Company: ZUFFA, LLC – LAS VEGAS
Conference Title: Dustin Poirier UFC 242 Conference Call Conference ID: 1018283-1-0
Moderator: Chris Costello
Date: August 27, 2019
Operator: Good day everyone and welcome to the Dustin Poirier UFC 242 Media Conference. Today’s call is being recorded. At this time, I’d like to turn the conference over to Chris Costello, senior director of public relations. Please go ahead.
Chris Costello: Thanks much, April. Want to welcome everyone to the first of two UFC 242 media conference calls. UFC 242 takes place Saturday, September 7, from The Arena in Abu Dhabi. The event airs live on pay-per-view. Main card kicks off at 10 pm local time, 2 pm Eastern Daylight Time, 11 am out in the West.
Today’s call will feature UFC interim lightweight champion, Dustin Poirier, who will be fighting unbeaten division champion, Khabib Nurmagomedov, for the undisputed lightweight championship in the main event. The second media conference call featuring Khabib, will take place later in the week. We’ll keep everyone posted on that. And with that, we can open up for questions for Dustin.
Operator: Thank you. If you would like to ask a question, simply press the star key followed by the digit 1 on your telephone keypad. Also, if you’re using a speakerphone, please make sure your mute function is turned off to allow your signal to reach our equipment. Once again, press Star 1 at this time. We’ll pause for a moment. And we’ll first hear from Heidi Fang of Las Vegas Review Journal.
Heidi Fang: Hello. Thank you for the time. Dustin, obviously you had a big moment there getting past Max Holloway to get the interim belt, but what would it mean to you, not just to have the undisputed title, but to defeat a man like Khabib that nobody has been able to figure out.
Dustin Poirier: It means everything to me. How many times in our lives or in our careers do we have a chance to really do something great? These guys are building an arena for us to compete in. I’m traveling across the world in the biggest fight that I can get possible and going out there to do something that’s never been done.
I have an opportunity for greatness, and I’m approaching it that way, and I’m very excited about all of this. I can’t wait honestly. I’m very anxious to get the fight week rolling.
Heidi Fang: It’s taken you over like 35 to finally get to this point in your career. When you reflect on like what it’s taken for you to get to this point, what would you say was the biggest step in and making this happen? Was it changing camp? Was it changing weight classes? What was the moment for you, the catalyst?
Dustin Poirier: I think the biggest thing is consistency and self-belief, honestly. Showing up every day, whether the day before was good or bad, staying true to the path of being the best fighter that I can push myself and evolve into. I think self-belief and consistency is what’s got me here.
Heidi Fang: Last thing for me. How much does Khabib’s one year layoff kind of serve to your advantage, the fact that he’s been gone for a while and that you’ve been, you know, rolling?
Dustin Poirier: I think that’s more of an individual thing. Everybody is different. You know, recently we’ve seen Nate Diaz come back and beat Anthony Pettis. Anthony has been pretty active and Nate hasn’t fought in three years. Ring rust is a thing people toss around, a word people toss around, but I think it’s more individualized.
It depends how hard you’re working in the gym and how focused you are and how ready to compete you are, and I believe Khabib is one of the guys who works year round and is always working on his craft. I think he’s going to be the best he’s ever been come September 7.
Heidi Fang: Thank you, Dustin.
Dustin Poirier: Thanks.
Operator: And next we’ll hear from Damon Martin of MMAfighting.com.
Damon Martin: Hey, Dustin. First question would be, you showed a lot of confidence going into this fight. You said openly, you believe you will finish Khabib Nurmagomedov. And I feel like the mental side of this fight is so big. How big is that for you in terms of being mentally prepared? When you’ve seen – I think we have to imagine, some guys have gone into a fight with Khabib, kind of mentally broken already.
Dustin Poirier: Yes. Fighting is – people don’t talk a whole lot about the mental side of fighting, but I think mentally fighting is – the mental part of fighting is a huge part that matters and that some fighters focus on, but a lot of people kind of don’t talk about it. My whole career, the ups, the downs, the victories, the defeats, the lessons I’ve learned and kept rolling, that’s what’s made me the fighter I am today. It’s a constant evolution.
