A bombshell dropped on the MMA world late Friday evening, when ESPN’s Brett Okamoto revealed that UFC president Dana White confirmed to him that there’ll be a interim lightweight title at stake in UFC 236. In one corner will probably be high lightweight competitor Dustin Poirier, while in another corner UFC featherweight champion Max Holloway will stand, trying to join the select few UFC fighters who have won straps in two weight classes. Below, I’ll give my initial thoughts on the fight, and also what it implies for the lightweight division.
Dustin Poirier vs. Max Holloway, UFC 236
Poirier and Holloway will fulfill in the main event of UFC 236 for its interim lightweight name. The card takes place April 13 in State Farm Arena in Atlanta, Georgia. The co-main event of the card is an interim middleweight title bout between Israel Adesanya and Kelvin Gastelum, meaning two fresh UFC champions will be crowned that night.
Before I get into the actual matchup between Poirier and Holloway, I have to speak about what this implies for the rest of the lightweight division. Obviously, the decision to make an interim name means the advertising expects UFC lightweight winner Khabib Nurmagomedov to be out on the sidelines for a while. Really, he’s scheduled to return in the oldest in November because of his suspension coming out of the post-fight brawl in UFC 226. It is possible the UFC doesn’t even think he’ll return before the end of the season is up, and the branch obviously must keep going around.
The fighter who gets hurt the most with this information is obviously Tony Ferguson, who is on an 11-fight win streak and who had been the prior interim name holder last year before he slipped on a TV cable and blew his knee out. Ferguson returned late last year at UFC 226 with a TKO win over Anthony Pettis and most figured he would be the next competitor for Nurmagomedov. But according to White, Ferguson turned into a interim name struggle with Holloway, and Poirier jumped in and took his own place instead. This implies for Ferguson moving forward remains to be seen, but considering what happened to Colby Covington along with the welterweight division, it seems the UFC has already moved on.
As far as the Poirier vs. Holloway fight goes, it’s an great matchup, and actually a rematch as the two previously fought at UFC 143 back in 2012, together with Poirier beating Holloway by submission. Obviously, that has been Holloway’s UFC debut and he is a very different fighter today. So is Poirier. They’re both are the very best of their various games and this rematch ought to be amazing. Poirier (24-5, 1 NC) is unbeaten over his last five fights and is coming from a TKO win over Eddie Alvarez. Holloway (20-3) is really on a 13-fight win series and hauled out Brian Ortega in his final fight. Both guys are truly at the top of their game right now and this ought to be an amazing battle.
The offshore sportsbooks dropped the launching gambling odds for the struggle, with Holloway launching as a -230 gaming preferred, together with all the comeback on Poirier at +170. The early betting action has come in on Holloway, however given Poirier’s past win over him I anticipate some actions to come from his way sooner or later or another. Either way, the sportsbooks can expect a large handle for this battle, which promises to become one of the most-anticipated bouts of the year.
Along with Poirier vs. Holloway, UFC 236 also offers an interim middleweight title bout between Israel Adesanya and Kelvin Gastelum. You may check out my thoughts about the opening lineup for this bout here.
Opening Betting Odds
April 13, 2019
Location: Atlanta, Georgia
Main Event — Interim Lightweight Title
Max Holloway -230
Dustin Poirier +170
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