Dustin Poirier or Michael Chandler might not be in the main event at UFC 281,, but they could win the race for superlatives if the card were a race of fights.
With a combination 15 pre-fight bonus and an impressive finishing rate that includes 25 knockouts as well as 16 submissions the lightweights can be expected to stage a fight that is comparable to a human demolition derby.
While Poirier has conditioned himself to fight more strategically in recent years rather than engaging in all out wars, his longtime head coach Mike Brown said the former interim lightweight champion has his sights set on delivering exactly what fans expect when he clashes with Chandler.
“Dustin comes to fight every time,” Brown told MMA Fighting. You’ll be gnashing your teeth every time. He is a heat-seeker. He slows down, which I enjoy. But I doubt he has it in him.
“Every bone in his body says kill, kill, kill and he’s in there to take the guy out as quick as you can.”
Brown praises Poirier as a very coachable fighter, and he’s continuously developed the ability to drag his opponents into deeper waters and drown them. The American Top Team veteran coach is well aware that Chandler has the type of fighting power to send him home after the first round.
“He has matured greatly,” Brown stated about Poirier. He’s much more productive when he takes his own time. He also has tremendous conditioning, so he’s not going to slow down. A lot of the time, the longer it plays out, the better it is for him. I mean no doubt it, he has the ability to get the guy out of there quick and early. Although he has this ability, I don’t think it makes sense for him to destroy the man so quickly.
“It’s better to be strategic, take your time and chip away, pick the guy apart and take him out in the later minutes or the later rounds than just getting into a one-minute shootout, which he has the ability to do.”
While Chandler promised that he would do the same thing in UFC, including his 2021 fight against Justin Gaethje’s “Fight of the year”, Brown hesitates to accept the game plan of the ex-Bellator champion.
While Chandler is known for his thrilling bouts, Brown also knows that he’s a skilled wrestler who has enough grappling to be able to surprise Poirier – if that wasn’t already a possibility.
“I think Chandler is more versatile in that he has a strong wrestling pedigree, and he does have the ability to wrestle and work takedowns as well,” Brown said. “He’s a well-rounded, dangerous athlete. He’s known for his exciting fights, but he does have the capability to do a lot of different things and fight in a lot of different places.
“He is most well-known for [exciting fights],, but over the years I believe he has won by strategy and mixing up fights and winning. We’re ready for anything .”
Poirier’s return at UFC 281 also marks his first appearance since falling short in his second bid to become undisputed lightweight champion after he fell to Charles Oliveira almost exactly one year ago.
Much like the Super Bowl losing team, title fighters who come back after a poor performance sometimes fail to deliver because of the deflating feeling.
For his part, Brown doesn’t expect any drop off from Poirier in his fight against Chandler. If anything, Brown anticipates Poirier to be even more fired up because he’s never suffered losses in back-to-back fights and he doesn’t plan on starting now.
” “Honestly, I believe he is hungrier then ever,” Brown stated. “I think a lot of times it’s usually after a loss is when a guy is most hungry, especially a guy of Dustin’s caliber. Sometimes on a big streak, people become complacent but I think this is the type of thing that motivates a guy like Dustin. He may be more relaxed if he has a string of wins or is on a winning streak. But when there’s a bitter taste in the mouth from defeat it’s much more motivating.
“It’s cliche, they say you learn a lot more from your losses than your wins, but it’s very true. It’s very motivating. You train more. To be more prepared and to do the best you can to not have that feeling ever happen again.”