Losing in any sport is tough. But in fighting, a loss can be devastating - there is no one to blame and it can take you to a bad place where you get down on yourself and create doubt where none existed before.
After racking up four-straight wins and rapidly climbing the lightweight charts, Dustin Poirier found himself in that dark place after his loss to Michael Johnson via first-round KO on Sept. 17, 2016.
But on the eve of his fight against Jim Miller at UFC 208 this Saturday night, Poirier has made the changes he feels necessary to find the winning feeling again.
“I was disappointed in myself for putting myself in a position for that to happen and making the wrong moves in the fight,” Poirier said of his mindset after his last fight. “But that’s fighting, pick yourself up and get back to work. I’m a fighter.
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“I’m anxious and excited (to get back). I just want to get my hand raised. I want to win by any means – that’s the goal, that’s the plan. My whole training camp was directed around being more defensively responsible, working on my movement and my awareness. I really feel like a different fighter coming into this fight.”
So what is so different this time around? Poirier is taking the emotion out of his upcoming fight against Miller.
As crazy as it sounds, with fighting in its purest form causing all forms of emotion for the combatants and viewers alike, the Lafayette, LA, native and owner of a 20-5 professional record sees this approach as the key to success for this weekend and beyond.
“A street fight is emotional – you just do it. This isn’t a street fight,” Poirier said. “You prepare for months and I need to keep it fun for me in my head. You’ll see. (I need to) be patient, pick my shots, fight a smart fight and not get emotional. Use my skill, my preparation and who I am as a fighter. I don’t need to overthink it; I just need to have fun.”
Easier said than done against Miller, the owner of a 28-8 professional mark who rides into Brooklyn’s Barclays Center on a three-fight winning streak and with 10 first round finishes to his credit. Poirier acknowledges the tough task ahead of him, as he sees in Miller a fighter who shares similar qualities to himself: well-rounded fighter who can box, wrestle, throw in some jiu-jitsu, and battle anywhere inside the Octagon.
"The Diamond" @DustinPoirier returns to action this Saturday at #UFC208! Watch 12 of his best performances so far! https://t.co/lUUsD5USyY pic.twitter.com/EVa3lZnakz
— UFC Fight Pass (@UFCFightPass) February 6, 2017
But in order to keep hurtling towards his goal of a shot at the world championship down the road, Poirier knows he must get past Miller Saturday night, so he’s focused on a disciplined approach in order to get the victory.
“I have (brawling) in me, and I can always go back to that if I need to; if need be I can pull that out, and I’ll always have that ability to throw big shots. That’s what I’m fighting against myself to not let happen. I want to keep it technical, fight using technique, and be smart – use good footwork, use good head movement, throw straight punches, set up, set traps. Just be in the moment, that’s how I get it done.
“The goal is to beat Jim Miller, get my hand raised by any means, whether we finish him, grind him out, it doesn’t matter. A win is all that matters to me and then get home injury-free to my family – that’s first and foremost.”
Jorge Mondaca is managing editor of UFC.com. Follow him on Twitter at @JorgeAMondaca