May 31, 2024

Dustin Poirier's Journey from Lafayette Dreams to UFC Glory

Dustin Poirier's Journey from Lafayette Dreams to UFC Glory

Dustin Poirier's Journey from Lafayette Dreams to UFC Glory

In 'FIGHTVILLE,' the documentary capturing the Louisiana MMA scene filmed in 2009, a young 20-year-old Dustin Poirier looks directly into the camera and confidently declares that he will become the best 155-pound fighter in the world.

For a high school dropout from Lafayette, Louisiana, who had primarily fought fellow Cajuns in rundown rodeo arenas, the notion of not only reaching the pinnacle of MMA but also being recognized as one of the world's best seemed utterly improbable.

"Very few men will actually walk the aisles and get into that combat arena," Gil Guillory, founder of the Louisiana-based fighting promotion USA-MMA, which Poirier competed for early in his career, said in the film. "And very few men will do it 20-30 times. Most of these guys that fight, they will never fight again."

As it turned out, nearly every fighter featured in the documentary has since left the sport. Poirier (30-8) is not only still active, but at 35 years old, he is preparing for another shot at being the best lightweight in the world when he faces UFC champion Islam Makhachev (25-1) at UFC 302 on Saturday at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey.

"I think I'm knocking on the door," Poirier said about his ongoing aspiration to be the lightweight champion. "If I win this undisputed belt on June 1, you can stack my résumé against any other 155-pound fighter in the world. I think I'm close to being the greatest."

Poirier's résumé includes nearly everything he set out to achieve almost 20 years ago. He is the only person to beat Conor McGregor twice and has a career filled with battles against former world champions and top-tier fighters: Khabib Nurmagomedov, Charles Oliveira, Eddie Alvarez, Michael Chandler, Justin Gaethje, Max Holloway, Anthony Pettis, and others. Some are still fighting while others have retired. But Poirier remains, still fighting and still one of the most beloved figures in all of MMA.

"I have checked every single box except the one that says, 'undisputed champion,'" Poirier said. "That's a box I want checked. All the other boxes got checked on the way to this goal. It's a byproduct of me trying to be the best in the world. I'm still chasing that."

Capturing the title that has eluded him on his third attempt -- inside an arena located on Lafayette Street with his wife and 7-year-old daughter nearby -- would be a storybook ending for arguably the greatest mixed martial artist to never win a UFC championship.

"If I ever did write a book, I'd like to open up on a lot of the journeys I've had both physically and mentally because, man, it's been a fight," Poirier said of the nearly two-decade journey to get to this point. "I've been at war with these fighters, and I've been at war with myself for the past 17 years.

"The name of my book would be 'Paid in Full: The Story of El Diamante.'"

He acknowledged that right now, his book is incomplete and in need of a final chapter.

"This is the last box I'm checking on my to-do list in mixed martial arts," Poirier said.

Poirier is looking to finish his story.