Even 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 an interim lightweight title on the line in UFC 236. In one 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 will give my first thoughts on the struggle, and also what it implies for the lightweight division.
Dustin Poirier vs. Max Holloway, UFC 236
Poirier and Holloway will fulfill in the main 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 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 have to speak about what this implies for the remaining lightweight division. Evidently, the decision to create an interim title usually means that the advertising expects UFC lightweight winner Khabib Nurmagomedov to be outside on the sidelines for a while. Indeed, he is scheduled to return at the earliest in November because of his suspension stemming from the post-fight brawl at UFC 226. It is possible the UFC doesn’t even believe he’ll return before the close of the year is up, along with the branch obviously needs to keep moving around.
The fighter who has hurt the most by this information is obviously Tony Ferguson, who is on an 11-fight win streak and who was 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 title fight with Holloway, and Poirier jumped in and took his place instead. This implies for Ferguson moving forward remains to be seen, but considering what happened to Colby Covington and the welterweight division, it seems the UFC has already moved on.
So far as the Poirier vs. Holloway fight goes, it is an great matchup, and really a rematch as the two formerly fought at UFC 143 back in 2012, together with Poirier beating Holloway by entry. Obviously, that was Holloway’s UFC debut and he is a very different fighter today. So is Poirier. They are both would be the very best of their respective 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 streak and hauled out Brian Ortega in his last struggle. Both men are truly at the top of the game at this time and this should be an amazing fight.
The offshore sportsbooks dropped the launching betting odds for the struggle, with Holloway opening as a -230 betting favorite, together with the comeback on Poirier at +170. The early betting action has come in on Holloway, though given Poirier’s past win over him I expect some actions to come in his way at some point or another. In any event, the sportsbooks can expect a large handle for this particular fight, which promises to be among the most-anticipated bouts of the year.
In addition to Poirier vs. Holloway, UFC 236 additionally features an interim middleweight title bout between Israel Adesanya and Kelvin Gastelum. You can check out my thoughts about the opening lineup for that bout here.
Opening 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
Read more: truesportrealtalk.com