clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

‘The unknown scares me’ - Dustin Poirier opens up about fear, mental health

In our exclusive interview with Dustin Poirier, the former UFC interim lightweight champion touches on mental health, and divulges the techniques he uses to keep his mind right.

Dustin Poirier opens up about fear & mental health — ‘the unknown scares me’

The UFC’s former interim lightweight champion, Dustin “The Diamond” Poirier, just sat down for an exclusive interview with Bloody Elbow and ‘The Diamond’ touched on a number of subjects, both typical and controversial.

Mental toughness, courage, and determination are all qualities that were on display when Poirier rallied to submit Michael Chandler at UFC 281 last November. If you go back and watch the very end of the bout, you can see Dustin walking over to Michael (after he strangled him) to confess that he was in fact ‘scared’ to fight him. In our interview, Poirier opened up about the fear that he carries with him into his matches, and explains the ways in which it makes him better.

Poirier was also asked to speak on his mental toughness, and give us some techniques that he uses to keep his mind sharp. Dustin reveals how gratitude plays a huge role in his mental health, and how writing has been an effective way for him to keep himself in check. Towards the end of the interview, Poirier goes over his New Year’s resolutions, even though he claims to be one that typically doesn’t partake in such a thing.

Eddie Mercado: I love that you told Chandler that after your match that you were scared to fight him, in a respectful kind of way. I thought that was pretty cool. You don’t really see guys admitting that openly.

Dustin Poirier: I wear it on my sleeve, man. I’m not trying to, you know... I fought 30-times in Zuffa. People know I’m tough, and I get down, and I love to fight — but to say I’m not nervous, or. You see the word ‘scared’ you have to be careful using, but it’s just the unknown. No matter how prepared I am when I go in there, anything can happen. That’s what scares me, especially against guys who are that explosive, and that powerful. Anything can happen in there, and the unknown scares me, and especially against guys like I just said. I’m not ashamed to admit it. That’s what motivates me, that’s what gets me going, that’s what makes me bust my ass.

EM: I want to ask you about mental health a little bit. The life of a fight-life is not easy. You have to isolate yourself and sacrifice so much, so how do you stay positive through it all? What are some of the techniques you use to keep your mental health as strong as possible?

DP: I practice gratitude, you know. I write down things that I’m thankful for everyday, and I have so much to list. I’ve come a long way in my life. I’ve taken my family with me, some people with me. I’m giving back to the community where I’m from, and in a good position to be able to do all these things. My family’s healthy, my little girl is blossoming in first grade, and reading. I’m just thankful and grateful for everything I‘ve done, everything I worked for, just everything.

I think that’s a powerful thing to live your life in that way, and sometimes I get away from it. Sometimes I get away from it, but I feel like I need to get back to it. When I feel a certain way, I need to go back to writing gratitude in the morning. Taking some time out, and it’s just like checking yourself.

Especially with all the social media stuff, and all the negativity that’s floating around everywhere. It’s so easy to fall into that mind trap. Just trying to stay around positive people. That’s my New Year’s resolution, and I never do New Year’s resolutions. I’m not really that type of guy, but to protect my energy more this year. Not let people drain me of things that I have no control over. Not overextend myself. Focus more on me and my family. That’s what I want to do this year.


Poirier is an athlete that had to fight his way to the top, and once he got there, he used the spotlight to build his own personal brands. Utilizing some of the characteristics that made him a successful fighter (like mental toughness, courage, and determination), Dustin has been thriving in the hot sauce arena with Poirier’s Louisiana Hot Sauce, doing charitable work through his Good Fight Foundation, and has even locked in a sponsorship deal with Timex Watches.

About the author: Eddie Mercado has covered combat sports since 2015. He covers everything from betting odds to live events and fighter interviews. He holds a 1-0 record in pro MMA and holds a purple belt in Jiu-Jitsu. (full bio)