Dustin Poirier left a recent UFC headliner with a sore neck, but if it weren’t for Mike Brown, he could’ve left with a loss too.
Earlier this month in UFC Fight Night 120’s headliner, Poirier (22-5 MMA, 14-4 UFC) picked up a big win after scoring a third-round TKO victory over former lightweight champion Anthony Pettis (20-7 MMA, 7-6 UFC).
However, to get the victory, which took place Nov. 11 and aired on FS1 from Ted Constant Convocation Center in Norfolk, Va., Poirier had to survive a few dangerous – and painful – submission attempts.
“My neck is a little sore from getting out of that last triangle,” he recently told MMAjunkie Radio. “He locked in a tight triangle. The tightest one of them all was maybe (with) 20 or 30 seconds left in the second round.
“There’s a pass I do to get out of the triangle and I throw my head toward the lock and kind of sprawl over the body and circle my feet around. And when I did that, the triangle was so tight that my neck got put in a crazy position and it popped.”
Of course, one triangle also came with a tad of controversy. As Pettis looked to secure the hold, the referee called a timeout to have a cageside physician look at the ex-champ’s badly bleeding face. The pause in action elicited some boos, though Poirier dismissed them.
“All those people who were upset probably live in Milwaukee or have an Anthony Pettis T-shirt,” he joked. “F*ck ’em, man.”
As for his ability to survive Pettis’ dangerous ground game, Poirier, who’s No. 11 in the USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie MMA lightweight rankings, thanks one man: American Top Team coach and former WEC champ Brown.
“I used to have more of a pure jiu-jitsu style, but since I’ve been at American Top Team, Mike Brown has helped me round out my grappling for MMA so much more,” Poirier said. “I’m more of a top guy now. I give up less positions chasing submissions, and he’s a guy who’s really dedicated and spent a lot of time perfecting the things I was doing wrong, and still to this day, (he’s) tightening up a lot of things.
“He’s an amazing coach and an amazing guy to have (in my corner).”
Following his victory, Poirier emphatically called for a rematch with another ex-champ, Eddie Alvarez (28-5 MMA, 3-2 UFC), who fought to a controversial no-contest in May. An immediate rematch wasn’t booked so that Alvarez could coach opposite Justin Gaethje on the currently airing 26th season of “The Ultimate Fighter.”
Still, Poirier hopes to get that fight someday – and bouts against other top contenders who can help him get to a title shot.
But getting the type of experience he did against Pettis – and with help from coaches like Brown – he’s confident he’s ready for more fights against the 155-pound division’s best.
“You know, (Pettis) is a vet,” Poirier said. “He’s been fighting a long time and fighting the best of the best, so I didn’t expect anything less from him.”
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