He was one win away.
All Dustin Poirier had to do was defeat “The Korean Zombie”, Chan Sung Jung, and he would have guaranteed himself an opportunity to fight UFC Featherweight Champion Jose Also. Unfortunately, Jung lived up to the “Zombie” part of his nickname, refusing to die against the favored Poirier.
A fourth round submission loss in what many called the 2012 “fight of the year” saw his dream fade, at least for a while.
Like Josh Grispi before him, and more recently Erik Koch, one shot away from a title shot means very little in the ultra-competitive featherweight division. It is by no means a guarantee, and the pressure of such an opportunity is stifling. Now 24, Poirier will have many more opportunities in his career to create that defining moment. After the May 2012 loss to Jung, he bounced back with a first round pounding of Ultimate Fighter winner Jonathan Brookins. It was a momentum boost the young fighter needed.
On short notice, Poirier will face the battle tested Cub Swanson. Three straight wins have Swanson primed for his crack at the elite, but Poirier has other plans.
MMASucka.com spoke with Dustin Poirier to talk about his upcoming bout.
“I would have liked to have a full training camp, but when an opportunity pops up like that, sometimes you just have to jump at it. At the end of the day I’m a fighter, so I just have to fight.”
It’s that attitude which makes Poirier so intriguing and likable for fans of mixed martial arts. Turning down a fight is frowned upon as we’ve seen highlighted throughout the last year on multiple occasions, and his “anytime, anywhere” attitude always produces exciting bouts.
“I was in South Florida, I moved here now and I was at my place between training sessions. I got a call from my manager and he told me there was a big opportunity. He asked me where my weight was at and if I had been in the gym training. I told him I was in great shape, no injuries and I wanted to hop on this huge opportunity.”
The loss to Jung was certainly a misstep in the young fighter’s career, but no doubt will prove to be a learning lesson. As much as he loves to throw strikes, and he certainly has a talent for it, he will learn and develop through the years.
A win over Swanson on Saturday will surely propel Poirier back into the top of the division.
“I think a win over Cub will put me, if not a contender, one fight away from it. If I beat Cub, I’ll be 6-1 in the featherweight division and I don’t know what other 145ers in the UFC have that many wins.”
It’s a fight he can win, and certainly plans on doing so. There’s no doubt Poirier and Swanson are going to throw leather at UFC on Fuel TV 7. The only question is who will walk out victorious and one step closer to the coveted championship opportunity.
“TKO, the referee is going to be pulling me off of him.”