I’ve had to go through the fights that I’ve been through to be the person I am now, and I’m just confident in my skills, my ability, the work that I’m putting in, my commitment to martial arts, my commitment to just getting in there and letting it all go. I’m confident in that.
I can trust myself that when I get in there and they lock that door for 25 minutes, that I’m the better fighter, and I’m in there to win, and that I’m going to find an opening, or make an opening, and be the victor here.
Damon Martin: You’re going into this fight as the underdog, and you’ve kind of embraced that role. Some fighters almost take it as an insult when they’re seen as an underdog going into a fight, but you’ve kind of embraced it. Do you feel like that’s just a huge part of what makes you the fighter you are? You have kind of embraced that underdog role going into so many of your fights.
Dustin Poirier: For sure. I’ve been counted out a lot of times, and at this point in my career, this is just another fight. People are counting me out once again, and for a good reason, right? The guy’s undefeated. We’re traveling across the world into a place where we would say he’s more favored there, but I’m embracing this.
I’m going to go out there and do what hasn’t been done and put a loss on Khabib’s record for all the underdogs across the world. I’m going to show everyone that if you believe, if you work hard enough, if you’re focused enough, if you’re determined enough, in that 25 minutes you can be great, and that’s what I was just talking about.
I have a real opportunity to be great with everyone watching, and do something that’s never been done, and I will not let this slip through my fingers.
Damon Martin: A big part of Khabib’s game, as we know beyond the takedowns that we’ve seen in so many of his fights, he likes to talk to his opponents during the fight. It’s almost like he’s kind of mentally badgering them in a way during the fights.
Has that been something you guys have prepared for down in American Top Team? Like have you had guys actually like trash talk you during training sessions, or anything, because that is such a weird aspect of fighting a guy like Khabib.
Dustin Poirier: No. That kind of stuff doesn’t bother me. I’m going to be talking shit too.
Damon Martin: And my last question, Dustin. It’s so impossibly tough to look past anything beyond this fight, but I have to ask you, if you become champion, everything goes well, you know, next week at UFC 242. In your mind, who do you believe is the number one contender for that shot at the title? Is it Tony Ferguson?
I know Conor McGregor said he’s coming back. In your mind, just as an opinion, who do you believe is the number one guy to we get the winner between you and Khabib?
Dustin Poirier: 100% it’s Tony Ferguson, without a second guess. Without any argument, it’s Tony Ferguson, no doubt. But I don’t even – honestly, I don’t think about that type of stuff, because 25 minutes with Khabib is all I can focus on right now. I can’t disrespect the work that needs to be done September 7.
Damon Martin: Absolutely. Thank you, Dustin.
Dustin Poirier: Thank you, brother.
Operator: Next we’ll hear from Matt Cole of Art Voice.
Matt Cole: Hey Dustin, Matt Cole with Art Voice. Can you guys hear me okay?
Dustin Poirier: Yes.
Matt Cole: Okay. Question for you. So obviously, there’s no question, you’re with a fantastic camp, but how are you guys – particularly from here out, how do you guys prepare differently, as much as you’re willing to pull the curtain back a little bit for us, fighting in Abu Dhabi, as opposed to say Vegas? You know, long flight, different types of food, possibly valid to you, the climate is different. How does that affect your preparation?
Dustin Poirier: You know, I’ve been doing a few different workouts here in this camp. I’ve got out under the sun and done a lot of sprint work and a lot of stadium work, and a lot of hard pushes directly under the sun. Not that we’re fighting outdoors, but just to get my body in that heat.
As far as the time change, we’re leaving nine days ahead of the fight. I think that’s going to be plenty of time. And I’m also bringing a nutritionist, a chef with me. He’s been in camp the last two weeks, and I’m flying them out to Abu Dhabi with us. I got my housing set up there with a full kitchen. So I’m just taking a lot of guesswork out, and I’m going to have my team with me. We’re pre-planning for all those challenges that come with the food and spices and the time change. We’re just trying to combat those things the best we can.
Matt Cole: Cool. Thank you. One quick question to follow up. I don’t know if this is for you or not, but any word why Khabib is not on the call?
Dustin Poirier: I mean, I have no clue. I don’t know.
