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Head coach: Dustin Poirier gunning to take out Michael Chandler, ‘every bone in his body says kill, kill, kill’

UFC Fighter Portraits Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

Dustin Poirier and Michael Chandler may not have the main event slot at UFC 281, but if this card was a race for superlatives, they would definitely be voted as the fight most likely to deliver on Saturday night.

With a combined 15 post-fight bonuses and a remarkable finishing rate that includes 25 knockouts and 16 submissions, the lightweights are predicted to put on a battle that will serve as the equivalent to a human demolition derby.

While Poirier has conditioned himself to fight more strategically in recent years rather than engaging in all out wars, his longtime head coach Mike Brown said the former interim lightweight champion has his sights set on delivering exactly what fans expect when he clashes with Chandler.

“Dustin comes to fight every time,” Brown told MMA Fighting. “Every time it’s going to be crazy exciting, you’re going to be biting your nails. He gets in the heat, he gets in it quick. I like when he slows things down but I don’t think he’s got it in him.

“Every bone in his body says kill, kill, kill and he’s in there to take the guy out as quick as you can.”

Brown praises Poirier as a very coachable fighter, and he’s continuously developed the ability to drag his opponents into deeper waters and drown them. That said, the veteran American Top Team coach knows the ex-interim champ also has the kind of fight-ending power than could send Chandler home before the first round expires.

“He’s matured tremendously,” Brown said about Poirier. “He’s much better when he takes his time. He also has tremendous conditioning, so he’s not going to slow down. A lot of the time, the longer it plays out, the better it is for him. I mean no doubt it, he has the ability to get the guy out of there quick and early. He has that ability, but I think he’s got so much skill, it doesn’t make sense to go in there and destroy the guy so quick.

“It’s better to be strategic, take your time and chip away, pick the guy apart and take him out in the later minutes or the later rounds than just getting into a one-minute shootout, which he has the ability to do.”

While Chandler has promised that he’s going to do exactly what he’s done in every single one of his previous UFC appearances, which includes his 2021 “Fight of the Year” against Justin Gaethje, Brown is hesitant to fully accept that game plan from the former Bellator champion.

As much as Chandler loves to put on thrilling fights, Brown knows he’s also a highly capable wrestler with enough grappling that he could look to surprise Poirier — if they weren’t already expecting that as a real possibility.

“I think Chandler is more versatile in that he has a strong wrestling pedigree, and he does have the ability to wrestle and work takedowns as well,” Brown said. “He’s a well-rounded, dangerous athlete. He’s known for his exciting fights, but he does have the capability to do a lot of different things and fight in a lot of different places.

“He’s kind of known for [exciting fights], but I think over time and over history, he’s won with strategy and mixing things up and fighting a complete MMA fight. So we’re prepared for everything.”

Poirier’s return at UFC 281 also marks his first appearance since falling short in his second bid to become undisputed lightweight champion after he fell to Charles Oliveira almost exactly one year ago.

Much like the losing team in the Super Bowl, fighters coming back from a disappointing performance in a title fight sometimes fall short afterwards because the let down from that kind of defeat is so deflating.

For his part, Brown doesn’t expect any drop off from Poirier in his fight against Chandler. If anything, Brown anticipates Poirier to be even more fired up because he’s never suffered losses in back-to-back fights and he doesn’t plan on starting now.

“Honestly, I think he’s hungrier than ever,” Brown said. “I think a lot of times it’s usually after a loss is when a guy is most hungry, especially a guy of Dustin’s caliber. Sometimes on a big streak, people become complacent but I think this is the type of thing that motivates a guy like Dustin. If maybe he’s got a few wins in a row, or he’s on a streak, he’s more relaxed, but when you have that taste in your mouth of defeat, nothing is more motivating than that.

“It’s cliché, they say you learn a lot more from your losses than your wins, but it’s very true. I think it’s also very motivating. It drives you to train harder. To be more prepared and to do the best you can to not have that feeling ever happen again.”

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