Over the last 15 months, Dustin Poirier has gone from being a relatively unknown, late replacement fighter at UFC 125 to a standout name on the short list of featherwieght contenders. While such a rapid climb up the ranks might compel some to label the Lafayette, Louisiana, native an “overnight success,” proof of how Poirier got to this point in his career will soon be shown on the silver screen.
At 23 years old, Dustin “The Diamond” Poirier is a central figure in the critically acclaimed documentary Fightville, a film that gives a behind-the-scenes look at different elements of life on the regional MMA scene in Louisiana. Bringing his heart-felt story to the table, Poirier becomes impossible to take your eyes off as you see him winning fights and training under the watchful eye of UFC middleweight “Crazy” Tim Credeur at his gym Gladiators Academy of Lafayette. The troubled kid, who spent time in boot camps and juvenile detention centers, talks hopefully of one day making it to the next level, inspiring his mother to explain with teary eyes that her son has finally found his calling.
Ironically—spoiler alert—the film culminates with Poirier’s 57-second victory over Derek Gauthier in the Ringside MMA promotion in Montreal, his seventh and final win in the minor leagues, which came shortly after Poirier’s UFC dreams were put on hold.
“I tried out for [Season 12 of] The Ultimate Fighter,” explains the now 15-1 featherweight contender. “I thought that was my destiny: I’m going to get picked for The Ultimate Fighter, and I’m going to win it…and then I got cut. They flew me back out, and they cut me in Vegas, and it broke my heart. I thought it was my time. I really wanted to do this and show the world who I am as a fighter and a person.”
But Poirier has come to the realization that everything happens for a reason. A couple months later, he was called up to Canada to fight a guy who, he believes, Sean Shelby and the WEC were looking to sign at the time. Poirier knocked the competition out cold in the first round. “He was out for a while. I caught him with a hook. He was slipping a punch, and it just caught him on the chin, and put him out,” says Poirier.
The victory led to a fight in the WEC opposite Team Alpha Male lightweight Danny Castillo, a fight Poirier would go on to lose by unanimous decision. After a 13-month run produced seven wins in seven fights with seven finishes, the loss to Castillo forced the quietly charismatic young talent to question whether or not he was ready to compete in the major leagues of mixed martial arts.
Not only has he proven that he belongs, but Poirier has emerged as a force to be reckoned with ever since.
He rebounded from the loss to Castillo with a 53-second win on the penultimate WEC event before dropping to featherweight and upsetting Josh Grispi—the then top-ranked contender in the featherweight division on New Year’s Day last year. A decision win over British striker Jason Young followed five months later, and the buzz around Poirier grew louder.
In his last two outings, the hard-charging scrapper has shown off his submission skills, forcing Pablo Garza to tap out to a D’arce choke in the second round of their meeting at UFC on FOX in November, and then earning Submission of the Night honors for his first round, mounted triangle armbar finish of Max Holloway at UFC 143.
Gil Guillory, the promoter whose USA MMA organization serves as the main fighting stage throughout Fightville, questioned aloud in the film whether or not Poirier could reach such lofty heights. The hardened and honest promoter, who has seen plenty of hopefuls fizzle out long before reaching the big stage, offered a hopeful but hedged “potential” to answer his own question.
With his UFC winning streak extended to four, Poirier has climbed into contention in the featherweight ranks, his name becoming one of few mentioned as a possible opponent for dominant champion Jose Aldo. He is steadily exceeding the expectations of those who told him his dream of fighting in the UFC was crazy, and while Poirier is excited to be proving his doubters wrong, he remains loyally dedicated to the approach that helped him reach the UFC in the first place.
“A couple years ago, I was an amateur fighter. People knew I was serious because I was beating guys up around here, but I went from ‘Man, this guy’s pretty good’ to making this a career and putting my wife through college with it. This is a career —this isn’t just fighting and having fun. I know I worked hard to get here, and I have to work harder to stay here, and continue to get better. I’m just a hard worker, man. Hard work beats talent, and I feel like I’m hard working and talented.”
The fact that a film with Poirier as its most compelling character and its central story as his quest to fight in the UFC will come out a handful of days before he headlines a UFC event is a testament to his hard work and talent.
Less than two years after the cameras stopped rolling, the big dreams Poirier had back in Lafayette are coming true. But he still has one goal left to accomplish.
“I want to be a world champion. I truly believe in my heart that I’m going to be a world champion one day, and it happens in your mind and in your heart before it happens in the cage. Every fight, I’m going to be a better fighter, and I’m going to be a world champion.”
If the day comes when Dana White wraps gold around Poirier’s waist, the documentary star might become the lead character in another film, one complete with a Hollywood ending that’s written in the cage.
Be sure to check out Dustin’s next fight against “The Korean Zombie” Chan Sung Jung, May 15th on Fuel TV.
Name: DUSTIN POIRIER
Nick Name The Diamond
Record: 8 – 0 – 0
Class: Featherweight (145 lbs.)
Hometown: Lafayette, Louisiana, USA
Fighting out of: Lafayette, Louisiana, USA
Association: Gladiators Training Academy