Dustin Poirier: If I could, I’d bet on Max Holloway over Justin Gaethje at UFC 300

Former interim UFC lightweight champ Dustin Poirier has two fights apiece with Max Holloway and Justin Gaethje, so he’s very qualified to opine on the result of the “BMF” title bout at UFC 300.

Holloway and Gaethje are two of the main attractions for the April 13 pay-per-view event. Poirier initially targeted the banner fight card but wound up signing on for a showdown with Benoit Saint Denis at UFC 299.

Poirier didn’t expect former featherweight kingpin Holloway and ex-interim lightweight champ Gaethje would ever fight.

“I’m surprised,” he said recently on The MMA Hour. “I thought Gaethje was going to fight Islam [Makhachev]. That’s the fight I thought was going to happen.

“Max and Gaethje’s a fun fight. … This is going to be a fun fight for the fans. I’m excited about it as a fan of the sport, but I really thought Gaethje was going to get a crack at the belt.”

Instead, Gaethje puts his “BMF” title on the line after knocking out Poirier by head kick at UFC 291 to claim the ceremonial belt. Gaethje’s emphatic performance doesn’t earn any extra points when Poirier breaks down the UFC 300 fight, however.

“If I could bet, I respect both guys, both fighters — I think I would put money on Max, just him being a dog,” Poirier said. “I see a lot of people online saying Max is going to be undersized. Max is a big guy. Him and Gaethje probably walk around at the same weight. Max isn’t a small guy.”

Holloway moved up to Poirier’s lightweight division to challenge for the interim belt at UFC 236. Poirier emerged with a thrilling decision win to set up a title shot against then-champ Khabib Nurmagomedov. It was their second meeting after a 2012 meeting at featherweight ended in a decision for Poirier over Holloway.

Poirier has traded in the pocket with both Holloway and Gaethje, and he thinks the former ultimately has an edge.

“In the striking, the timing of Max, his range, his durability, it’s a coin toss, but if I was betting, I would bet Max,” Poirier said.

Asked whether he suspected early on that Holloway would become one of the best featherweights of all-time, Poirier said he was just surprised as everyone else. But he credited Holloway for putting in the work to solidify his legacy.

“I remember breaking down footage with my coaches,” Poirier said of their first fight. “It was hard to find footage because he was so young in his career. We thought he was more of a kickboxer. But he’s rounded out his game, put in the work, and he’s one of the best of all-time, I think. I had no clue that he would turn into the champion and legendary fighter he is now.

“And he’s a good dude. There’s a lot of slimy people in this sport. Max is one of the good ones.”