Chris Costello: Matt, this is Chris. We’re doing both fighters separately, and Khabib will be later in the week.
Matt Cole: Okay. Thank you.
Chris Costello: You bet.
Operator: Once again, if you’d like to ask a question or make a comment, press Star 1 at this time. Next we’ll hear from Steven Marrocco of MMA Junkie.
Steven Marrocco: Hey Dustin, how is it going? Quick question. Is there a backup plan if Khabib doesn’t make weight?
Dustin Poirier: Damn. Honestly, I haven’t even thought about that. Has he missed before?
Steven Marrocco: Well, he’s had issues before, but I guess what I’m asking is, you know, the UFC has taken steps in the past to put somebody on standby. And at one point, Dana, said that Conor could do it. Obviously he’s got a broken hand now. So I don’t think that’s happening. But I’m just curious if you’re aware of that at all. I’m not saying anything. I’m just wondering if you are aware if there is a backup plan at all.
Dustin Poirier: No. I haven’t been told anything. And honestly, I didn’t even think about him missing weight until you just said that. I try not to focus on the negative stuff like that, but I guess that is a possibility. Like you said, he had trouble in the past, but I’m not sure if he’s missed or not before. But I’ll tell you what, I’ll be at 155 pounds, ready to fight September 7.
Steven Marrocco: Yes. Not meaning to imply anything. Just curious if there was any sort of plan, general plan in place. You mentioned that he’s favored in that part of the world. Do you mean that when you come in, you expect to be booed?
Dustin Poirier: I think I’m going to have fans there as well, but I wouldn’t be surprised if I was booed, you know.
Steven Marrocco: I guess what I’m asking, do you think it’s a factor in the fight?
Dustin Poirier: No, not at all. I’ve been booed and championed against and counted out my whole life. So I’m the champ.
Steven Marrocco: What’s the weirdest message you’ve got from a Khabib fan in the lead up to this fight?
Dustin Poirier: I don’t know, man. They’re all pretty strange, honestly.
Steven Marrocco: Why is that?
Dustin Poirier: Because it’s – most of it is broken English. So, they’re using some translator to talk shit to me, and it’s – you can tell, the stuff doesn’t make sense. Yea. Unless they can get in there and scrap for him, their words are falling on deaf ears, man.
Steven Marrocco: Has it made your skin any thicker?
Dustin Poirier: I mean, dude, the fights that I’ve been part of and the guys that I’ve fought at this point, my skin is – those things don’t get through. I don’t listen to criticism from anyone, unless I would take advice from them. So unless you’re part of my camp, part of my family, part of something that I respect and believe your word, and we’re on the same level, or you’re inside of my circle, I don’t take advice from anyone.
Steven Marrocco: So speaking of advice, how important has it been to you to have a close-knit group of coaches in the build up to this fight?
Dustin Poirier: It’s been great, man, and I’m really hitting a stride in my career, and these guys have been part of that growth, you know. I went to American Top Team back in 2012, and here we are in a champion versus champion fight about to unify the belts. These guys have been there the whole way and have helped me and directed me and tightened up a lot of parts of my game.
Like I was saying, those guys that are in my circle, those guys that are in my corner, are people that I respect their word, and I really care for. We’re like a family. It’s not just my corner men and my team. These guys are part of this journey with me forever.
Steven Marrocco: Got you. Thank you so, Dustin. Appreciate it.
Dustin Poirier: Thanks.
Operator: Next we’ll hear from Euan Megson of Action Global Communications.
Euan Megson: Thank you. Hey Dustin. Abu Dhabi has a bit of a reputation now because of its support for Jiu-Jitsu around the world as well. It supports a lot of the World Series. What do you know about Abu Dhabi’s reputation for combat sports? And I suppose, what is your sort of impression of coming to Abu Dhabi for the Emirates third UFC event?
Dustin Poirier: I’m excited to be part of this show, to be headlining this show. Like I said earlier, this is a monumental fight in my career and in mixed martial arts history. They’re building an arena for me to compete in. It’s just amazing, man. I love the story. I love the path that I had to take to get here.
