At UFC 125 on Jan. 1, featherweight contender Josh Grispi (14-2) was originally scheduled to face current champion Jose Aldo, so when Aldo had to withdraw with an injury, not many expected much from Grispi’s replacement, Dustin Poirier (9-1).
Against Grispi, even though Poirier was dropping to featherweight for the first time and fighting on national television, Poirier confidently predicted that he would take the fight right to Grispi.
Fighters make bold pre-fight predictions all the time, but Poirier delivered exactly what he promised, nearly stopping Grispi on more than one occasion with vicious punches and knees and dominating all three rounds for an easy decision win.
Discussing his performance, Poirier told ProMMAnow.com that he felt comfortable in the UFC spotlight.
“I felt really good,” Poirier said. “The WEC really got me ready.”
As for the weight cut, he replied, “It was a big cut for me. It was probably one of the biggest cuts I’ve ever done. The day of the weigh-in was pretty rough, but I put the weight back on really well. I probably got in the cage at around 165.”
While Poirier planned on taking the fight to Grispi and coming away with the win, he admitted that he expected to take more damage in return. But after landing a series of knees from the clinch early on, Poirier took control.
“I was expecting a war, man,” he said. “I thought it was going to be a back and forth battle. That’s just my style. I’m always trying to finish the fight.”
Although the fight ended up a little more lopsided than planned, Poirier’s strategy to push the pace against Grispi — who had only gone past the first round in one of his prior professional fights — paid off.
“I’d never really seen him grinded on, so that’s what I wanted to do,” Poirier said.
Poirier also had his ground game tested against Grispi, who has seven submission wins to his credit. But even on the ground, Poirier managed to stay composed and out of trouble.
During the later rounds, Grispi tried for a guillotine choke, kimura, and triangle choke. Each time, Poirier broke free and landed more punishing shots.
“I have a great group of guys down here” at Gladiators Academy in Lafayette, La., Poirier said. “He wasn’t going to do anything I haven’t seen before.”
Although crediting Grispi for his toughness, Poirier never wants to rely on the judges. He has reviewed the fight several times to critique his performance and see what he could’ve done to finish the fight.
“After watching the fight a couple times, I really did get sloppy a couple times,” he said. “I landed some good shots on him, a couple of knees that landed flush on the chin. But when I had him hurt he shot in or fell for a single leg [takedown], and I kind of went with it.”
Poirier said he has not discussed with UFC officials when he might return to the Octagon, but he hopes to fight again as soon as possible.
Asked if he had any opponent in mind, Poirier said that he simply wants to go up against anyone willing to push the pace and put on a great fight. But now that he has a big win to his credit, more fighters might be interested in going up against him.
“I know Diego Nunes said he wanted to fight me in a recent interview,” Poirier said. “I take that as a compliment, having a guy that’s made a name for himself like that saying that he wants to fight me.”
Poirier hasn’t had to worry about getting out of shape after the Grispi fight. After UFC 125, Poirier went on a tour overseas with other UFC notables, such as Nate Quarry and Tom Lawlor, going to Japan to meet members of the U.S. military and conduct seminars.
“It was awesome,” Poirier said of the experience. “They were soaking everything up that we showed them. I’ve only had one UFC fight, but a lot of them had pictures for me to sign and knew my name. It was a lot of fun and great to be able to work with those guys.”