Any fight fan who spent time on social media in the past month or so has probably seen someone express the sentiment that they don’t want to see Charles Oliveira or Dustin Poirier lose on Saturday when the two face off in the main event of UFC 269. I get that. Not only are both men firmly on the good guys side of the equation — Poirier has his foundation and Oliveira has provided for his community — but both have toiled for years in the MMA trenches before finding their footing and becoming the two best fighters in the current UFC lightweight landscape.
Hard work, perseverance, belief, an ability to learn and adjust and a healthy dose of focus have paid off for both Oliveira and Poirier.
Oliveira, who is the current UFC lightweight champion, began his UFC run with a record of 10-8 (one no contest).
During that 19-fight run, Oliveira found himself tagged as a “quitter,” something Michael Chandler referenced in the lead up to their May fight for the vacant lightweight crown.
“I also was alluding to the fact, you look at the Paul Felder fight, he tapped due to strikes,” Chandler said. “You look at numerous fights, he just kind of goes…if he can’t impose his will on you, there comes a point he looks at you and decides, ‘OK, you’ve won this one. I’m done. I’m gonna go collect half a paycheck, and I’m gonna go home.’
It needs to be noted that the Felder fight took place in 2017 and Oliveira has won nine straight fights since that setback. There’s also the fact that Oliveira did not quit when he faced Chandler. In fact, Oliveira rallied from being almost out of the fight in the first round to score a knockout win early in the second stanza.
At best, the idea that Oliveira is a quitter is outdated.
As for Poirier, while his record early in his career was better than Oliveira’s, he was marked as a fighter who could get close to the top, but always fell short in high-stakes matchups. Stoppage losses to Conor McGregor and Michael Johnson loomed large on Poirier’s resume, but a five-fight unbeaten streak and a win over Max Holloway for the interim lightweight title went a long way toward cutting the “also ran” tag from around Poirier’s ankle.
Yes, Khabib Nurmagomedov overwhelmed Poirier in their 2019 title unification bout, but Poirier bounced back from that loss with a decision win over Dan Hooker and two TKO victories over Conor McGregor.
Currently the No. 1 ranked fighter in the UFC lightweight division, Poirier has left any doubts about his talent as a fighter in the past.
Barring a draw, there will be a loser in this fight — at least on the official record — but to look at what these two have accomplished over the course of their long and noteworthy careers and paint either man with the brush of failure would be wildly and wholly inaccurate.