And as far as Abu Dhabi’s love for combat sports, I’ve been doing Jiu-Jitsu a long time. I’m a Black Belt in Jiu-Jitsu. I used to compete a lot in Jiu-Jitsu before I got into the WEC. I know that close friends of mine were getting offers to go out there.
I don’t know if they incorporated Jiu-Jitsu in the schooling systems there, but I know a lot of friends of mine were getting offers to go out there and coach and move their life permanently there for job opportunities. So, I know they have a strong connection with Jiu-Jitsu out in Abu Dhabi.
Euan Megson: Great. Thank you.
Operator: Next we’ll hear from Igor Lazorin of TASS.
Igor Lazorin: Thanks. Hello guys. I’m from Russia. The question from Russia, hi Dustin. What about your grappling? Are you ready to fight downstairs with Khabib and what do you think about his grappling, about his level of fighting? Thank you.
Dustin Poirier: I think his top game is very strong, obviously. You know, 27 have tried and 27 have failed. He’s been able to dominate them on top with his wrestling pressure, his weight distribution, his understanding of techniques. but I feel confident in my grappling as well, and my goal is to make this a fight and not a grappling match.
So yes, that’s where I’m at with that. I’ve been doing Jiu-Jitsu and wrestling a long time, and I feel like I can compete with anyone in the world.
Igor Lazorin: Thank you, Dustin. Good luck.
Dustin Poirier: Thank you.
Operator: Percy Crawford, The Hype Magazine.
Percy Crawford: Hey Dustin, what’s up my man?
Dustin Poirier: What’s up, man?
Percy Crawford: You recently tweeted – I’m good, bro. You recently tweeted a message from your daughter, and it just seems like anytime I see fighters have kids, and it seems like your purpose is more. You’re saying you’re bringing it home to her. How much has having a kid, changed your
mentality, your approach to the fight game? And I don’t want to say added pressure, but added motive for you to always excel?
Dustin Poirier: Yes, for sure it’s motivation, I have another mouth to feed. I want her to be taken care of in the future. I want her college to be paid for. I want for her to have opportunities I didn’t have, and I can do that with my hands. I can do that with my dedication and focus to combat sports. And that’s a blessing to have these opportunities, and to be healthy, and chase this dream that I’m running after.
But it just puts – honestly, it puts fighting into perspective for me. Before I had my daughter, everything about me was fighting. That’s what I – and it is still that a lot to this day, that’s how I make a living and that’s my life’s work is mixed martial arts.
But at the end of the day, it’s just a fight, and no matter what happens in any fight that I’m involved in, I’m still a dad when I get home, and that kind of helps take the pressure off of fighting for me. I’m always going to be this girl’s dad, and she’s always going to be waiting for me, win, lose or draw. It’s helped me out a lot. It’s put fighting into perspective.
Percy Crawford: When you – I mean, you’re a small town kid from Louisiana. I’m a Louisiana native. When you think of the concept of arenas being built for you to fight in, when do you feel like that moment will hit you? Do you feel like when you’re taking that walk to your locker room, when you’re walking out to the cage? When will it really fit in? And have you even wrapped your mind around it?
Dustin Poirier: Man, that’s tough to say. I haven’t really wrapped my mind around it. Maybe it’ll hit me when I’m flying home with the belt the day after the fight. I don’t know. I know that I’m going to be in the moment and be enjoying every second of this opportunity.
I’m a kid from Louisiana who used to fight in rodeo arenas, you know what I mean? With 300 people in there watching two guys fight mixed martial arts, and here I am about to travel to Abu Dhabi, where they’re building an arena for me to headline, getting a pay-per-view push.
Dreams come true, man. If you work your ass off and chase your dreams, you can do whatever you set out to do and right now I’m set out to defeat Khabib Nurmagomedov, September 7.
Percy Crawford: Before I let you get, man, I know you’re in the middle of camp. I know you and DC are close. Daniel not only suffered a loss with losing his title, but lost his dad as well. Have you been able to reach out to him and kind of give him words of encouragement?
Dustin Poirier: Yes. I reached out to him. I didn’t want to say too much, but he responded immediately. Daniel is my friend, he’s a good guy, but life is rough sometimes. Now when it rains, it pours sometimes, and as long as he keeps his head high, he’s – once a champion, always a champion, you know? He’s done a lot in his career, man. He has a lot to be proud of.
