Post-Fight Thoughts: Dustin Poirier -vs- Max Holloway 2
It's well over 12 hours later, and I'm still trying to process what we saw in the main event of UFC 236. Following a tense and exciting co-main event that easily clinched Fight Of The Night honours — or so one would think — the main event delivered a Fight Of The Year candidate. For almost the entirety of the fight, both Dustin Poirier and Max Holloway were waging a back-and-forth war. This was an incredibly violent, gritty, battle of attrition between two of the most elite MMA fighters in the world; words fail to sufficiently describe how simultaneously impressive and horrifying these feats were.
Charging out of the gate, Dustin Poirier turned in a shockingly dominant first round as he staggered Max multiple times with huge power shots. Just like in the co-main event, this fight saw a lot of my predictions go unfulfilled. Poirier was indeed able to back Max up with his hard shots, and did a good job of keeping Max from swarming him with pressure. Also, Max's chin, while it help up throughout the fight, didn't render him immune to what Poirier was doing. Max looked concerned by the force of Poirier's shots on multiple occasions, and was forced toback off. Holloway's stamina was otherwordly as he was able to press forward and throw barrages of punches to the head and body when openings presented themselves.
Despite having both eyes busted up and getting his forehead cut open by a knee, Holloway didn't falter and was trying to find a way to win right up until the final bell. Max's chin is beyond belief, as Poirier was smashing him with very hard shots but just could not put him away. Poirier's cardio was impressive in its own right, as he spent 5 rounds throwing a lot of bombs as well as unsuccessfully shooting for takedowns. The pace this bout was fought at was gruelling — a rarity even at the highest levels of the sport. Both fighters gave everything they had and held nothing back.
Even moreso than the co-main event, this was a fight that raised the stock of both fighters. Max Holloway may have been defeated, but he acquitted himself very well; Max didn't just take a beating and survive to the final bell in a feat of durability. I can't offer much in terms of round-by-round scoring as I was too engrossed in the fight and won't be able to rewatch it for some time. I gave Poirier a 10-8 first round and Holloway never had him in anything close to being finished. It was a close fight after the first round, but Poirier did more visible damage and landed the visually more notable shots. Max wasn't outclassed but he was beaten.
Theoretically we'll be seeing Dustin Poirier matched up with Khabib Nurmagomedov, when the latter's suspension is over. There is the chance that injury or a spontaneous — and incredibly stupid — Conor McGregor rematch keeps Khabib from fighting Poirier, however. Regardless, a long layoff is definitely in order for both Poirier and Holloway. Poirier has been in wars with a murderer's row of opponents in his last few fights: Eddie Alvarez, Justin Gaethje and now Max Holloway. And Holloway took a disturbing amount of damage in this fight; while Max seemed to take the shots well the sheer number of power shots he absorbed will exact a toll eventually. Featherweight has been cleaned out anyway, so Holloway isn't depriving any contenders of a title shot if he takes a long vacation.
Regardless of what comes next for either of these fighters, Dustin Poirier and Max Holloway delivered a legendary battle — the type of war that takes something from both men which they will never get back.
Published: April 14th, 2019.