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 will be an interim lightweight title on the line in UFC 236. In one corner will probably be high lightweight competitor Dustin Poirier, while 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 primary event of UFC 236 for its interim lightweight name. The card takes place April 13 at State Farm Arena in Atlanta, Georgia. The co-main occasion 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 enter the actual matchup involving Poirier and Holloway, I have to talk about what this implies for the rest of the lightweight division. Obviously, the decision to create an interim title means the advertising expects UFC lightweight winner Khabib Nurmagomedov to be out on the sidelines for some time. Indeed, he is scheduled to return at the earliest in November because of his suspension stemming from the post-fight brawl in UFC 226. It’s possible the UFC does not even believe he will return before the end of the year is up, and the branch obviously needs to keep going around.
The fighter who has hurt the most by this news is obviously Tony Ferguson, who is on an 11-fight win series and that was the former interim title holder this past year until he slipped to a TV cable and blew out his knee. Ferguson returned late last year in UFC 226 with a TKO win over Anthony Pettis and most figured he would be the next opponent for Nurmagomedov. But according to White, Ferguson turned into a interim name fight with Holloway, and Poirier jumped in and took his own spot instead. This implies for Ferguson moving forward remains to be seen, but considering what happened to Colby Covington along with 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 as both previously fought UFC 143 back in 2012, together with Poirier beating Holloway by entry. Of course, that has been Holloway’s UFC debut and he’s a completely different fighter today. So is Poirier. They’re 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 from a TKO win over Eddie Alvarez. Holloway (20-3) is on a 13-fight win series and hauled out Brian Ortega in his final struggle. Both guys are truly on top of the game right now and this should be an amazing fight.
The offshore sportsbooks dropped the launching betting odds for the fight, with Holloway opening as a -230 gaming preferred, together with the comeback on Poirier at +170. The first betting action has come in on Holloway, though given Poirier’s previous win over him I expect some actions to come from his way at some point or another. Either way, the sportsbooks can anticipate a large deal with this fight, which promises to be among the most-anticipated bouts of the year.
Along with Poirier vs. Holloway, UFC 236 additionally offers an interim middleweight title bout between Israel Adesanya and Kelvin Gastelum. You can have a look at my thoughts on the opening lineup for that 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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