Louisiana’s Dustin Poirier has only been fighting professionally for a little over two years, but in that span, the featherweight has managed to compete in the now-defunct WEC and be featured on the UFC’s first card on Fox.  That fact is not lost on the 22-year-old fighter.

“It’s just the beginning,” the man known as “The Diamond” proclaimed.  “Twenty years from now, when I’m running a gym, I’ll be able to tell the new guys that I fought on ‘UFC on Fox 1.’  (There’s) no telling what event (number) they’ll be on by the time that happens.”

Speaking with The MMA Corner, Poirier not only expressed his excitement for his upcoming bout, but talked about his journey to this point and where he thinks the future will take him.

Poirier twice competed for the WEC in the lightweight division, dropping a decision to Danny Castillo (the only loss of his career) and scoring a TKO over Zach Micklewright in under a minute.  While the promotion was absorbed in early 2011 by the UFC, Poirier is proud to have fought under their banner.

“Coming over from the WEC is part of the history of the sport,” the fighter said.  “There’s not any new fighters who can claim they’re a WEC veteran.  It’s like being a Pride veteran.”

While Poirier likely caught the attention of the UFC with his win over Micklewright, it was his first UFC bout that really established the Tim Credeur protégé as a force to reckon with inside the Octagon.  Stepping in at the last minute against then No. 1 contender Josh Grispi at UFC 125, Poirier put on a clinic, dismantling his opponent in his featherweight debut.

“I got to showcase my skills to a bigger audience than if it had been on a preliminary card because it was on ION (TV),” recalled Poirier.  “It jump-started my UFC career and threw me in the mix big time.  I showed I was better than him in that fight.”

In June, Poirier followed up on the performance by defeating Jason Young at UFC 131.  Now he’ll face off with fellow WEC veteran Pablo Garza at the Fox event on Nov. 12.  Both fighters have run their record to 2-0 inside the Octagon, but Poirier is quick to point out that he’s had more time in the cage, having gone the distance in both his bouts.  Even so, he’s not overlooking Garza.

“It’s a fight; you never know what’s going to happen,” said Poirier.  “I see holes in his game, but I’m sure he’s saying the same thing about me.  I’m going to try to capitalize on his mistakes.

“I don’t think he’s run into a fighter like me. I walk in there with my chin down and throw punches.  I’m going to rough him up and test both his heart and his chin.”

In preparation for the fight, Poirier has spent time away from his Louisiana home, venturing to New Jersey to train with Kurt Pellegrino and to Texas to train with Yves Edwards.  And while a win over Garza could move him one step closer to a title shot, Poirier is realistic about his growth as a fighter.

“I hope I’m a couple fights away (from a title shot),” explained the fighter.  “I’m not trying to rush that.  I just want to keep winning fights and fighting tough guys.  Maybe in a year or two, I’ll fight for the title.”

Most fighters take the opposite approach, but Poirier’s maturity shines through. He recognizes that with each day he is learning and gaining valuable experience that makes him a better fighter every time he steps in the cage.

“I don’t want to sprint to a title fight, and then drop the ball.  When I get it, it’s going to be mine for a while,” Poirier concluded.

For now, Poirier will continue to work hard and enjoy his journey.

“It’s been incredible.  The ups, the downs, the work, the time off.  It’s happening faster than I thought,” admitted the featherweight.  “But it’s the fruit of my labor.”

Look for Poirier on the Facebook and Fox.com stream of the UFC of Fox undercard, which takes place from the Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif. on Nov. 12

Top Photo: Dustin Poirier (Rob Tatum/The MMA Corner)