Percy Crawford: Appreciate the time, man. Good luck, Dustin.
Dustin Poirier: Thank you, sir.
Operator: Next we’ll hear from Jeffrey Harris, 411Mania MMA.
Jeffrey Harris: Good afternoon, Dustin. Thank you for joining us today. We’re just one month – in one month, it’ll be five years since that loss to Conor McGregor. Can you take us back to that night and how it felt, because that was a really huge fight for you? I think you were like top five featherweight in the world at the time, and just how far you’ve come.
I mean, just look at how far you’ve come. You’re in a title fight now. You’re the interim champion. But what was it like that night and having to, you know, start back at square one going from there?
Dustin Poirier: You know, man, losing sucks, but it’s part of my destiny. Everything happens for a reason, and there was lessons I needed to learn, and it helped me grow as a fighter. Every loss I’ve taken has helped me grow as a fighter. Even victories. All the victories have helped me grow.
I’m constantly evolving, not just inside the Octagon, but in life in general. Just always trying to improve, always trying to get better, and be a better fighter and a better person, but that loss had to happen. That was part of my destiny. That’s what was written and here we are today.
Jeffrey Harris: Now, when I look back at your career, you’ve never had it easy in the UFC. You have scratched and clawed for everything you have. So in your opinion, does that make it better for you that you’ve had to work as hard as you have to get to this huge title fight with Khabib?
Dustin Poirier: Yes, man. It’s all I know. So it makes it – the journey to get here was so rocky, and it makes it so much sweeter. Beating Max in Atlanta, it felt right. It didn’t feel like an opportunity that slipped into my hands, or I didn’t feel like I was given a chance.
I was being counted out that fight as well and I take pride in that. I take pride in being the underdog in this one, and showing everybody what dedication and self-belief can get you, man. I want everybody to chase their dreams and take chances.
Jeffrey Harris: By the way, Dustin, this is not to make you upset or anything, but Khabib has missed weight. He missed weight once, but it was in 2013, and I don’t think he’s ever missed weight for a title fight before. So there’s that at least. And that’s all I have. Thanks, Dustin.
Dustin Poirier: Nice. Yes. I don’t try to think about the negative stuff.
Operator: And our final question for today will come from Harry Kettle of Fightful MMA.
Harry Kettle: Evening, guys. Dustin, you spoke about tightening up parts of your game. And obviously the instinct for a lot of people is that you’re going to be working on your takedown defense. How difficult or how easy has it been to manage that alongside all the other elements of your training?
Dustin Poirier: Honestly, man, I have a great team in place. So, getting the right training partners and getting on the right schedule and getting pushed has been no problem at all. But honestly, this camp has been the most grinding training camp that I can remember having, and this is my 41st mixed martial arts fight.
it’s just, the style of camp this was, you know, every day wrestling, every day guys trying to submit you, hold you down every day, it’s almost like every day was a strength to conditioning session with these techniques, and with these guys trying to hold me down. It was a constant scramble, but I believe that that’s why I’m in the best shape that I’ve ever been in my life heading into this fight.
Harry Kettle: And finally, have you allowed yourself to picture that precise moment of unifying the belts, becoming the undisputed champion? Or have you had your team in place to kind of bring you back down to earth and make you kind of look at the task in front of you first?
Dustin Poirier: No. When I lay down in bed at night, I envision myself getting the belt wrapped around me once again and being the undisputed world champion and flying back to America with my wife, and that makes me feel good. My team knows the kind of work ethic I have and how dedicated I am to my craft. Nobody has to bring me back down. This is what I do.
Operator: Was there anything further, Harry?
Harry Kettle: No, no. That’s everything.
Operator: And now at this time, I’d like to turn the conference back over to Chris for any additional or closing comments.
Chris Costello: Thanks, April. I want to thank Dustin and everyone for joining today’s call. The UFC 242 PR scheduled events will be announced at the end of the week. We’ll keep everyone posted on the next UFC 242 media call. Everyone, please have a great rest of the day. Thank you.
Dustin Poirier: Thanks. You too.
Operator: That does conclude today’s conference. Thank you all for your participation. You may now disconnect.