UFC Featherweight Dustin Poirier (12-2, MMA) is a contender on the rise in one of the UFC’s most interesting divisions as of late. He was close to putting himself in the mix at the top of the division until losing to “The Korean Zombie” Chan Sung Jung in his last fight. As expected from a fighter with Dustin’s tenacity, he’s ready to rebound and make a statement against Jonathan Brookins (13-5, MMA).
Poirier will face Brookins, The Ultimate Fighter season 12 winner, at The Ultimate Fighter’s season 16 finale at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas on December 15.
“I’m feeling great. I’m super pumped up for this fight. I can’t wait, I wish it was this weekend,” Poirier said.
Since his last fight, he’s moved on from training with Tim Credeur in his native Louisiana to train with American Top Team in Florida. The switch of training camps has been just what “The Diamond” needed to rise to his next challenge.
“Before my last fight with Chan Sung Jung we we’re talking about switching camps, and we just, I was talking to Tim Credeur, my head trainer over in Louisiana, and we were talking about me making the change somewhere and we just didn’t do it,” Dustin explained. “We decided to stick out the training camp. After that fight I just felt like it was the right thing to do. Before the fight, it was the right thing to do, but it was just, it happened that way.”
Recently featured in Fightville on Showtime, a documentary based on a regional fight circuit in Louisiana, Poirier’s humble beginnings were detailed in the film. Part of the documentary featured Credeur training Poirier and everything shown was “the real deal” according to Poirier.
Despite having grown as a fighter training with Credeur, Poirier said there’s no bad blood between them since the move. Though he won’t be cornering him this time around, Credeur is still coming to Las Vegas to support Dustin. Knowing he needs a win to put his name back at the top of the division, Poirier said defeating Brookins will be no easy feat.
“He’s a tough guy, he’s been around awhile, decent wrestler. He’s fought some tough guys, he’s fought Jose Aldo. He’s a grinder he knows how to wear guys down and make the fight in his favor. I’m expecting a good fight. I’m expecting him to walk forward and put me against the fence and I’m going to do what I do.”
Brookins will have to beware of Dustin’s finishing power, since Poirier has 5 KO’s and 5 submissions already on his professional MMA record and has only suffered defeat twice in his budding career. His first loss was to Danny Castillo in the WEC via unanimous decision. The second defeat was at the hands Jung at UFC on FUEL TV 2 where Poirier was forced to tap out once “The Korean Zombie” sunk in a D’arce choke.
While Poirier may be his own harshest critic of that performance, he also said he’s grown from the loss and now knows what he needs to adjust for future fights.
“I need to stick to the gameplan and go after people when I have them hurt. I learned a lot of things, probably too many to even list. That was a great fight for my career. I feel like I’m only going to grow from it. It sucks to have a loss on my record that I’m going to have forever, but I’m trying to take the positive out of it and I learned a lot.”
At only 23-years-old, Poirier will have plenty of time and more opportunities to shine in the Octagon. Though he believes if he’d defeated Jung, he may have had a shot at current featherweight champion Jose Aldo, Poirier isn’t dwelling on what could have happened. Instead he’s looking ahead to what can happen.
“Everything happens for a reason and I’m definitely going to be there fighting for the title one day, but right now its one fight at time,” said Poirier.
Injuries have affected more than a handful of fights this year. At UFC 143 in February, Poirier was originally supposed to fight Erik Koch. Koch had to drop out due to injury and then Ricardo Lamas was linked to the fight. Then, Lamas withdrew due to injury and Poirier ended up fighting Max Holloway on two weeks notice. Though Koch and Poirier haven’t crossed paths yet, Poirier’s certain they’ll find themselves scrapping sometime in the future.
“He’s young and I’m young, we’re going to fight at some point, there’s no doubt in my mind. But, I don’t hold grudges or anything like that, he got hurt or whatever happened. I was supposed to fight [Koch], then I was supposed to fight Ricardo Lamas and then I fought Max Holloway. Those are two guys I’ll probably still end up fighting,” Poirier said of other contenders he’ll likely face.
So far this year, Poirier’s said he’s been lucky to avoid ever being too hurt to fight. He attributes that to training smart and eating healthy. While he can’t put a finger on the reasons why other guys get injured, he knows that in the UFC losing out on any opportunity can be a detriment at this level.
“This is a busy sport man. Things change overnight. Things change with the snap of the fingers. Nothing’s for sure in this sport until you’re in there and the cage is locked really. You win one fight, you’re fighting for the title if you finish a guy with a big name. If you lose one, you’re back at the bottom of the list. You lose two, you’re out. This is a crazy sport man, you just have to stay on top of your game.”
With Aldo preparing to take on former lightweight champion Frankie Edgar next, Dustin thinks that Edgar brings the right formula to the table to give Aldo his toughest test to date.
“I think you need to stay in his face. Actually, I think Frankie Edgar can be the man to do it. His boxing’s good enough to stay in his face and his wrestling’s good enough to put him on his back. I think Chad Mendes’ wrestling was good enough to do, but his hands weren’t good enough to set up the wrestling and finish the shots and stuff. With Frankie Edgar’s skills I think he really might have the key to that.”
The Ultimate Fighter 16 season finale will take place on Dec 15 at the Joint in the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino. It will air on FX at 9pm ET/6pm PT and will be headlined by a heavyweight bout between Roy Nelson and Matt Mitrione.