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 at stake in UFC 236. In 1 corner will be high lightweight competitor Dustin Poirier, while at the other corner UFC featherweight champion Max Holloway will endure, looking to join the select few UFC fighters who have won straps in two weight classes. Below, I’ll give my initial thoughts on the fight, 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 new UFC champions will be crowned that night.
Before I enter the actual matchup between Poirier and Holloway, I must talk about what this implies for the rest of the lightweight division. Evidently, the choice to create an interim name means the advertising expects UFC lightweight winner Khabib Nurmagomedov to be out in the sidelines for a while. Indeed, he is scheduled to return at the oldest in November due to his suspension coming out of the post-fight brawl at UFC 226. It is possible the UFC doesn’t even think he’ll return before the end of the season is up, and the division obviously needs to keep going around.
The fighter who has hurt the most by this information is clearly Tony Ferguson, who’s on an 11-fight win series and that had been the former interim title holder last year before he slipped to a TV cable and blew his knee out. Ferguson returned last year at UFC 226 with a TKO win over Anthony Pettis and most figured he’d be the next competitor 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 and the welterweight division, it appears the UFC has already moved on.
So far as the Poirier vs. Holloway fight goes, it’s an great matchup, and actually a rematch as both previously fought at UFC 143 back in 2012, together with Poirier beating Holloway by entry. Obviously, that was Holloway’s UFC debut and he’s a completely different fighter now. So is Poirier. They’re both are the top 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 fight. Both guys are truly at the top of their game at this time and this ought to be an wonderful fight.
The offshore sportsbooks dropped the opening gambling odds for the fight, with Holloway launching as a -230 betting favorite, with the comeback on Poirier in +170. The early betting action has come in on Holloway, however given Poirier’s previous win over him I anticipate some actions to come in his way at some point or another. In any event, the sportsbooks can expect a large handle for this fight, which promises to be among the most-anticipated bouts of this year.
Along with Poirier vs. Holloway, UFC 236 also features an interim middleweight title bout between Israel Adesanya and Kelvin Gastelum. You can check out my thoughts on 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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Read more: nhl2019.com