After years of climbing the UFC ranks, Dustin Poirier can now finally call himself champion.
Outpointing Max Holloway at UFC 236, Poirier became the Interim Lightweight titleholder and while a unification bout awaits, that result has changed ‘The Diamond’s life already. “It’s still the same, except a lot of people are pulling me in a lot of different ways, asking for me to go places and doing a lot of stuff,” Poirier told MMA Junkie Radio. “I’m a wanted man. I just have to stay dialed in and stay grounded, really.
“That’s the biggest thing I can feel a difference from before, is everybody wants me to go places and bring the belt. And I appreciate it. I know it’s all love, but at the same time I have to be who I am, as well. I can’t just be out there all the time.”
Either way, that aforementioned unification fight awaits and as a result, Poirier’s fighting focus remains firmly on Khabib Nurmagomedov. “I can beat anybody in the world. Khabib’s skin is going up next,” Poirier predicted. “I can beat anybody in the world. I just need to put the work in and show up in the moment, ready to perform, and I can beat anybody.”
Nurmagomedov’s brilliance isn’t lost on Poirier though, “it’s prestigious to be the first person to give Khabib that L. Me being the interim champ, it’s a piece of the world title. I understand that. We have to unify the belts.” Khabib’s undefeated record now stands at 27-0, most recently submitting Conor McGregor in a memorable super-fight last year.
However, the famed post-fight antics that night stalled his title reign, leaving him suspended by the Nevada Athletic Commission until July 6th. Fortunately, the penciled in date for a fight with Poirier is September 7th, UFC 242 in Abu Dhabi. “Everything’s pointing to it happening in Abu Dhabi on Sept. 7, me and Khabib,” Poirier confirmed, admitting that he’s “not sure what the holdup is” as well though.
Even still, the seemingly inevitable event only excites Poirier. “That’s a big challenge to go over there. Probably one of the biggest Muslim stars, sports stars for sure,” Poirier said. “To go into enemy territory and fight their guy is going to be a huge challenge. But that’s what you sign up for. He’s the champ. I can’t say anything about it. I’ve got a long climb to go over there and pull off the upset.”