UFC 242, Dustin's Diaries: Peaking in camp, grading sparring days, hate from Khabib fans

Interim UFC lightweight champion Dustin Poirier blogs for MMA Junkie each week on the road to his UFC 242 title unification bout with Khabib Nurmagomedov, which takes place Sept. 7 at The Arena in Yas Island, Abu Dhabi.

In the third edition of “Dustin’s Diaries,” Poirier (25-5 MMA, 17-4 UFC) discusses the jump of training camp intensity, his approach to sparring sessions for Nurmagomedov (27-0 MMA, 11-0 UFC) and dealing with online criticism from fans.

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Special fight feels

After this camp I really feel like I’m going to be the best I’ve ever been. I’m going to show the world the fighter I am, and honestly I’m embracing this whole journey. I have the opportunity to go out there and do something great, do something special. I get to be the first to beat Khabib and to me the whole lead-up to this fight, with them building the arena and me flying across the world and fighting a guy who’s never been defeated, it feels like something special. I have an opportunity to do something great, and I won’t let it slip through my fingers. I’m preparing myself to accomplish this goal.

The intensity of each training session is really focused. I’m trying to do exactly what I want to do in the fight and keep focused from bell to bell every round. I’m pushing myself to the limit in every way I can. I’m challenging myself, putting myself in bad positions on purpose every day and in every session. When I’m in the gym, I’m being the best I can be and preparing myself for the best fight I can put.

Sparring days

When I’m in training camp I only spar during the last five weeks of camp. That’s what my last few training camps have been. This camp is so much grappling and so much small glove work that I haven’t been actually putting on 16-ounce gloves and sparring as much as I normally do, as much as I did for the Max Holloway fight. We knew that fight was going to be a kickboxing match. Obviously we know this fight is going to have some kickboxing in it, but it’s going to be more of a grappling match, more of a wrestling match.

For sparring sessions, it depends on my opponent and what I’m trying to do that day. I keep notes about what I want to accomplish or try to not let happen what I think might happen in the fight. I’m training for a specific person and a specific style of fighter, so of course I’m working on my takedown defense, I’m working on certain defenses in top positions and riding positions. My foot placements, so much stuff. Before I take off to go sparring I’ll go look at a piece of paper where I have everything written down and make mental notes of everything and carry that with me into the gym that day and at the end of it I grade myself on that.

‘My self-belief is stronger than their doubt’

I definitely notice the negative comments on Twitter and Instagram more so than my last few fights. I’m just lucky I’m at a place where that stuff doesn’t bother me anymore. At the beginning of my career I read everything. When somebody said something I would think about it, but I didn’t understand that people were dumb yet. Now that stuff doesn’t bother me. Those are just opinions.

I see that stuff, and some of it makes me smile, some of it is pretty crazy. But I’m the man in the arena. I’m the one who is in there and going to make history. I’m the only one who needs to believe in me. With that belief I can become the best lightweight to ever fight.

I’m confident in my abilities. I’m going in there to do something that’s never been done. Khabib has never been beaten, so I can see why people say stuff like, ‘Oh man, this is a really tough fight.’ It’s never been done. It seems impossible until it’s been done. A lot of things throughout history are like that. I’m going to show the world that this guy bleeds, this guy feels pain, this guy makes mistakes, and I’m going to show I’m the best.

2 days ago

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