Dustin Poirier (25-5) ended Max Holloway’s (20-4) six-year unbeaten streak to claim the interim Lightweight championship at UFC 236 in Atlanta, Georgia.
Poirier looked like he hurt Holloway early in the first, only for the featherweight champ to come battling back, connecting on an absurd combination against the cage. Poirier returned with shots of his own, hurting Holloway twice midway through the round as he looked to end the fight early. Holloway appeared out on his feet, but recovered enough to somehow stay standing to close the round.
Holloway settled into the second round, picking his spots with body strikes and precise head shots. Poirier slowed the rapid pace he set in the first, looking for an opening in the featherweight champ’s aggressive onslaught and eventually hurting Holloway again, sending him sprawling backwards against the cage, but Holloway wasn’t close to bowing out.
Poirier spent much of the third round smashing jabs, crushing Holloway’s right eye with shot after shot. Holloway finally put together a combination, throwing straights and hooks before attempting a flying knee and nasty elbow shots to close the round.
Poirier opened the championship round with his first takedown. Holloway escaped to his feet and connected with a knee to the body, but kept the pressure on with beautiful level changes on volume shots to the body and head. Poirier battled back, throwing everything into heavy-handed shots, but he couldn’t finish Holloway. He did, however, open up a nasty gash on Holloway’s head with glancing knee to finish the round.
Holloway pressed early in the fifth, but Poirier was there with an answer, jabbing back each time. Both clearly exhausted, Holloway and Poirer ended the bout in a stalemate.
Holloway won 13-consecutive fights coming into Saturday night’s bout with Poirier. Leading one of the most dominant stretches in recent memory, Holloway knocked out Anthony Pettis and Jose Aldo (twice) before destroying the formerly unbeaten Brian Ortega into a doctor’s stoppage. Conversely, “The Diamond” defeated former champs Pettis, Justin Gaethje and Eddie Alvarez on his way to a showdown for the title Saturday night.
The fight was a rematch seven years in the making, after Poirier submitted Holloway in the first round of his UFC debut. Poirier will now go on to fight Khabib Nurmagomedov for the Lightweight crown.