts via knockout and three by way of submission. In his seventh professional fight Poirier would travel to Quebec, Canada where he would beat Derek Gauthier in a mere 57 seconds.
Stint in the WEC (2010 – 2011)
“The Diamond” went on to get signed by World Extreme Cagefighting (WEC), but only got to compete twice under their banner as they merged with the UFC soon thereafter. Poirier would go on to suffer his first loss as a pro against Danny Castillo, a bout which also marked the first time Poirier had gone to a decision. He bounced back three months later with a unanimous decision victory over Zach Micklewright in what would be his final fight in the WEC.
Featherweight run in the UFC (2011 – 2014)
Following the merger, Poirier would move down to 145 pounds. Meanwhile, Jose Aldo, the newly-crowned UFC featherweight champion was set to make his first title defense against Josh Grispi at UFC 125, but an injury forced Aldo off the card. In stepped Poirier, who went on to defeat Grispi via unanimous decision. Following his successful UFC debut, Poirier would rattle off three more wins, most notably submitting future 145-pound champion Max Holloway.
Poirier’s next bout came against Chan Sung Jung AKA “The Korean Zombie” in what was a featherweight title eliminator. After a back and forth technical brawl, Jung was able to submit Poirier in round 4 via D’arce choke. Following the loss, Poirier got back on the horse and went a solid 4-1 in his next five bouts.
Poirier vs. McGregor 1 (Sept. 27, 2014)
With Poirier vs. McGregor 2 set to take place very soon, it is important to understand what happened the first time these two men faced off in the Octagon. The two seriously disliked one another at the time and were at each other’s throats any time they faced off during fight week. The tension was visible, but thankfully nothing ever occurred outside of the cage. McGregor’s trash talk was at another level at this point, and by Poirier’s own admission, it got into his head. McGregor went on to KO an agitated Poirier not even two minutes into the contest, a win that would set up McGregor for a title eliminator of sorts and a main event slot against Dennis Siver in 2015. And as we know with McGregor, the rest is history.
Transition to lightweight (2015 -2016)
After three knockout losses at featherweight, Poirier decided to make the change and move up ten pounds to the lightweight division. Poirier had always looked fairly gaunt when making 145 pounds, and with his body still continuing to grow, the decision was inevitable.
Poirier would go on to win his first four fights at lightweight, defeating the likes of Diego Ferreira, Bobby Green, Yancy Medeiros and Joseph Duffy. After winning all four bouts via KO/TKO, it was clear that his power translated over well to 155 pounds. But alas, another roadblock on his road to title contention. Ranked No. 7 at the time, Poirier would meet No. 10 lightweight contender Michael Johnson in the main event of UFC Hidalgo in September of 2016. Johnson, a sizable underdog, went on to knock Poirier out in less than two minutes.
Career resurgence (2017 – 2019)
After the devastating knockout loss to Johnson, most wondered if Poirier would ever get over the hump and compete for a UFC title. Each time Poirier got close to the top of the mountain, he’d fall back down to the bottom. This time however, he dusted himself off and went on a 6-fight undefeated streak, with huge wins over fighters like Eddie Alvarez, Anthony Pettis, Justin Gaethje and Max Holloway. All four of those fighters held some form of UFC gold either before or after their respective meetings with Poirier.
Poirier’s time had finally come. He defeated Max Holloway for a second time at UFC 236, this time at 155 pounds, to become the UFC interim lightweight champion. Paid in full.
Unification bout with Khabib Nurmagomedov (Sept. 7, 2019)
Like any other interim title, it must be unified with the current champion’s, which meant Poirier was next tasked with fighting one of the best fighters of all-time in Khabib Nurmagomedov. The fight took place in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, which was essentially made it a hometown fight for Nurmagomedov. Poirier held his own, but was exhausted by the start of round three after defending numerous grappling situations. Poirier sunk in a very tight guillotine choke early in the round, however, Nurmagomedov would eventually slip out, take his back, and submit him via rear-naked choke.
In his most recent bout, Poirier lined up opposite Dan Hooker. Hooker came into the fight riding a three-fight winning streak that included a main event win over Paul Felder via split-decision. However, Poirier was able to stop Hooker in his tracks, outlasting and outworking the New Zealander via unanimous decision over five rounds. Many media outlets handed out their award for “best round of the year” to these gentlemen for their second-round slugfest that was as entertaining as it was violent.