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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 at stake at UFC 236. In 1 corner will probably be high lightweight competitor 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 straps in two weight classes. Below, I will give my initial thoughts on the struggle, and also what it implies 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 the 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 involving Poirier and Holloway, I have to speak about what this means for the rest of the lightweight division. Obviously, the choice to make an interim title usually means that the advertising expects UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov to be out in the sidelines for a while. Indeed, he is scheduled to return at the oldest in November due to his suspension coming out of the post-fight brawl in UFC 226. It is possible the UFC does not even think he’ll return before the close of the year is up, and the branch obviously needs to keep going around.
The fighter who has hurt the most by this news is clearly Tony Ferguson, who’s on an 11-fight win streak and that had been the prior interim name holder this past 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 many figured he would be the next competitor for Nurmagomedov. But according to White, Ferguson turned into a interim title struggle with Holloway, and Poirier jumped in and took his own spot instead. What this means for Ferguson going forward remains to be seen, but considering what happened to Colby Covington and the welterweight division, it appears the UFC has already moved on.
So far as the Poirier vs. Holloway fight goes, it is an awesome matchup, and really a rematch since both formerly fought 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 are both would be the top 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 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 last struggle. Both men are truly on top of the game at this time and this should be an wonderful battle.
The offshore sportsbooks dropped the launching gambling odds for the struggle, with Holloway opening as a -230 gaming preferred, with all the comeback on Poirier at +170. The first betting action has come in on Holloway, though given Poirier’s previous win over him I expect some action to come from his way sooner or later or another. In any event, the sportsbooks can expect a large handle for this fight, which claims to become among the most-anticipated bouts of the year.
In addition to Poirier vs. Holloway, UFC 236 also features an interim middleweight title bout between Israel Adesanya and Kelvin Gastelum. You can check out 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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