Even 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 on the line in UFC 236. In 1 corner will probably be high lightweight competitor Dustin Poirier, whilst at another corner UFC featherweight champion Max Holloway will stand, looking to join the select few UFC fighters that have won belts in two weight classes. Below, I’ll give my initial thoughts on the fight, and 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 title. The card takes place April 13 in State Farm Arena in Atlanta, Georgia. The co-main event of this 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 must talk about what this means for the remaining lightweight division. Evidently, the choice to create an interim name usually means the advertising expects UFC lightweight winner Khabib Nurmagomedov to be out in the sidelines for some time. Really, he’s scheduled to return in the earliest in November due to his suspension stemming from the post-fight brawl in UFC 226. It is possible the UFC does not even believe he will return before the end of the season is up, along with the division obviously needs to keep going around.
The fighter who has hurt the most with this information is obviously Tony Ferguson, who’s on an 11-fight win streak and that had been the former interim name holder this past year before he slipped on a TV cable and blew out his knee. Ferguson returned last year at UFC 226 having a TKO win over Anthony Pettis and many figured he would be the next competitor for Nurmagomedov. However, according to White, Ferguson turned into a interim title fight with Holloway, and Poirier jumped in and took his place instead. What this means for Ferguson going forward remains to be seen, but considering what happened to Colby Covington and the welterweight division, it appears the UFC has moved on.
As far as the Poirier vs. Holloway fight goes, it’s an great matchup, and actually a rematch since both previously fought at UFC 143 back in 2012, with Poirier beating Holloway by submission. Of course, that was Holloway’s UFC debut and he is a very different fighter today. So is Poirier. They’re both are the very best of their respective games and this rematch should be amazing. Poirier (24-5, 1 NC) is unbeaten over his last five fights and will be coming off of a TKO win over Eddie Alvarez. Holloway (20-3) is on a 13-fight win streak and hauled out Brian Ortega in his final fight. Both men are really on top of their game at this time and this ought to be an amazing battle.
The offshore sportsbooks dropped the launching betting odds for the fight, with Holloway opening as a -230 betting favorite, together with all the comeback on Poirier at +170. The first betting action has come in on Holloway, however awarded Poirier’s previous win more than him I expect some action to come in his way at some point or another. Either way, the sportsbooks can anticipate a large deal with this particular fight, which claims to be among the most-anticipated bouts of the year.
In addition to 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 line 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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