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 will be an interim lightweight title at stake in UFC 236. In one corner will be top lightweight competitor Dustin Poirier, while in the other corner UFC featherweight champion Max Holloway will stand, looking to join the select few UFC fighters that have won straps in two weight classes. Below, I’ll give my first thoughts on the struggle, and also what it means 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 title. The card takes place April 13 at 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 involving Poirier and Holloway, I have to talk about what this implies for the remaining lightweight division. Obviously, the choice to create an interim title means that the advertising expects UFC lightweight winner Khabib Nurmagomedov to be out in the sidelines for some time. Indeed, he’s scheduled to return at the oldest in November because of his suspension stemming from the post-fight brawl at UFC 226. It’s possible the UFC does not even believe he will return before the close of the year is up, and the branch obviously needs to keep going around.
The fighter who has hurt the most with this news is clearly Tony Ferguson, who is on an 11-fight win streak and that was the former interim name holder last year until he slipped on a TV cable and blew out his knee. Ferguson returned late last year in UFC 226 having a TKO win over Anthony Pettis and many figured he’d be the next competitor for Nurmagomedov. However, according to White, Ferguson turned down an interim title struggle with Holloway, and Poirier jumped in and took his place instead. This implies for Ferguson going forward remains to be seen, but considering what happened to Colby Covington and the welterweight division, it seems the UFC has moved on.
So far as the Poirier vs. Holloway fight goes, it is an great matchup, and actually a rematch as the two previously fought UFC 143 back in 2012, with Poirier beating Holloway by submission. Obviously, that was Holloway’s UFC debut and he’s a very different fighter now. So is Poirier. They are both are the very best of their respective games and this rematch ought to be amazing. Poirier (24-5, 1 NC) is unbeaten over his last five fights and is coming off of a TKO win over Eddie Alvarez. Holloway (20-3) is on a 13-fight win streak and knocked out Brian Ortega in his final struggle. Both guys are really at the top of their game right now and this ought to be an wonderful battle.
The offshore sportsbooks dropped the launching gambling odds for the struggle, with Holloway opening as a -230 gaming preferred, with all the comeback on Poirier in +170. The first betting action has arrived in on Holloway, however awarded Poirier’s past win over him I anticipate some action to come in his way at some point or another. Either way, the sportsbooks can anticipate a large deal with this fight, which claims to be among the most-anticipated bouts of the year.
Along with Poirier vs. Holloway, UFC 236 additionally features an interim middleweight title bout between Israel Adesanya and Kelvin Gastelum. You can have a look at my thoughts about the opening lineup for that bout here.
Launching Betting Odds
April 13, 2019
Location: Atlanta, Georgia
Main Event — Interim Lightweight Title
Max Holloway -230
Dustin Poirier +170
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