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 one corner will be top lightweight contender Dustin Poirier, while at another 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 initial thoughts on the fight, and also what it means for the lightweight division.
Dustin Poirier vs. Max Holloway, UFC 236
Poirier and Holloway will meet in the main event of UFC 236 for its interim lightweight title. The card takes place April 13 at 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 new UFC champions will be crowned that night.
Before I get into the actual matchup involving Poirier and Holloway, I must speak about what this implies for the remaining lightweight division. Obviously, the decision to make an interim title usually means that the advertising expects UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov to be outside on the sidelines for some time. Indeed, he’s scheduled to return in the oldest in November because of his suspension stemming from the post-fight brawl in UFC 226. It is possible the UFC doesn’t even believe he will return before the end of the season is up, along with the branch obviously must keep moving around.
The fighter who gets hurt the most by this news is clearly Tony Ferguson, who’s on an 11-fight win series and that was the former interim title holder this past year until he slipped to a TV cable and blew out his knee. Ferguson returned late last year at UFC 226 having a TKO win over Anthony Pettis and most figured he would be the next competitor for Nurmagomedov. However, according to White, Ferguson turned into a interim name struggle with Holloway, and Poirier jumped in and took his own place instead. This implies for Ferguson moving forward remains to be seen, but considering what happened to Colby Covington and the welterweight division, it appears the UFC has moved on.
So far as the Poirier vs. Holloway fight goes, it’s an great matchup, and actually a rematch since the two formerly fought at UFC 143 back in 2012, together with Poirier beating Holloway by submission. Of course, that was Holloway’s UFC debut and he is a completely 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 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 struggle. Both guys are really on top of their game at this time and this should be an wonderful fight.
The offshore sportsbooks dropped the opening gambling odds for the struggle, with Holloway launching as a -230 betting favorite, together with all the comeback on Poirier at +170. The first betting action has come in on Holloway, though awarded Poirier’s past win more than 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 battle, which claims to be among the most-anticipated bouts of this year.
Along with Poirier vs. Holloway, UFC 236 additionally offers an interim middleweight title bout between Israel Adesanya and Kelvin Gastelum. You can check out my thoughts on the opening line for that bout here.
Launching 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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