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UFC reveal Poirier v Holloway interim lightweight title bout, winner earns shot at champ Khabib

UFC reveal Poirier v Holloway interim lightweight title bout, winner earns shot at champ Khabib
The UFC announced Friday that Dustin Poirier and featherweight champion Max Holloway will contest the interim lightweight title in the UFC 236 headliner on April 13 in Atlanta to determine who will challenge Khabib Nurmagomedov.

The Russian is currently suspended from active competition for his actions which sparked the post-fight brawl after his title defense against Conor McGregor in October of last year. 

ESPN first reported the news of the bout, which is a rematch of a February 2012 bout which Poirier won by submission.

The Nevada State Athletic Commission offered to slice three months from Nurmagomedov's suspension if he agreed to film an anti-bullying video –an offer which was declined– and, given that it will likely be November before he fights again, the UFC have opted to create an interim title to keep the division ticking over in his absence.

The announced bout, Max Holloway v Dustin Poirier, features two of the most in-form fighters on the UFC roster. Holloway has won 13 straight fights since his last defeat, an August 2013 decision to McGregor. Poirier, meanwhile, has lost just once since moving to lightweight, following his own defeat to McGregor in 2014. 

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Both fighters have recently been turning in the best performances of their careers. Holloway looked outstanding in his one-sided demolition of the up-to-then unbeaten contender Brian Ortega in December. Prior to that, the Hawaiian racked up two straight TKO victories against 145lb legend Jose Aldo.

His status as the featherweight champion will not be interrupted by his pursuit of the interim lightweight title, per the UFC.

Poirier's last three victories have come against three former world champions in Eddie Alvarez, Justin Gaethje and Gilbert Melendez, though he had recently made clear his discontent with the logjam atop the lightweight division, as well as Nurmagomedov's open pursuit of a fight with Georges St-Pierre.

Tony Ferguson, the consensus top contender for Nurmagomedov's 155lb title, was offered a slot in the interim title match but he declined.

"Max and I were both kids seven years ago," Poirier said to ESPN of his first meeting with Holloway.

"We've both been in the UFC, fighting top competition. That's a lifetime. We're completely different fighters now and this is a completely different fight. Max is a proven, undisputed champion at featherweight. I don't even know if he's in [his] prime yet -- he might be approaching it. He's a tough test for me, and I am for him. I have a lot of respect for Max."

UFC 236 takes place in Atlanta, Georgia, and will be co-headlined by an interim middleweight title bout between Kelvin Gastelum and Israel Adesanya.

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