The infamous “interim” title fights have been given out more than most fight fans would like. However, this time an interim title fight is undoubtedly justified. A division that is an embarrassment of riches and as stacked as the lightweight division will crown an interim champ this Saturday, April 13, 2019. With current champ, Khabib Nurmagomedov not expected to fight until September the division looked like it may be tied up for a while but this time the MMA Gods didn’t want to penalize us – instead they “blessed” us. This Saturday in Atlanta, Georgia featherweight champ Max “Blessed” Holloway (20-3) will move up to Lightweight and face Dustin “The Diamond” Poirier (24-5) for the interim 155 lb. Championship.
A post shared by Max Holloway (@blessedmma) on Apr 12, 2019 at 2:58pm PDT
Years ago, a 20 year old Max Holloway met a young up and coming 23 year old by the name of Dustin Poirier. Neither of them at the time knew what the future held and although it was a possibility they never thought they would possibly meet at lightweight with a belt on the line years later. On that night Poirier got the better of Holloway by submitting him. However, it’s Holloway’s career that has reached the pinnacle since then. That’s not to cast a cloud on “The Diamond” but rather to give Max Holloway his due diligence. Their career pathway looks like a fork in the road, Holloway stayed at featherweight and has been on a 13 fight-winning streak. Two title fight victories over Jose Aldo and his most recent title defense against Brian Ortega highlighted the winning streak. – A winning streak that has many believing he is the featherweight GOAT.
A post shared by Dustin Poirier (@dustinpoirier) on Apr 11, 2019 at 9:55am PDT
As for Poirier, he’s always been a constant in the top 10 UFC rankings regardless of division but it wasn’t until he made a move out of the featherweight division and moved up to lightweight in 2015 that his career and notoriety amongst mainstream fans began to gain traction. Poirier is 8-1-1 at lightweight and his lone loss was back in 2016 to Michael Johnson. Of the 8 wins, 7 of those are by TKO/KO against the likes of Anthony Pettis, Eddie Alvarez and Justin Gaethje. A title shot has been way past due but like his twitter bio reads, Poirier is “not afraid to take the road less traveled”. Fortunately for The Diamond, that road has finally come to an intersection with a former foe and on the other side of him is what he’s worked for. That “over-due” title shot is finally upon us all.
A post shared by Dustin Poirier (@dustinpoirier) on Mar 14, 2019 at 9:01am PDT
This is a battle that doesn’t have much disrespect or trash talk, instead its two of MMA’s best with a huge amount of respect for one another. They are no longer in their early 20’s trying to figure themselves and their skills out. They believe over the years they have perfected their crafts. Max has already reached the top of the mountain once in his respective division. While Poirier feels that he’s done it the old-school way, knowing that everything regardless of in the octagon or outside of it, was earned.
A post shared by Max Holloway (@blessedmma) on Mar 26, 2019 at 3:39pm PDT
When both men make the walk to the octagon, whoever walks out the winner will have enhanced their legacy and regardless of what is said about “interim” champs, this one just seems different. For Max Holloway, its about putting his stamp on the game and bringing new meaning to the “blessed era”. For Dustin Poirier, it’s about proving to everyone on the outside looking in that he is the best – that he’s been counted out more times than none, but somehow finds a way to shine regardless of the pressure. Whom ever walks away with the belt tonight should feel like the champ, because it is different and with this being a potential fight of the year and/or fight of the night candidate, the crowning of a champ will be justified.
Be sure to catch all the action live on ESPN+ tonight.