Over the course of 30 professional fights in a nearly decade-long career, Dustin Poirier has never had to pull out of a scheduled bout.
Until last week.
One of mixed martial arts’ toughest customers had to withdraw from his highly anticipated UFC 230 bout against Nate Diaz at Madison Square Garden in New York. And it wasn’t a freak accident in training or anything along those lines which was the cause.
Rather, the elite lightweight contender revealed on Monday’s edition of The MMA Hour with Luke Thomas, it was a matter of finally having to throw in the towel on a long-standing nagging injury.
Poirier has pushed through an injured hip in each of his last several fight camps, and this time around, the issue finally got to be too much.
“This is something I’ve been dealing with the last few camps, and it just progressively got worse,” Poirier said. “And then I did something with it this camp to where you know, like, I can still move around on it, I can still train, but if, say, I do a sprint, the next two days my range of motion is going to be horrible and I’m going to be in a lot of pain. It just got too bad to keep pushing at this point with it.”
It’s rare for a fighter to get through a full training camp completely healthy, as most fighters take some sort of health issue into the cage with them on fight night. But there’s also a difference between the normal bumps and bruises associated with combat sports, and the sort which keep you from being able to train at the level you need in order to compete against the best.
Poirier finally admitted to himself that his hip issue had devolved into the latter category, and that it was time to get the matter settled once and for all.
“Of course every fighter, whether they admit it or not, they have aches and pains and they go into fights hurt,” Poirier said. “If you’re training for a fight, you’re going to be pretty much, there’s going to be days where you’re hurting. Normal pain is no problem, that just comes with the job. But this actually got to the point where it was stopping me from doing the kind of training sessions I needed to be doing, and like I said, range of motion, internal rotation, a lot of stuff was just really really bothering me and it’s time to get something done about it.”
The American Top Team competitor, whose thrilling victory over Eddie Alvarez in July was his fourth straight (minus a no-contest) win and eighth in his past nine, believes he has potential good news.
The first doctor to whom he spoke believes he can avoid surgery on the injured hip, and use stem-cell treatment to get back on track in a matter of weeks. Poirier will get a second opinion for a doctor in Los Angeles this week, and if they concur with the first physician, Poirier might even be able to return to the Octagon before the calendar turns to 2019.
“One week we got one doctor’s opinion, the next week I’m flying out to LA to get another scan and another opinion and if the second doctor agrees with the first, I think it will be a pretty quick return. We’re just going to do some stem cell stuff and I think I’ll be moving around real quick, so, I don’t think I’ll be out long at all.”