Despite UFC on ESPN 12 win, Dustin Poirier plans to ‘get back to the drawing board’

Dustin Poirier is happy to have the longest layoff of his career behind him.

Poirier (26-6 MMA, 18-5 UFC), a former UFC interim lightweight champion, is even happier his layoff concluded ended in victory. In the UFC on ESPN 12 main event, Poirier went toe-to-toe with fellow contender Dan Hooker. After 25 minutes, Poirier earned a unanimous decision victory.

“It was a tough one, man,” Poirier told the UFC after the fight. “Dan came to fight. He’s a tough guy. He’s on the rise and really thought he was going to get passed me. He talked a lot of trash, like, he was going to move forward and fight the champ — but I’m the champ. This is what I love to do. I put all the work in. I trust in my team, skill, and work ethic. I came here, pulled another one out, and had a few more rounds in me.”

While he is pleased he won, Poirier indicated he thinks there’s a lot of work that still needs to be done. Reflecting on his “Fight of the Night” with Hooker (20-9 MMA, 10-5 UFC), Poirier thinks there were some adjustments he could have made.

“I could have been a little bit sharper,” Poirier said. “I didn’t move out of the way of a few shots. It’s not that I disrespected Dan’s power, but I stayed in the pocket too long. I should have been sharper. At the end, I started getting in my range and countering off his lazy shots. I landed some good ones and made his head snap back. I was stealing the rounds with shots like that, but I can do better.”

As for what’s next, Poirier isn’t sure when he’ll return. His previous fight before Saturday was a losing title challenge against UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov at UFC 242 in September. The defeat didn’t sit well with Poirier. However, now that he’s coming off a win, he’s eager to continue his ascent up the 155-pound ladder.

“Maybe I’ll fight at the end of the year,” Poirier said. “Maybe I’ll fight next year. I just want to go home to my daughter. I’m a winner and it was a long time off. It was the longest break in my career. I had to take nine months off and sit on the sidelines. I had to overcome some stuff.

“Now that I’m a victor again, I want to get back to the drawing board. I want to keep getting better. I want to stay in love with this sport. I don’t want to push myself so much to where I hate this. I’ve been doing this a long time and pushing myself to the limits every day. So I just want to do it right.”

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