Dustin Poirier Explains: ‘I’ve Had To Evolve’

UFC Fighter Dustin Poirier

Getty UFC fighter Dustin Poirier returns at UFC 264.

UFC star Dustin Poirier tried to tell us before UFC 257 that things would be different against Conor McGregor that time around. Poirier chatted with Heavy before his last fight back in January, and the American predicted back then he was on his way to finishing McGregor in the biggest fight of his life.

“I’m going to be victorious… . I’ll find an opening and finish the fight,” Poirier told Bleacher Report.

Maybe the “The Diamond” should be called “Predictive Poirier” now instead.  After all, he’s the one who correctly predicted how the last fight would go, while “Mystic Mac” got things all wrong.

Poirier stopped McGregor in the second round at UFC 257.

ALL the latest UFC news straight to your inbox! Subscribe to the Heavy on UFC newsletter here!

Sign up for the Heavy on UFC Newsletter!

Poirier’s Explanation: ‘I’ve Had To Evolve’

During that same pre-fight interview, Poirier explained how he would be able to get the job done.

“Over the years, I’ve had to evolve and get better as a fighter and as an athlete but also on the mental side. I don’t care what people think. I don’t care what people say. That goes for my opponent as well. I don’t care what he’s saying or what he’s thinking,” Poirier said.

It wasn’t always that way. Indeed, before their first fight back in 2014, Poirier said he absolutely did care what people thought about him.

“I think when I was a younger fighter, I just read into things too much and cared too much about what critics and everybody said. I got in over my head with caring too much about the opinions of other people. At this point in my career, I don’t really care,” Poirier said.

It seems Poirier is living by the popular saying, “Know thyself.”

“I know who I am. I know the fighter I am, the father and husband I am. I’m comfortable with who I am walking into these combat situations. I’m just more comfortable in my own skin than I was whenever we first fought,” Poirier said.

Follow the Heavy on UFC Facebook page for the latest breaking news, rumors and content!

Poirier’s New Mindset Is About Growth and Change

Poirier revealed his new mindset was one of constant growth and change. Where before he was trying to prove what he had so that others could see, today’s fighter is more about constantly assessing himself so he can make improvements.

“I’m still learning every day. I’m still learning every fight. But I’m not trying to prove anything to anyone. I think when I was younger I was trying to prove I was tough. I’ve proven that over the last six years already. So I’m not trying to be something I’m not. That’s the biggest difference,” Poirier said.

Still, Poirier knew heading into the last fight how big a stage he was about to step out onto. Poirier is a former UFC interim champ, and he’s fought a slew of notable names. But facing McGregor in the UFC’s Octagon is the grandest stage of all, and he knew it.

“This is one of the biggest fights you can have in combat sports, boxing, or MMA. A guy like Conor is one of the biggest names possible that you can be standing across from,” Poirier said.

The fighter knowing that going into things and still scoring his stunning second-round stoppage over McGregor makes things that much more impressive.

Back then, Poirier believed he was on his way to a victory at UFC 257, but he was ready for however things might play out.

“This is a 25-minute fight with two guys in their primes, two guys with a lot of experience. I see myself being the victor. I feel like I’m more well-rounded. I’m more focused than I’ve ever been, and I’m peaking right now,” Poirier said.

The American knew he would be inside the Octagon way more than McGregor had been over the last five years, and he felt he had become a more complete fighter than ever. He also said he was just now entering his best years as an MMA star.

“I’m hitting my stride. I feel good. There’s not a place that this fight can go that I’m not ready to be. There’s not a place where I’ll be unsure of myself or in a position where I haven’t been before. I trust myself at this point in my career to be ready for anything,” Poirier said.

Past Setback Helped Poirier Succeed in Future Fight

Poirier said his knockout loss to McGregor in 2014 changed his life. It forced him to deal with a setback, and that’s something most other humans have to deal with as well, though it usually doesn’t happen in such a public manner.

“We’re broadcasting our lives and some of the biggest moments of our lives for the duration of the fight. The 25 minutes of this next fight is going to be broadcast to the world. There’s no hiding. There’s no faking it. It is what it is,” Poirier said.

The experience of that setback is part of what prepared Poirier for his stunning win over six years later. Because Poirier knew he would be okay with however UFC 257 turned out, and he’ll likely carry that same kind of mindset into UFC 264 on July 10.

“Win, lose or draw, we take it in stride. Whatever happens, we have to face ourselves the next day,” Poirier.

There was just one thing “Predictive Poirier” didn’t get exactly right before UFC 257. The American thought a fight for UFC gold was on the way.

“100% the winner of this fight is going to be fighting for the belt,” Poirier said.

That didn’t end up being true last time around, but it’s likely the case for the winner after UFC 264.

READ NEXT: Face-to-Face With Dana White: ‘Just an Awkward Situation’

Twitter: @Kelsey_McCarson

YouTube: Real Talk with Kelsey and Rachel