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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 an interim lightweight title on the line in UFC 236. In 1 corner will probably be high lightweight competitor Dustin Poirier, whilst in the other corner UFC featherweight champion Max Holloway will endure, looking to join the select few UFC fighters who have won belts in two weight classes. Below, I will give my first thoughts on the fight, and also what it implies for the lightweight division.
Dustin Poirier vs. Max Holloway, UFC 236
Poirier and Holloway will meet in the primary event of UFC 236 for the interim lightweight name. The card takes place April 13 at 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 enter the actual matchup involving Poirier and Holloway, I must speak about what this implies for the rest of the lightweight division. Obviously, the decision to create an interim name usually means that the promotion expects UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov to be out in the sidelines for a while. Indeed, he’s scheduled to return at the earliest 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 close of the season is up, along with the division obviously must keep moving around.
The fighter who gets hurt the most by this news is obviously Tony Ferguson, who’s on an 11-fight win series and who had been the prior interim title holder last year before he slipped to a TV cable and blew his knee out. Ferguson returned last year in UFC 226 with a TKO win over Anthony Pettis and most figured he’d be the next opponent for Nurmagomedov. But according to White, Ferguson turned down an interim name struggle with Holloway, and Poirier jumped in and took his spot instead. What this means for Ferguson going 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 is an awesome matchup, and actually a rematch since both previously fought at UFC 143 back in 2012, with Poirier beating Holloway by submission. Obviously, that has been Holloway’s UFC debut and he is a very different fighter now. So is Poirier. They’re both would be the very best of their various 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 series and hauled out Brian Ortega in his last struggle. Both guys are really on top of their game right now and this should be an amazing battle.
The offshore sportsbooks dropped the launching gambling odds for the fight, with Holloway launching as a -230 betting favorite, with the comeback on Poirier at +170. The early betting action has arrived in on Holloway, though awarded Poirier’s past win more than him I anticipate some actions to come from his way sooner or later or another. In any event, the sportsbooks can expect a large handle for this battle, which promises to be among the most-anticipated bouts of the year.
In addition to 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 about the opening lineup for this bout here.
Opening Betting Odds
UFC 236:
April 13, 2019
Location: Atlanta, Georgia
Main Event — Interim Lightweight Title
Max Holloway -230
Dustin Poirier +170

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