Insatiable hunger: Dustin Poirier is consumed by his grueling quest for a UFC title belt (Yahoo! Sports)


People who commute to work each day and punch a time clock eight hours apart can't possibly understand Dustin Poirier.

They can't understand what drives him, what's caused him to push aside friendships and any semblance of a normal personal life to pursue a dream of a mixed marital arts world title.

It's hard for anyone who works for a living to grasp why someone would say, as Poirier has, that the most peaceful place in the world is standing across from another man inside of a locked cage.

Poirier's pursuit of a UFC championship has consumed his life, and it will resume on Saturday when he meets Cub Swanson in the co-main event of UFC on Fuel 7 at Wembley Arena in London.

Poirier took the fight on less than a month's notice, when Dennis Siver had to pull out with an injury. He weighed 173 pounds at the time and had to get down to 146 by Friday's weigh-in.

Millions of dollars a year are made in the weight-loss industry, as Americans increasingly pack on the pounds and then struggle unsuccessfully to melt them away.

Poirier once was one of them. He was a 200-pounder with an affinity for ice cream, as well as a bad attitude that had landed him in trouble throughout his school years and put him on a path to much worse.

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"I'm really fortunate that I found MMA," said Poirier, who was featured in the 2012 documentary "Fightville."

"I needed this in my life," he said. "It's given me a discipline and a focus I didn't have before."

The film took a look at the MMA scene in Louisiana, where Poirier became a local star. It portrays Poirier as the highly talented, driven prospect who is willing to do anything to make it to the big time, while it showcases the gifted Albert Stainback as wavering on his commitment to compete.

Poirier finally made what the film refers to as "the big time" in 2010, when he was signed to fight for the Zuffa-owned World Extreme Cagefighting. He went 1-1 in two WEC fights before the organization was folded into the UFC.

He's 13-2 overall and 6-2 in the UFC/WEC. He's become one of the UFC's top featherweights, though a fourth-round submission loss in a Fight of the Year bout to Chan Sung Jung, the Korean Zombie, temporarily derailed his title aspirations.

It was a sensational battle that ranks not only as 2012's best fight but among the greatest in UFC history. That's of little consolation to Poirier, who did some soul-searching in the aftermath of the defeat.

Losing is a part of the business, but Poirier isn't wired to lose. He was born and raised in Louisiana and was as much of a fixture there as crawfish and jambalaya.

Poirier had a great relationship with his coach, ex-UFC fighter Tim Credeur, but finally came to the conclusion that to continue to improve, he had to pack up and leave.

And so, almost on the spur of the moment, he approached his wife, Jolie, and told her they needed to move to Florida so he could train with the vaunted American Top Team.

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"I'm lucky to have the kind of wife I do because she understood completely why we had to do that," Poirier said. "Picking up and moving like that is always hard, but I think I'd kind of gone as far as I was going to go. I needed to find some better [sparring partners] who could push me and help me to get better.

"Getting to ATT has been exactly what I needed. It's worked out exactly as I'd hoped."

Poirier made weight Friday, coming in at the featherweight limit of 145. It was a tough cut, as all weight cuts are, but dropping 28 pounds in three weeks, as he did, is all part of the business.

It's a part, though, that most fans don't grasp. The average person, Poirier said, can't begin to understand what the elite fighters have to give up in order to pursue their dreams of MMA greatness.

Everything in his life, from the moment he wakes up until the time he slips into bed, is planned to help him reach the goal of becoming the best fighter in the world.

That sacrifice of everyday pleasures is the reason that fighters often get emotional in the cage after a significant win.

"I'm a fighter and this is the lifestyle I chose for myself," he said. "Sometimes there are things I miss out on that I would have liked to have been able to do, but if you want to be the best, that's the thing you have to accept.

"It's not easy, but you have to decide what is most important. For me, there was no other answer. This is my life."

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