In the aftermath of his knockout win over Conor McGregor in the main event of UFC 257, Dustin Poirier said, “Fighting is just something I do at this point of my career.”
That succinct statement caught my attention. It made sense coming from Poirier, who began toiling in the lower levels of MMA in and around Louisiana in 2009 before he moved to the WEC in 2010.
The 32-year-old added that he was fighting for his family first and foremost, but what he said next was the most noteworthy thing Poirier explained during his time on the mic at the post-fight press conference.
“As many people as can benefit from me getting in there, I want to stack it up, stack the weight on my back and carry that in there with me. I want to give people a reason to cheer. I want to give people a reason to smile. That means a lot to me,” Poirier said.
Unlike some other fighters, most notably the man he knocked out in Abu Dhabi on January 24, Poirier doesn’t seem at all interested in the trappings of fame. You didn’t see him showing off a gaudy watch (or two) during fight week or lounging on the deck of a yacht or arriving to the fight in a Rolls Royce. No, instead you heard him talking about how much good a donation of $500,000 from McGregor Sports & Entertainment would do for his charity, ‘The Good Fight’.
That’s the sign of a mature, thoughtful and selfless individual. It’s also the sign of a confident man, who knows that fighting is just a small part of what he does and who he is.
Where other fighters talk about their legacy in the cage and adding to that legacy, Poirier is more interested in leaving a legacy outside the fighting surface.
Without saying it or bragging, Poirier knows he is now on the list of the best lightweights in UFC history. His certitude in his status allows him to focus on big picture things. One of his recent achievements was teaming up with Fight for The Forgotten and contributing new water wells and 43.21 acres of land and a solar powered water well for the Batwa Pygmy Tribe in Uganda. That’s the legacy Poirier wants to leave. That’s a lasting legacy, one that seems much more important to him than stacking up athletic accomplishments inside the cage.
Poirier knows fighting and his charity contributions are tied together, but he has reached the point in his life where fighting is a means to an end. Fighting in a cage is a job that enables him to make substantial and lasting changes in the lives of others. That’s what leaves a lasting legacy.
In a sport where so many people sacrifice relationships with family, friends and loved ones in the hopes of success, it’s refreshing to see someone like Poirier look outside of the gym and proclaim they will not be defined by their job, but rather by what they do outside of that job to help others.