If you ask MMA and UFC fans around the world who the current best lightweight in the world is, the chances are that Dustin Poirier will be the name you hear back at you.
The current number one ranked 155-pounder will step into the octagon for the third time in 2021 in the main event at UFC 269, looking to make it an undefeated year after consecutive wins over Conor McGregor at UFC 257 and UFC 264.
It will be his third title fight in the UFC and his second attempt to gain undisputed gold in the organisation, but this could be his final chance too.
When Poirier first challenged for gold in the UFC he was successful, dominating Max Holloway in a five-round war at UFC 236 to become the interim lightweight champion after a run of six fights undefeated prior to that (5-0, one no contest).
That set up a highly anticipated fight against Khabib Nurmagomedov five months later in Abu Dhabi, where his guillotine choke in the third round was the closest anyone has ever come to beating ‘The Eagle’.
Ultimately though, it ended in defeat when Khabib took his back against the cage and locked in a rear-naked choke to force the tap in the same round.
At the time of that fight, Poirier had been through wars and battled back from demons to get to where he was. He was now 30-years-old and the champion was seemingly invincible. His chance had gone.
As Khabib’s career hung in the balance as Dana White tried to convince him to have one more fight, Poirier’s star ascended thanks to a knockout win over McGregor in January. At this point, it was cemented – Poirier was the number one contender regardless of what Khabib decided to do.
When he chose to retire, Poirier was offered the title fight but instead turned it down in favour of a trilogy bout with the ‘Notorious’ one, further delaying his title shot.
Now just a few weeks before his 33rd birthday, Poirier steps into the cage for a 35th time and a 27th time under the UFC banner. With the way the lightweight division is set up currently, any fight beyond this one will be against an absolute killer.
A win means he’ll have a target on his back but he will be recognised as the absolute best in the world. He will surely relish the challenge and thrive in the pressure as he has done in all his most recent bouts.
A defeat though and it could potentially be the final nail in the coffin for any hopes he has of becoming the undisputed champion.
The list of fighters waiting for their shot is long and after two failed attempts, he would have to do something special to get back to the top of that mountain.
In one of the most stacked divisions in the company right now, it’s now or never for ‘The Diamond’ to shine brighter than he’s ever shone before and become the world champion.