On Saturday, Poirier faced Michael Chandler in a bloody, back-and-forth battle that saw Poirier secure a third-round submission despite, according to Poirier, having to fight through several fouls from his opponent. After the bout, Poirier alleged that Chandler intentionally bled into his mouth and also fish-hooked him in an attempt to gain leverage for a choke. And so, in the heat of battle, Poirier admits to coloring outside the lines.
“I bit the s*** out of his fingers,” Poirier told Ariel Helwani on The MMA Hour. “But I had my mouthguard in, so only my bottom teeth could get him. He didn’t even try to pull it out when I bit. ... In the moment, when I was biting down on his fingers, I kind of stopped biting like, ‘Oh s***, what am I doing?’ Reality hit me. I’m glad I bit him, but it was an instinct. ...
“Just be honest. It’s whatever. And I’m sure he didn’t plan on doing it, but in the heat of the moment, you’re fighting for your life, bro. Just like when I bit him. I didn’t plan on biting him. I was like, ‘Oh s***, I’m f****** really biting this guy!’ It’s war, it’s fighting. Things happen in there. But admit it.”
Chandler has thus far been unwilling to do so. In his own post fight interview, Chandler acknowledged that he did end up blowing his bloody nose while Poirier was positioned underneath him, but denied any intentional wrongdoing, saying it was just bad timing. But Poirier isn’t buying that.
“I don’t care what the f*** the guy says in interviews, or the guy he’s trying to portray,” Poirier said. “He 100 percent did. He 100 percent did. When I was elbowing him, I was calling him a nasty motherf*****. That’s what I kept telling him. ...
“I can hear him blow his nose. He did it hard. Let me tell you this, if you go back and watch the replay of the blood falling out of his nose, yeah, it was leaking, it might be broken or whatever. But when he got it lined up where he wanted it, those huge globs that came out, they didn’t fall out, he forced them out. And it’s fighting. It’s war. Just like the hat said, it’s war. I’ve done it to guys before. I did it to Joe Duffy in Vegas, when he shattered my nose. I was trying to bleed in his eyes and throw elbows. It’s just fighting. But don’t lie about it.”
But despite the fervor around the alleged dirty tactics of Chandler, it was another illegal blow that Poirier said was the biggest difficulty for him in the fight. In the first round, Chandler hurt Poirier with a shot that had the former interim champion covering up against the fence. But “The Diamond” said what actually hurt him was a headbutt, which he believes was a genuine accident.
“None of those shots really hit me clean,” Poirier said. “I was rocked from a headbutt, bad. That’s what started the whole barrage of him trying to finish me against the fence. The headbutt was the biggest shot I took that night. Big time.”
“No, not at all,” Poirier added when asked if that too was intentional. “He kind of went down, faked the shot, I down-blocked, went to sprawl, and as he was coming back up, it was a good shot. I was really hurt. That’s why immediately I went back to the fence in the first round to kind of use it as a crutch. Obviously, he started going crazy trying to finish me. I would have done the same thing to him. He probably didn’t even know the headbutt [happened]. I got the worst of it, for sure. It hit me under my jaw. ... Luckily I was able to roll, and bob and weave the punches so nothing landed flush, but I was worried.”
In the end, Poirier was able to outlast Chandler in their bloody war, earning his eighth “Fight of the Night” bonus, tying him with Edson Barboza, Nate Diaz, and Frankie Edgar for most in UFC history. And it’s those sorts of fights, as grueling and as nasty as they might be, which keep “The Diamond” coming back for more.
“I love that stuff,” Poirier said. “Talking about fighting, when I say I don’t love this no more and stuff like that, it’s a lot of the outside stuff that I’m speaking on. That stuff is why I still fight, because I love that. I love that uncomfortable — it’s just a crazy place to be in. It’s just so real. Nothing in the whole world — the whole world stops. Nothing else matters but this moment.
“I don’t know how to explain it, but it’s uncomfortable. It’s very uncomfortable, but I love that uncomfortable. A lot of these fights, I might not be a better athlete, better technician, but I’m okay with being uncomfortable, and I out-uncomfortable these guys. Every fight is uncomfortable, but I know it is for them as well, and I like that. It’s weird thing to put into words, but I still love that about fighting. That’s what keeps me in love with this still.”