During his post-fight scrum after a ‘Fight of the Year’ contender against Justin Gaethje at UFC on FOX 29, Dustin Poirier said these two words to summarize his experience: ‘It hurts.’ The ‘Diamond’ went through hell against the ‘Highlight,’ who he finished via fourth-round TKO in one of the most violent fights of 2018. Though he sustained some damage, as is the case with nearly every opponent Gaethje collides with, Poirier enjoyed the experience—so much so that he wanted to do it again.
Now five years removed from their first fight, the UFC has given Poirier what he wanted. Dana White announced that the Lafayette native and Gaethje are sharing the Octagon again, and this time, there is some added flair: the now-vacant ‘Baddest Motherf—ker’ (BMF) championship. As expected, fans and fighters were excited for Poirier vs. Gaethje 2, and so was the former, who reacted to the news of his rematch on a recent edition of The MMA Hour with Ariel Helwani.
“I want those butterflies in my stomach, and I want to be nervous,” said Poirier. “And guys like [Michael] Chandler, [Conor] McGregor, [Justin] Gaethje — those kinds of fights give me that. I’m fighting because I want to, not because I have to, so I want to be excited and motivated. I need it. That’s where I do my best. That’s where I’m the most motivated. That’s where I learn the most about myself and about combat sports. That’s where greatness is, man, in that uncomfortable.
“And that’s why I try to do, put myself in that fire,” continued Poirier. “This is one of those fights that does it. If this fight doesn’t get you excited, you’re not a fan of combat sports. Turn off YouTube right now and stop watching this show, because this fight is what I’m going to pick the ‘War’ hat up for. I know what I’m going into — it’s a head-on collision and I’m not turning away. That’s what this fight is and that’s what I want. That excites me, dude. It gets me pumped up right now.”
Dustin Poirier addresses Gaethje’s recent adjustments
Since the Poirier loss, Gaethje has gone 6-2 in his past eight appearances, with the two losses coming against former UFC lightweight champions in Khabib Nurmagomedov and Charles Oliveira. The 34-year-old credited that stretch to the adjustments he and his team have come up with through the years.
“I used to be very emotional,” said Gaethje in an interview with Damon Martin of MMA Fighting. “I used to think I needed to build up this anger to be the person I needed to be. And through all the experience and all these fights, I’ve understood that it is who I am. My athletic ability, my intuitive ability to operate in the chaos and control the chaos, I think is something I’ve really been able to hone into and understand that it’s something that allows me to be the fighter that I need to be.
“I think we’re both different fighters,” continued Gaethje. “Obviously, that was five years ago. So, yeah, it’s a different ballgame, but a fight’s a fight. At the end of the day, I think he’s got phenomenal skills, he’s a hell of a matchup for me, and nothing short of Fight of the Century again.”
Poirier said he saw those adjustments from Gaethje, especially in his most recent appearance against Rafael Fiziev at UFC 286 this past March. That said, regardless of a different Gaethje, the American Top Team (ATT) representative expects the same outcome as their first fight.
“I think he looked a little different, right?,” said Poirier. “Everybody says his boxing and things are changing — he looked [different], he did. He used the jab a lot better, he used his lateral footwork a lot better. So he did, but I still see Justin Gaethje, the same guy. He’s doing a few things better, but I still see me being a matador and touching this guy. [He’s still the same], just now he does it with a seat belt on, you know?”
When is Dustin Poirier vs. Justin Gaethje 2?
Dustin Poirier vs. Justin Gaethje 2 is set as the headliner of UFC 291, the upcoming pay-per-view event scheduled for July 29 at the Delta Center in Salt Lake City, Utah.
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