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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 on the line in UFC 236. In 1 corner will probably be high lightweight contender Dustin Poirier, while in 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’ll give my initial thoughts on the fight, and also what it implies for the lightweight division.
Dustin Poirier vs. Max Holloway, UFC 236
Poirier and Holloway will fulfill in the primary event of UFC 236 for the interim lightweight name. The card takes place April 13 at State Farm Arena in Atlanta, Georgia. The co-main occasion 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 get into the actual matchup between Poirier and Holloway, I have to speak about what this implies for the rest of the lightweight division. Evidently, the decision to create an interim name means that the advertising expects UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov to be out on the sidelines for a while. Really, 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 does not even believe he will return before the close of the year is up, and the division obviously needs to keep going around.
The fighter who has hurt the most with this information is obviously Tony Ferguson, who is on an 11-fight win streak and that had been the prior interim name holder last year until he slipped to 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 would 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 spot instead. This implies for Ferguson moving forward remains to be seen, but considering what happened to Colby Covington along with the welterweight division, it seems the UFC has already moved on.
So far as the Poirier vs. Holloway fight goes, it’s an great matchup, and actually a rematch as the two previously fought UFC 143 back in 2012, together with Poirier beating Holloway by entry. Of course, that was Holloway’s UFC debut and he is a very 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 is coming from a TKO win over Eddie Alvarez. Holloway (20-3) is on a 13-fight win series and hauled out Brian Ortega in his final fight. Both guys are really on top of their game at this time and this should be an amazing fight.
The offshore sportsbooks dropped the launching gambling odds for the fight, with Holloway launching as a -230 gaming preferred, together with the comeback on Poirier in +170. The early betting action has arrived in on Holloway, however given Poirier’s past win over him I expect some actions to come in his way at some point or another. Either way, the sportsbooks can expect a large deal with this particular fight, which promises to be one of the most-anticipated bouts of this year.
Along with 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 line for that 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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