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’ll be a interim lightweight title on the line in UFC 236. In 1 corner will probably be top lightweight competitor Dustin Poirier, while at the other corner UFC featherweight champion Max Holloway will endure, looking to join the select few UFC fighters that have won straps in two weight classes. Below, I will 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 primary event of UFC 236 for the interim lightweight name. The card takes place April 13 in 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 means for the remaining lightweight division. Evidently, the decision to make an interim title means that the advertising expects UFC lightweight winner Khabib Nurmagomedov to be out on the sidelines for a while. Indeed, he’s scheduled to return in the oldest in November due to his suspension stemming from the post-fight brawl in UFC 226. It is possible the UFC doesn’t even believe he’ll return before the close of the year is up, and the division obviously must keep going around.
The fighter who has hurt the most with this news is clearly Tony Ferguson, who’s on an 11-fight win streak and that was the prior interim name holder last year before he slipped on a TV cable and blew out his knee. Ferguson returned last year at UFC 226 having 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 own spot instead. What this means 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.
So far as the Poirier vs. Holloway fight goes, it’s an awesome matchup, and really a rematch as the two formerly fought UFC 143 back in 2012, with Poirier beating Holloway by entry. Of course, that has been Holloway’s UFC debut and he’s 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 streak and hauled out Brian Ortega in his last fight. Both men are really on top of their game at this time and this should be an wonderful fight.
The offshore sportsbooks dropped the opening betting odds for the fight, with Holloway opening as a -230 gaming preferred, with the comeback on Poirier in +170. The early betting action has come in on Holloway, however given Poirier’s previous win over him I expect some action to come in his way sooner or later or another. In any event, the sportsbooks can expect a large handle for this fight, which promises to be among the most-anticipated bouts of this year.
In addition to Poirier vs. Holloway, UFC 236 also offers an interim middleweight title bout between Israel Adesanya and Kelvin Gastelum. You can check out my thoughts about the opening line for this bout here.
Launching Betting Odds
April 13, 2019
Location: Atlanta, Georgia
Main Event — Interim Lightweight Title
Max Holloway -230
Dustin Poirier +170
CLICK BELOW TO BET ON UFC 236
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