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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 affirmed to him that there’ll be a interim lightweight title on the line in UFC 236. In one corner will be top lightweight contender Dustin Poirier, whilst in another corner UFC featherweight champion Max Holloway will endure, trying to join the select few UFC fighters that have won belts in two weight classes. Below, I will give my first 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 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 new UFC champions will be crowned that night.
Before I get into the actual matchup between Poirier and Holloway, I must talk about what this means for the rest of the lightweight division. Evidently, the choice to create an interim name usually means that the promotion expects UFC lightweight winner Khabib Nurmagomedov to be outside in the sidelines for some time. Really, he’s scheduled to return at the oldest in November due to his suspension stemming from the post-fight brawl in UFC 226. It’s possible the UFC doesn’t even believe he will return before the end of the year is up, along with the branch obviously needs to keep moving around.
The fighter who has hurt the most with this news is obviously Tony Ferguson, who’s on an 11-fight win streak and who was the prior interim title holder last year before he slipped to a TV cable and blew his knee out. Ferguson returned late last year at 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 title fight with Holloway, and Poirier jumped in and took his place instead. What this means for Ferguson moving forward remains to be seen, but considering what happened to Colby Covington along with the welterweight division, it seems the UFC has moved on.
As far as the Poirier vs. Holloway fight goes, it is an awesome matchup, and really a rematch as the two previously 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 completely different fighter today. So is Poirier. They’re both would be the top of their various games and this rematch ought to be amazing. Poirier (24-5, 1 NC) is unbeaten over his last five fights and will be coming from a TKO win over Eddie Alvarez. Holloway (20-3) is really on a 13-fight win series and knocked out Brian Ortega in his final fight. Both guys are really at the top of their game at this time and this should be an amazing fight.
The offshore sportsbooks dropped the opening gambling odds for the fight, with Holloway opening as a -230 gaming preferred, with all the comeback on Poirier at +170. The early betting action has arrived in on Holloway, however given Poirier’s previous win over him I expect some actions to come in his way sooner or later or another. Either way, the sportsbooks can anticipate a large deal with this fight, which claims to be one of the most-anticipated bouts of this year.
In addition to Poirier vs. Holloway, UFC 236 additionally features an interim middleweight title bout between Israel Adesanya and Kelvin Gastelum. You may check out my thoughts on the opening lineup for that bout here.
Launching 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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