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As the coronavirus pandemic sweeps the U.S., Dustin Poirier realizes some things are bigger than the sport

Dustin Poirier
Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Dustin Poirier knows life will eventually get back to normal again but with the coronavirus pandemic sweeping across the United States, he also realized some things were bigger than his career fighting in the UFC.

After plotting his return to action for several months following a loss to Khabib Nurmagomedov last September and then undergoing hip surgery in October, Poirier was just about to start a training camp for a potential fight in May when the spread of COVID-19 had just about every American hitting the panic button.

With the government recommending no more than 10 people getting together for any gathering, businesses shutting down for weeks at a time and the combat sports industry coming to a grinding halt, the former interim lightweight champion had no choice but to look at the big picture when it came to his immediate future.

Rather than traveling to Florida to begin working with his coaches and training partners at American Top Team, Poirier instead opted to go back home to Lafayette, La., to be with his family.

“First time in our lives that we’ve had a pandemic happen like this where we’re talking about domestic travel bans and curfews countrywide. It’s a crazy time,” Poirier told MMA Fighting. “I just want to be safe and be with my family.”

Last week, Poirier had traveled to Connecticut for the Bellator 241 card where some of his teammates were fighting but the entire event was eventually cancelled due to the numerous precautions being made due to the coronavirus outbreak.

He then tweeted that he was returning home to Louisiana while abandoning immediate plans to go to Florida to start his training camp. According to Poirier, his priority will always be his wife and daughter and that takes precedent over anything happening with an upcoming fight in the UFC.

“This sucks,” Poirier said. “Financially, I don’t have as much to worry about but I wasn’t worried about the fighting stuff. I was just worried about being separated from my family.

“I didn’t want to go to Florida and then have them come meet me. They were supposed to come meet me in like a week and a half and spend the rest of the time there with me until I fight but I didn’t want to get separated from them.”

While he may not be hitting the mats with his teammates, Poirier is still doing everything possible to stay in great shape with every intention of fighting Dan Hooker in May.

The change of scenery to his home in Louisiana coupled with the coronavirus forcing many gyms to shut down in order to slow the spread of the disease has forced Poirier to get a little more creative with his daily routine but he promises the work is still getting done.

“I’m still going to eat clean and run in the mornings and I’m about to train in 30 minutes here in Louisiana with my buddies. I’m good to go,” Poirier said. “That’s not really a priority right now. I’m just trying to wait this out day by day and see how this all happens.

“Fighting’s cool and all but that’s just something I do. I’ve got to worry about my family.”

On Monday, the UFC made the decision to scrap the next three events on the schedule that were originally supposed to happen in London, Columbus, Ohio, and Portland, Ore. Many of the fighters on those cards have expressed frustration because they were still ready to compete regardless of the coronavirus outbreak.

With his return expected to happen in two months, Poirier is hopeful that the current pandemic won’t necessarily affect him personally but then again he’s got bigger things to worry about right now than complaining that a fight might get moved or delayed.

“As of right now, my fight is far enough to where I’m not really stressed,” Poirier explained. “If my fight gets pushed back, we’ll have everything ready and we’ll know what’s going on by then but right now it’s still kind of fresh with all this going on.

“I’m not worried at all about my fight being pushed back or cancelled or whatever. Like I said, this is just fighting. It’s whatever. Of course, I want to fight. I want to get back in the win column and have a great performance and all that stuff but if it gets pushed back or cancelled or it’s a couple months later, that’s not a big deal to me.”

As much as Poirier has dedicated his life to mixed martial arts, he understands the severity of the current state of affairs due to the coronavirus outbreak and that’s why he’s approaching the situation as a husband and father first.

“Fighting is something I do,” Poirier said. “It’s not who I am 100 percent.

“That’s what I’m trying to do. Just be here with my family until this thing passes or we know what’s next and then we’ll take it from there.”

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