Fast rising UFC star Dustin Poirier has won more than a few new fans with his aggressive style and willingness to leave it all in the cage. Fresh off exciting wins over Josh Grispi and Jason Young, the young gun kindly agreed to spend some time with KnockoutLounge.com to fill us in on his future plans and his philosophy.
Craig Nelson: Welcome Dustin, thanks for taking some time out of your busy schedule for us today.
Dustin Poirier: Yeah, man, no problem.
CN: All right, let’s get this started. How did you wind up an MMA fighter?
DP: Well, I was always competetive, since I was young. I played football, wrestled for 11 years, and I always liked to fight, even as a kid, I just liked it.
CN: You mean street fights?
DP: Yeah, I fought a lot. I wanted to be a boxer, I always watched it with my Dad. Later on we watched MMA, UFC and IFL, and I really liked it. I started going to a boxing gym in Lafayette, LA, where I’m from, and they had guys coming in to train MMA a few times a week, so eventually I started to train in MMA, and Judo as well. I had quite a few amateur fights.
CN: With your wrestling background, did you do much BJJ? Watching your fights, it looks like you have a pretty well-developed ground game…
DP: Yeah, yeah, I competed in a lot of grappling tournaments. I have a purple belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.
CN: Any word on an upcoming fight?
DP: Well, I just fought June 11, so they haven’t given me an opponent yet, but I expect to fight again within the next 2-3 months.
CN: At 10-1 (and ranked as high as #5 Featherweight by MMAWeekly) and coming off 2 impressive wins in the UFC, you gotta think your next opponent is going to be a step up the ladder in competition…
DP: Well, I will fight whoever they put in front of me. The thing is, at this level everyone is good, you don’t get to fight in the UFC by accident, so whoever I face will have something to offer.
CN: Definitely, there aren’t any scrubs in the UFC.
DP: For sure, for sure.
CN: So, what’s the main attraction to you in being an MMA fighter?
DP: I would have to say the competition, I’ve always loved to compete, and the purity of it. Its the purest form of combat sport, two guys getting in there, man to man. I love getting hit, and hitting someone, I love it all. And the ground game. I fought Danny Castillo in the WEC, a fight I lost, but I got to show off my ground game in that fight. As I said, I am a purple belt in BJJ, and I really love the cerebral aspect of the ground game, it’s definitely a chess match…
CN: I agree, I love that aspect of MMA. Which brings to mind the question, how do you feel about “lay n pray”? It’s one of the most talked about terms among fans and fighters alike; I personally feel that most of the time the term is misused, and that the fighter accused of lay n pray is usually trying to advance. What are your thoughts?
DP: I feel that a lot of that is due to uneducated fans. There’s usually a lot more going on than those fans realize. It’s not often that a fighter takes someone down and just lays on them without doing anything.
CN: Exactly! I think a perfect case in point is the Guida/Pettis fight. A lot of people were talking about how Guida is such a lay n pray fighter, how all he did was lay on Pettis, and to me it seemed like he was trying to advance or land strikes almost the entire time!
DP: Oh, definitely, definitely, Pettis has a sick bottom game. He had wrist control most of the time. Fans don’t always know what they are seeing. I also think the refs have trouble with that sometimes, there have been some HORRIBLE standups lately.
CN: I know, you got a ref telling the fighters “Let’s work, gotta work” when the fighters are obviously trying to advance position or escape. It’s like, just let em fight, for God’s sake…
CN: So, you seem like a very humble guy, and not someone who would call out another fighter or ask for a title shot, but I know you must have goals, all fighters do. What are some of yours? What does your path to the title look like for you?
DP: Wow. Well, I am still young, I am only 22, so I’d say a few more years and I will be ready to challenge for the title. See, when I fight for the title, I don’t want to lose or not defend it. When I fight for the title, I want to win it and hold it for a long time. I’m not looking to rush it. I believe I have some God given talents, both mental and physical, and that plus hard training is what I rely on. I think it’s more realistic of a goal to stay in the UFC, to keep winning fights and keep fighting under the Zuffa banner. With that said, and the situation in the UFC, 3-5 more wins could see me getting a shot at the title, you never know. I am just happy with my life, and where I’m at. There’s much hard work ahead, but I welcome it, I embrace it all!
CN: And with that kind of attitude, and skills, I am sure you will be around for a long time. Who is the toughest guy you have fought, win or lose?
DP: Oh man, you’re putting me on the spot! Umm, let’s see, the last guy I fought, Jason Young, was REALLY tough. Danny Castillo too… I had a lot of tough fights as an amateur, too…man, I guess I’d have to say Jason. Or Danny. Probably Jason. Either one of those guys, I just couldn’t put em away.
CN: Yeah, those were great fights, for sure. So, if there’s just one thing people take away from this interview about Dustin Poirier, one thing you want them to know about you, what would it be?
DP: That I’m a hard worker, that none of this was given to me. I started out at a small camp, and working a 9-5 job, and WORKED my way up to the UFC. I have had 21 fights total, ammy and pro, I have a wife, I own a house, and I make my dreams come true.
CN: That’s awesome brother, sounds like your life is going according to plan. So, who is your favorite superhero?
DP: Oh, man, that is a tough one…there are so many good ones, so many good stories…
CN: Am I putting you on the spot again? (lol)
DP: (lol) Yeah, a little, but that’s ok. Umm, I gotta say the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Wait, they’re a group, can I say that?
CN: Yeah, sure, man, whatever you want. Why the Ninja Turtles?
DP: Man, when I was a kid, it was always them, the Thundercats, Transformers, and He-Man on tv, they were big in my childhood, and they were the toys in the toybox that my big brother played with that got handed down to me.
CN: Right on, man. Anyone you’d like to give shout outs to? Gym, sponsors, training partners?
DP: Absolutely. The Gladiators Academy in Lafayette, and Head Instructor Tim Credeur; training partners Eric Scallan and Aaron Phillips; Headrush Brand, Vitafight, and the Gun Store are my sponsors; and the UFC for the chance to do what I love for a living.
CN: Very cool. Any last thoughts you’d like to leave us with?
DP: I love you fans! Keep looking out for me, I’m gonna keep putting on great fights, no point fighting, and I’m gonna keep finishing fights!
CN: Outstanding. Thanks for taking the time, brother. Stay healthy and keep kicking ass!
DP: You bet. Thank you.
Watch Dustin work: