A bombshell dropped on the MMA world late Friday evening, when ESPN’s Brett Okamoto disclosed that UFC president Dana White affirmed to him that there will be an interim lightweight title at stake in UFC 236. In 1 corner will probably be high lightweight contender Dustin Poirier, while at the other corner UFC featherweight champion Max Holloway will endure, trying to join the select few UFC fighters who have won belts in two weight classes. Below, I will give my initial thoughts on the struggle, and 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 its interim lightweight name. The card takes place April 13 in State Farm Arena in Atlanta, Georgia. The co-main occasion 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 between Poirier and Holloway, I have to talk about what this implies for the remaining lightweight division. Obviously, the decision to create an interim name usually means that the advertising expects UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov to be out in the sidelines for some time. Indeed, he’s scheduled to return at the oldest in November because of his suspension coming out of the post-fight brawl in UFC 226. It’s possible the UFC does not even think he’ll return before the close of the season is up, along with the branch obviously needs to keep going around.
The fighter who has hurt the most with this information is obviously Tony Ferguson, who is on an 11-fight win series and who was the former interim title holder this past year until he slipped to a TV cable and blew his knee out. Ferguson returned last year in UFC 226 having a TKO win over Anthony Pettis and most figured he would be the next competitor for Nurmagomedov. But according to White, Ferguson turned into a interim name struggle with Holloway, and Poirier jumped in and took his place 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.
As far as the Poirier vs. Holloway fight goes, it’s an great matchup, and really a rematch as both formerly fought at UFC 143 back in 2012, together with Poirier beating Holloway by submission. Of course, that was Holloway’s UFC debut and he is a very different fighter now. So is Poirier. They are 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 is coming off of a TKO win over Eddie Alvarez. Holloway (20-3) is really on a 13-fight win series and hauled out Brian Ortega in his last fight. Both men are truly at the top of their game right now and this should be an amazing battle.
The offshore sportsbooks dropped the launching gambling odds for the struggle, with Holloway opening as a -230 betting favorite, together with the comeback on Poirier in +170. The first betting action has come in on Holloway, though given Poirier’s past win more than him I anticipate some actions to come from his way at some point or another. In any event, the sportsbooks can anticipate a large deal with this particular fight, which claims to become 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 can have a look at my thoughts on the opening line 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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