Here’s how Dustin Poirier got fit for UFC 281

It has been almost a full year since Dustin Poirier last entered the Octagon. One might imagine that there might be some element of rust, especially in a physically and mentally demanding sport such as mixed martial arts. But during the layoff, Poirier (28-7 MMA, 20-6 UFC) perpetually stayed in the gym, training local fighters or honing his skills while waiting for his next fight to unfold.

As he talked about his fight against Michael Chandler this Saturday on the UFC 281 pay-per-view main card, there was a sense of excitement in his tone, but also of motivation. Being out of the limelight for a long time tends to cause the voices of detractors to become louder and more frequent. Not that he needs extra fuel for the fire, Poirier is looking to put on a show and line up for a shot at the lightweight title.

Poirier spoke with GQ halfway through his training camp about how he manages to keep the camp refreshing after 13 years, because he doesn’t betray the carbs further, prioritizing his brain health and his hot sauce side project.

GQ: What was the training camp like and how did the body feel after such a long layoff?

Dustin Poirier: Good. I’m actually injury-free other than bumps and bruises because you can’t get around that stuff in boot camp. But I feel good and everything is fine.

In training camp, are you more focused on fine-tuning what you need or are you focused on exploiting your opponent’s weaknesses?

It is definitely a mix of both. Of course, I have to refine, fine-tune and do whatever I need. My coaches and I analyze things [my opponents] they are good at. Where are there holes in their game? We try to exploit these things during the training camp and implement them in the fight. But I also have to worry about myself, keep evolving as a fighter and martial artist. I always work on my skills and try different things. As the fight approaches, that tunnel vision becomes more focused on the opponent’s style.

What are the stages of your training camp?

I would say that in the last 10 meetings it has been a similar process. I’ll be doing eight to ten weeks in South Florida. When I am in Louisiana, I will start my diet even before I enter training camp and fly to Florida just to get a little anticipation of the game. That’s a lot of skill work to get started. Of course, there is strength and conditioning, cardio, worrying about weight cutting, making sure you burn calories, and eat a calorie-deprived diet every week. I am losing some weight but not too much when I fall because I still need to heal between each training session. It’s just a systematic approach that my team and I have perfected. Things we thought worked well, we will use the next field again. The things we think we need to change, we will. Each fight is different. What I do, another fighter may not be successful in doing it.