Former interim lightweight champion Poirier takes on Oliveira for the undisputed title in Las Vegas, marking his second chance to become the 155lbs division’s true king.
After claiming the interim title in April 2019, Poirier failed to unify the belts when he faced then-undisputed champion Khabib Nurmagomedov in September of the same year.
This weekend, he will have another chance to secure the only obvious accolade to elude him in mixed martial arts.
“If I become world champion Saturday night, I’ve done it all in this sport – everything I’ve set out to do,” the American told media on Wednesday.
“I’ve set my family up, we’re in a good position financially. [I have] other businesses outside of fighting going on.
“I have to check that box [of becoming undisputed champion]. That’s forever.
“I [used to say] 25 minutes to make life fair. This is 25 minutes for eternity, 25 until eternity. That’s what this is. You don’t take that away. Once a champion, always a champion.”
Since losing his unification bout with Nurmagomedov, Poirier has won three fights in a row. The 32-year-old outpointed Dan Hooker in June 2020 in a fight of the year contender, before knocking out Conor McGregor this January and beating the Irishman again in July – when McGregor suffered a broken leg at the end of the first round.
“It’s very important for me and my wife [that I become undisputed champion],” Poirier continued. “None of this was done in vein, regardless of what happens Saturday night, but it just cements everything.
“I have to perform Saturday night and get that belt and then we’ll take it from there. Sitting here thinking about it, [I would] probably defend the belt.
“I do believe one day I’m going to fight at 170lbs in the UFC. I’m not sure if I’m going to make a title run, a career run, but I’m 32. I’ll be 33 next month, I still feel good, I’m injury free.
“I feel healthy, so I can continue to do this as long as my body allows me and I feel good, but the goal is just to put that ‘world champion’ next to my name and cement that in history. That’s all I’m really focused on.”
Many fans and pundits previously questioned the heart and grit of current lightweight champion Oliveira, though the Brazilian seemed to answer those questions in May when he won the world title vacated by Nurmagomedov.
After nearly being finished late in the first round against Michael Chandler, Oliveira knocked out the American early in the second round to claim the belt and extend his win streak to nine in a row – eight of those victories coming via finishes.
“If it’s in there, we’ll find out,” Poirier said when asked if he thinks there is any quit in Oliveira. “But I can’t bank on that; he showed grit in his last fight, against Chandler.
“He got hurt, almost got finished, came back and knocked the guy out. Your last fight is the one I go off of, and he showed championship grit.
“I’ve been watching that guy a long time. We’ve both been in the same waters [featherweight and lightweight] for the last decade in the UFC. There’s a list of guys... when they won the belt, it was really special to me, and he’s on that list. [Michael] Bisping’s on that list, Robbie Lawler’s on that list – underdogs.
“Of course everybody’s fighting against adversity, but the guys who were counted out a couple times and made it happen... I’m trying to add my name to that list. That’s the goal here this weekend.”
Poirier acknowledged the threat posed by Oliveira, particularly in grappling exchanges, with a remarkable 19 of the Brazilian’s 31 wins having come via submission.
“He’s as dangerous as any of the other top guys I’ve fought, just in different areas,” Poirier said. “His submission game... numbers don’t lie. He is the most dangerous ever to hit the canvas in the UFC.
“We didn’t put that aside in training camp; we really focused on the fence and fight IQ on the ground, where I’m at in the rounds, and risks I need to take.”
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