The phrase 'pressure makes diamonds' is best epitomized by Dustin Poirier. In a sport where athletes gain fame through talking big and making headlines, 'The Diamond' has attained glory the hard way. The top-ranked UFC lightweight, who is of Acadian French descent, has climbed the ladder of success by proving his skill fight after fight.
Dustin Glenn Poirier started his MMA career at the age of 20 and made his UFC debut in 2011. With a record of 27-6-1, he is considered one of the best lightweights in MMA, especially for his boxing skills.
So, does he come from an affluent background? How did he develop a likeness for fighting? Here we look at five interesting facts about Poirier.
#5 Dustin Poirier was in juvenile detention
Dustin Poirier grew up in Lafayette, Louisiana, in a rough neighborhood. His parents went through a divorce when he was just five years old. After the split, he lived with his mother, Jere Chaisson, along with his two brothers.
Growing up, Dustin Poirier had a liking towards American football and wrestling. He didn't attend school as regularly as the other kids, and when he did, it was to play ball. However, he soon started getting into street fights, and as a result, was expelled from school in the 8th grade.
Poirier was then placed in an alternate school to get him to the 9th grade. He was soon sent to juvenile detention and boot camps for repeatedly getting into trouble and street fights. After getting out, he chose to never attend school again, which he said made him feel like a prison. The No.1 UFC lightweight said in an interview on The Real:
"I honestly never graduated eighth grade. I got expelled in eighth grade, and then I got put in an alternative school to jump me back to my ninth grade. And then I did a lot of my ninth grade in juvenile detention and in boot camp.. When I got out of that, I just never went back to school."
#4 Dustin Poirier was 'head over heels' with fighting
After dropping out of school, Dustin Poirier had no ambition and nothing to look forward to except fighting. He used to stay at home, smoke weed and drink with his friends. However, all that was to change by the time he reached his 18th birthday. Poirier said:
"I was head over heels with combat. I went to sleep thinking about it. I woke up thinking about it. I worked all day thinking about it. It was who I was. I would have cut anybody off to continue. I would have done whatever it took to continue."
Ever since he was in middle school, Dustin Poirier had been in love with fighting. The idea excited him, so after turning 18, he committed himself to combat and started spending all of his days at the gym.
When Poirier started training, MMA was not a well-known sport and he weighed 200 lbs. Regardless, he trained in boxing and jiu-jitsu because he loved it. He said:
"When I'm passionate about something, I'm all the way in it. So when I found that I can get training and possibly become a professional fighter, or just even the thought of fighting somebody, I was excited about. It wasn't even about money when I started. It was just for the love of fight, and I found that, and I put everything into it. I became in love, I just became infatuated.. I became a student of the game."
Within six months of starting his training, Dustin Poirier booked his first MMA fight.
#3 Loss against Conor McGregor changed Dustin Poirier's life
Dustin Poirier started his MMA career in 2009 and was 16-3 by the time he faced Conor McGregor in 2014. The MMA sensation from Ireland was the first person to really get under Poirier's skin. The night he faced McGregor will always be remembered by him as an important event in his life.
Dustin Poirier felt he was born to fight and was having an excellent run in his MMA career. Suddenly, he met a rival who not only insulted Poirier but also handed him the first knockout of his career. 'The Diamond' was broken.
The fight was key for Dustin Poirier, and he was more angry than ever at UFC 178. He said after the fight:
"(The) Conor fight was the turning point. I remember I was backstage getting ready to walk out, and I saw him and he threw this smile and pointed at me. I don’t know why, but it really got to me, man. It really messed with my head. I mean I’m about to go out and fight this dude, and he’s back there smiling at me? After that fight I knew I had to find a different way to use my emotion."
The loss against Conor McGregor forced Dustin Poirier to make some changes. He immediately moved up to the UFC lightweight division and started picking up wins against veterans like Joe Duffy and Bobby Green. Five years later, in 2019, 'The Diamond' proved himself by defeating Max Holloway and winning the interim UFC lightweight championship.
And when Conor McGregor arrived one more time in Dustin Poirier's path, at UFC 257, The Diamond avenged his earlier loss via TKO.
Also Read: Dustin Poirier explains why Conor McGregor will be a 'dangerous man' during their UFC 264 fight.
#2 Dustin Poirier received the inaugural Forrest Griffin Award for his community work
Dustin Poirier runs The Good Fight Foundation, a charity that helps the poor and community workers.
His foundation has launched several programs over the last three years, including annual Thanksgiving food drives, back-to-school campaigns and fundraisers to help purchase utility kits for hundreds of women going through homelessness and even furniture for local shelters.
In 2020, the UFC announced Dustin Poirier as the winner of the inaugural Forrest Griffin Community Award. He received $25,000 towards the charity of his choice. The announcement was made during his interview with Jon Anik. After receiving the award, 'The Diamond' said:
"I’m just grateful for the things we have accomplished with the foundation, the way it’s growing and the support and people getting behind it. It’s amazing that when you do something from the heart, something that means something to you, and you do it the right way, all the right things fall into place. These things aren't forced, they are just happening."
Dana White lauded Dustin Poirier for his community work and said:
"Dustin is a great athlete, but more importantly he’s a great human being. He is a kid who works hard and is passionate about giving back to not only his community, but to those who are less fortunate."
#1 Dustin Poirier has featured in a film which explores MMA
Dustin Poirier featured in a documentary on fighting called Fightville. The film, which premiered internationally in 2011 at the Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival, was directed by Michael Tucker and Petra Epperlein.
The film featured other fighters from Poirier's hometown of Lafayette in Louisiana.
Dustin Poirier and Albert Stainback received much of the screen time as the film explored the fighters' troubled backgrounds and inclinations for fighting. In a movie clip, 'The Diamond' said:
"I definitely think fighting has opened the path to redemption for me. I mean I've tried; I've been in boot camp and juvenile detentions and programs and all this stuff that's supposed to help you.. And I mean that didn't help, you know, but when I found something that I wanted, I really was gonna chase it no matter what roadblock was in front of me.. I would go and get it.."