The former UFC interim lightweight titleholder doesn’t see a lack of heart or grit in Oliveira (31-8 MMA, 19-8 UFC) ahead of their championship bout in the main event of UFC 269 on Dec. 11 in Las Vegas.
Unlike recent criticism by top contender Justin Gaethje, Poirier (28-6 MMA, 20-5 UFC) feels the Brazilian has earned his tough man stripes and has proved he can overcome adversity. However, that doesn’t mean Poirier is not interested in putting Oliveira to the test.
“I would love to for the fight to reach that point where we all find out in front of the world,” Poirier told MMA Junkie. “That’s the goal of mine to get this fight into those deep waters and see who really wants it more, see who is willing to bleed more and leave it all out there because I know I will. No question about it.
“But going to what Justin (Gaethje) said, Dude, I’ve said this. I’m saying the same sh*t over and over again and it feels corny, but when a fighter goes out there – where our last fight is the most important – and he got hurt, came back the second round, and showed championship grit and finished Michael Chandler, a guy who just took Justin to the to hell. So if that says anything, you know, you’re as good as your last fight. He’s a world champion.”
Oliveira claimed the vacant UFC lightweight title from Michael Chandler in May. The championship win extended his winning streak to nine in a row.
Yet, despite the impressive run, Poirier feels Oliveira is underestimated, by many and that’s a mistake the Louisiana native refuses to make.
“Yeah, man, I don’t like that and I don’t want to get caught up in that mindset,” Poirier said. “A fight is a fight and this guy is very dangerous. He has so many finishes in the UFC, so much experience. And I’m not putting that aside. This is a huge fight for him, for his legacy, for me, and for my legacy.
“All the experience throughout our whole career has built up to this fight, you know. The guy is very dangerous and very capable. And yeah, that’s all I got to say. I respect his journey to get where he’s at, to be the undisputed champ because I have a similar one.”