Poirier ready for historic UFC on FOX opportunity
Down in Louisiana, folks aren’t thinking about much outside of LSU football these days.
This is a normal occurrence, of course, with a perennial national championship contending football team and one of the more rabid fan bases in any sport, college or not. The nice people of Baton Rouge are hoping this year ends like 1958 or 2003 or even 2007, when Les Miles led the Bayou Bengals to a BCS title. Miles is currently angling the Tigers towards yet another trophy, and last Saturday’s 9-6 defeat of rival SEC powerhouse Alabama, while not the prettiest thing to look at, was enough to send the entire state into a frenzy.
Dustin Poirier feels none of this.
The UFC featherweight will admit that he’s a long-time fan of the New Orleans Saints and spends Sunday afternoons cheering on the team. But college football just isn’t his gig, and Poirier has too much on his mind to get wrapped up in the purple and gold at the moment, anyway. He’s got a fight coming up, and forty-five minutes away from the LSU campus, in a sleepy town called Lafayette, Poirier goes about the business of preparing to face Pablo Garza at UFC on Fox this weekend.
Poirier will be stepping in the cage for the first time since June’s UFC 131, when he faced British striker Jason Young. Poirier was hoping to capitalize on a January upset of former top featherweight contender Josh Grispi, but things didn’t go as planned. When Poirier landed in Las Vegas on the Tuesday before the fight, he was 163 pounds, and the weight just wouldn’t come off. He’d had zero problems against Grispi in his first featherweight cut – a strange occurrence when you consider that he started that particular cut at 174 pounds – but this time around was different, and it affected him in the cage.
“I was off. I don’t know what it was. I’m not blaming it on the weight cut, but I had a really horrible weight cut. I felt like I was going to die,” Poirier says. “Sometimes you have those nights. That’s not taking away from Jason, because he’s an excellent kick boxer.”
The fight, simply put, was a dud, and Poirier is eager to show fans around the world that he’s capable of putting on a thrilling fight. As for the weight cut, well, he’s confident he’ll have no issues this time around. In fact, he currently weighs 158 pounds, a full five pounds than he did for the Young fight.
“It will make a huge difference. I feel better. I re-did my diet and I’m not cutting any corners,” he says. “I’m not cutting any corners this time around. It’s not that I slacked before, but I’m just tightening everything up. I’m just learning my body.”
Garza represents a nearly perfect opponent for Poirier. Garza has turned his career around since dropping to featherweight and joining the UFC after the merger with World Extreme Cagefighting in January, and his flying triangle win over Yves Jabouin at UFC 129 put him on the map at featherweight. It was a moment of sweet redemption for Garza, who tried and failed to get into the UFC via The Ultimate Fighter. With two dynamic finishes in two UFC appearances, Garza is earning a name for himself as an exciting fighter, and Poirier believes we’ll see fireworks on Saturday night.
“Somebody has to want it more. Somebody has to be the better fighter. He’s a fun fighter and I am too, I think,” Poirier says. “So it’s going to be a crazy fight. I’m going to try and finish him and he’s going to try to do the same. I think it’s a good matchmaking call by Sean Shelby to put two guys like that together.
“It all comes down to who wants it more. I’m very confident in my skills and I do believe I am a better fighter than he is.”