- UFC 236 is headlined by an interim lightweight-title fight between Max Holloway and Dustin Poirier
- Holloway, the featherweight title holder, can become a two-class champ
- Will “Blessed” avenge a 2012 loss to Dustin “The Diamond” Poirier?
The UFC’s lightweight champion, Khabib Nurmagomedov, is out of commission due to suspension. With the Eagle sidelined, Dana White has scheduled an interim lightweight-title fight for UFC 236 (Sat. April 13th) at State Farm Arena in Atlanta, GA.
Featherweight-title holder Max Holloway will aim to become a two-class champ in a matchup with Dustin Poirier, which is actually a rematch of a 2012 fight.
Holloway vs Poirier Preview
Max Holloway (20-3, 10 knockout) has emerged as one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the UFC in the last few years. He hasn’t lost since a unanimous decision setback to Conor McGregor in mid-2013, winning 13 straight fights.
He only seems to be getting better, too, winning his last four by stoppage against elite competition (Brian Ortega, Anthony Pettis, and Jose Aldo twice). While he’s fought at featherweight since 2012, he’s extremely tall for the division (5’11) and should be a natural fit at 155.
He brings one of the best striking repertoires in the business to UFC 236.
Dustin Poirier (24-5, 12 KO), on the other hand, is more of a jack-of-all-trades. He’s won his share of fights standing up and on the ground.
One of his submissions was a 2012 win over Holloway, when he took down a then-20-year-old Holloway, proceeded to gain mount and strap on an armbar.
Poirier has been fighting at lightweight since 2015, going 8-1-1 since moving up. He hasn’t lost since a 2016 KO at the heavy hands of Michael Johnson.
In the build up to the interim-title fight, the odds have been moving in Poirier’s favor.
When the first was first announced, Holloway was close to -300 on the moneyline, while Poirier’s odds were longer than +200 at all betting sites.
Holloway vs Poirier Betting Odds Comparison
|Fighter||Odds at Bovada||Odds at BetOnline||Odds at MyBookie|
As you can see from the table above, Poirier is now shorter than +200 across the board.
The movement in Poirier’s favor is likely a reaction to the fact that the Lafayette native won the first matchup in under four minutes.
But looking deeper at both that fight and the career histories of these two fighters, it’s clear that Holloway deserves to be a sizable favorite.
The first matchup took place seven years ago. Holloway was an unseasoned youngster with just four fights under his belt. He had also taken the fight on short notice. Poirier was almost in his prime at the time; he was 23 years old with an 11-1 record.
Yet, even in that first matchup, Holloway took the fight to Poirier for the first couple minutes. The fight video above shows that Holloway’s striking was at a higher level seven years ago, and it has entered the stratosphere since then.
Poirier is a good striker, but not a great one. He’s been KOed by both Johnson and McGregor.
Holloway doesn’t have the one-punch power of those two, but he’s more accurate and faster than both. According to UFCStats.com, he’s landed 6.90 significant strikes per minute for his career.
In 20 brutalizing minutes against Ortega, he landed 290. That’s 14.5 significant strikes every 60 seconds.
The common trend among Poirier’s losses is that he’s been outboxed and outkicked by his opponents, from Danny Castillo back in 2010, to Chan Sung Jung in 2012, to Johnson in 2016.
He’s going to be outstruck by Holloway. That’s a virtual certainty. The big difference this time around is that Holloway is now considerably more experienced in the other facets of MMA. His takedown defense, in particular, has become one of the strongest parts of his game.
The featherweight champion stuffs about 5 out of every 6 takedown attempts that his opponents try. Ortega, who was desperate to get the fight on the ground, was 2 for 11 on his shots.
Prior the Ortega fight, Holloway hadn’t been taken down a single time since his fight with Clay Collard in Aug. 2014, a run of nine straight fights.
If Poirier doesn’t get this fight to the mat and keep it there, his path to victory becomes extremely arduous. His chances of putting Holloway down and controlling him are slim. At -225, the almost indomitable Holloway is the better value.