Even a bombshell dropped on the MMA world late Friday evening, when ESPN’s Brett Okamoto disclosed that UFC president Dana White confirmed to him that there will be a interim lightweight title on the line at UFC 236. In 1 corner will probably be top lightweight contender Dustin Poirier, while in another corner UFC featherweight champion Max Holloway will stand, trying to join the select few UFC fighters who have won straps in two weight classes. Below, I’ll give my first thoughts on the struggle, and what it means for the lightweight division.
Dustin Poirier vs. Max Holloway, UFC 236
Poirier and Holloway will meet in the main event of UFC 236 for its 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 new UFC champions will be crowned that night.
Before I enter the actual matchup involving Poirier and Holloway, I have to speak about what this means for the rest of the lightweight division. Evidently, the choice to make an interim name usually means the promotion expects UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov to be out on the sidelines for some time. Really, he is scheduled to return at the oldest in November because of his suspension stemming from the post-fight brawl in UFC 226. It is possible the UFC doesn’t even think he’ll return before the end of the season is up, and the branch obviously must keep going around.
The fighter who gets hurt the most with this information is clearly Tony Ferguson, who is on an 11-fight win streak and who had been the prior interim title holder last year until he slipped on a TV cable and blew out his knee. Ferguson returned late last year in UFC 226 with a TKO win over Anthony Pettis and many figured he would be the next competitor for Nurmagomedov. However, according to White, Ferguson turned down an interim name struggle with Holloway, and Poirier jumped in and took his place instead. This implies 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 already moved on.
As far as the Poirier vs. Holloway fight goes, it is an awesome matchup, and actually a rematch as the two formerly fought UFC 143 back in 2012, with Poirier beating Holloway by entry. Obviously, that was Holloway’s UFC debut and he is a completely different fighter now. So is Poirier. They are both are the top of their respective 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 really on a 13-fight win streak and knocked out Brian Ortega in his final struggle. Both men are truly at the top of their game right now and this ought to be an wonderful fight.
The offshore sportsbooks dropped the launching gambling odds for the struggle, with Holloway launching as a -230 gaming preferred, together with all the comeback on Poirier at +170. The early betting action has come in on Holloway, though given Poirier’s past win more than him I anticipate some actions to come in his way sooner or later or another. In any event, the sportsbooks can anticipate a large deal with this particular fight, which claims to become one of the most-anticipated bouts of this year.
In addition to Poirier vs. Holloway, UFC 236 additionally offers an interim middleweight title bout between Israel Adesanya and Kelvin Gastelum. You can check out my thoughts about the opening line 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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