Dustin Poirier with his wife, Jolie, after he defeated Conor McGregor at UFC 264 in July (Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)
PLAYERS & TEAM EARNINGS

Dustin Poirier: The UFC’s Sauce Boss Goes for Gold

“I don’t hate anybody in this game. I have a lot of respect for Charles Oliveira’s body of work,” the lightweight star tells Boardroom ahead of UFC 269. “But if I hurt him, I’m going to put him away.”

On Saturday, Dustin Poirier will attempt to walk away with the title that has eluded him: Undisputed UFC lightweight champion. Standing in his way is incumbent belt-holder Charles Oliveira, a legendary submission ace who gained the gold in May and is riding a nine-fight win streak entering UFC 269 in Las Vegas.

But Poirier comes in as the winner of three consecutive fights in his own right, with his last two coming over none other than Conor McGregor. And with his fight career blooming, his businesses booming, all that’s left for the Diamond is to walk away as the undisputed champion.

This will be Poirier’s second attempt at becoming an undisputed UFC champion. The first came in 2019 against Khabib Nurmagomedov. Since the fight against “the Eagle” which ended in defeat by submission, Poirier’s life has changed markedly.

In 2020, he fought just once, beating Dan Hooker in a unanimous decision that required a brilliant comeback after losing the first two rounds. This year, Poirier did it bigger, avenging his 2014 loss to McGregor, the single biggest star in mixed martial arts by a seriously wide margin, two times over.

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Poirier passed on a potential title fight for the vacant lightweight belt in order to fight McGregor a third time. The decision paid off in more ways than one: Poirier both defeated McGregor to earn the title shot against Oliveira and earned the biggest payday of his career headlining a pay-per-view that boasted a sensational 1.5 million buys.

On Saturday, however, style points, trash talk, and generally saucy attitudes mean nothing to “the Diamond.” How the fight finishes does not matter to the Lafayette, Louisiana native; all he cares about is getting his hand raised once the bout is done.

“Getting ready for any title fight is grueling,” said Poirier told Boardroom this week. “From me, getting off the plane in Florida to start training camp, it will have been nine weeks that I have been dieting [and] pushing my body and mind preparing to face one man for 25 minutes. Those fourth and fifth rounds are where I thrive — when the going gets tough. In a perfect world, I bring him there, I make him dig down, and then I break him.”

Outside of the Octagon, however, things are different — sauce is everything to Poirier if we’re speaking literally rather than figuratively.

With Poirier only fighting once in 2020, he set his eyes on the culinary world, teaming up with Heartbeat Hot Sauce Co. to create Poirier’s Louisiana Style Hot Sauce. “At the beginning of the pandemic, I was sitting at home and I had a lot of time on my hands, and that’s when the hot sauce was really born,” he said. 

The sauce comes in two flavors: The traditional vinegar-based sauce and the “KO Edition” that includes extra-hot ghost pepper flavoring. And despite Poirier being just a year into this adventure, he was ready to share a bit of breaking news: He’s already signed a deal with Complex for a TV series called Food Fight that will see him traveling to various cities and exploring gyms, kitchens, and restaurants along the way.

“[The show] is already in the works,” Poirier said. “I always wanted to get my foot in the culinary world somehow. I enjoy cooking and love our culture down in Louisiana.”

The show does not yet have a release date. Complex declined to comment on Poirier’s upcoming show.

The Diamond’s other business ventures include endorsement deals with Celsius, a thermogenic pre-workout drink, a deal with Crypto.com, and fashion label Robert Graham. And Poirier told Boardroom that when the time comes for him to retire, he’ll be focused on building his real estate portfolio.

Away from the octagon and the kitchen, Poirier’s passion lies with his Good Fight Foundation. Currently, the foundation is raising money for three causes:

  • Beat the Streets, which means to help bring funds to youth wrestling programs
  • Toys for Tots
  • Providing 300,000 meals for families after UFC 269 by auctioning off his fight-worn gear. A $25 donation will provide 100 meals, $50 provides 200 meals, $100 provides 400 meals and $250 generates $1,000.

These efforts aren’t a matter of personal branding — they’re personal Poirier. At the 2020 UFC Hall of Fame induction ceremony, he was given the inaugural Forrest Griffin Community Award, which honors a UFC athlete for exceptional volunteer and charity work and creating a meaningful impact in their communities.

For now, though, it’s all about leaving Las Vegas with gold wrapped around his waist.

“I don’t hate anybody in this game. I have a lot of respect for Oliveira’s body of work. [But] if I hurt [Oliveira], I’m going to put him away.”

(This article has been updated to show that Complex declined to comment on the story.)

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