Lightweight division still unclear after devastating Poirier loss

Dustin Poirier is still struggling to find a truly good run of form as his quick first round KO by fellow top-10 lightweight Michael Johnson leaves him adrift of the division’s real contenders.

Dustin ‘The Diamond’ Poirier was a perennial guy in the featherweight division, someone with good hands and submissions, and good enough wrestling to not be outclassed in any area. He was a big fighter for the division too, and had only lost to top contenders Cub Swanson and the ‘Korean Zombie’, Chan Sung Jung.

Conor McGregor changed Dustin’s outlook fast though, after the Irish star starched him in under two minutes. Suddenly he had no hype in the division, and the weight cut was proving to be a drain on his skills come fight night. Things were passing him by, so he made the decision to move up to lightweight.

It seemed a smart move, after he rattled off four straight wins including three KOs against some genuine opponents. But the hype that Poirier has managed to build for himself for a second time is gone again, after Michael Johnson found a home for a lightning fast right hand hook that floored Poirier. Once Dustin’s butt hit the mat, the fight was over- there was no chance of a recovery here.

Michael Johnson likes to boast that he has the fastest hands in the division. I for one am not going to disagree with him. Poirier has good stand-up, and had his hands in a decent defensive position when Johnson landed the shot. It’s just that Johnson’s punch was so fast, it didn’t really matter what Poirier was doing defensively. I had to watch the reply about four times to see it land- it was that quick.

So the hype train has made a full-180, and is now headed toward Michael ‘The Menace’ Johnson’s station. Johnson was super pumped-up after the fight, and even acted in an unsporting manner toward Poirier immediately after the KO, dancing about and taunting his fallen foe. He changed his tune quickly though, and apologised once the adrenaline had worn off. Poirier himself had talked a big game before the fight and was insulting toward Johnson at the weigh-in, so most fans understood Johnson’s annoyance. Anyhow, Johnson’s subsequent apology seems to have squashed any potential beef the two might have had.

Johnson looked in great shape in the fight and certainly has belief in his abilities. He has the potential to really make a dent in the division. Fans with longer memories already knew this of course, as he already holds wins over Joe Lauzon, and top contenders Edson Barboza and Tony Ferguson. They’re three really, really impressive wins. But a lot of fans have short memories, and after Johnson was outclassed in the striking department in his last fight by the rangey, technical boxing star Nate Diaz, many people had written him off.

Well now that looks a little premature. While Dustin Poirier will be going back to the drawing board and weighing up his next move, Michael Johnson is looking straight upward in the rankings, and he believes he should be getting a pairing with one of the division’s elite. With a win streak of just one, he might be getting a little ahead of himself, but it’s a damn good start for Johnson.

Laurie Williams

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