Dustin Poirier (Esther Lin/MMA Fighting)Dustin Poirier Proving to Be a Legitimate Threat in the UFC’s Featherweight Division Kyle Symes May 2, 2014 Spotlight Dustin “The Diamond” Poirier isn’t a name many fans think of when discussing title contenders in the featherweight division, but one way or another, he seems determined to fix that. Poirier is currently riding a three-fight winning streak with the last two coming by way of TKO or knockout. He controlled the majority of his contest with former top contender Erik Koch, absolutely mauled Diego Brandao and had a “Fight of the Night” performance against Akira Corassani. He’s currently ranked at No. 5 in the UFC featherweight rankings, and he happens to be the UFC wins leader within the 145-pound division. However, for everything that’s been going right with Poirier recently, the same cannot be said of his entire UFC career. Poirier racked up a handful of wins inside the Octagon from 2011 to 2012, but ran into a “Korean Zombie” roadblock when he was submitted by Chan Sung Jung. It wasn’t a total loss—the fight was voted as “Fight of the Year” by many media outlets. Poirier also rebounded nicely against Jonathan Brookins and made an important step forward in his career. Following the loss to Jung, Poirier left Gladiators Academy and made the move to American Top Team. He had come up through the ranks by training at Gladiators with Tim Credeur running things, but both sides agreed a change was necessary. Although Poirier felt the sting of defeat once more at the hands of Cub Swanson, it’s pretty clear to see that Poirier is making massive improvements due to his time at ATT. Poirier will need those improvements now that the level of competition he will be facing is only going to get better. Luckily for “The Diamond,” he’s only 25 years of age and has a bright future ahead of him. It would be easy to group him in with Michael Bisping as the type of fighter who dominates lower-tier competition, but who can’t win the big one. Yet, that’s not an accurate description of Poirier. Yes, he is still a work in progress, but he’s already competing at such a high level now that one can only imagine the potential possessed by the Louisiana native. Poirier utilizes combination punches, something not seen by younger fighters, and is also a brown belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. With that skill set, he can be a match-up nightmare for nearly everyone in the upper half of the featherweight division. Where Poirier will need to improve is in his defense. His offensive output may be technical, but he still gets hit far too often. Brandao was able to stagger him, and although Poirier showed great poise in recovering, what happens if someone like Jose Aldo or Chad Mendes manages to land a thunderous punch? Those issues should continue to get worked out by the coaching staff at ATT, which is widely considered one of the top camps in all of MMA. One would assume training with such high-caliber opponents on a regular basis would only continue to polish “The Diamond.” Poirier’s style is one of the most fan-friendly, and he’s without a doubt one of the more popular fighters on the UFC roster. That will help maintain his standing in the UFC, as virtually anyone will be willing to tune in to watch his fights. However, given his aggressive nature, some of those risks don’t always pay off. He almost always has a few moments where his opponent has an opening, but Poirier has been good enough to overcome those. If he wants to make a serious push to the title, though, those openings are going to have to be miniscule. Considering fights against top contenders are won by a matter of inches, Poirier can’t afford a slip-up against guys like Frankie Edgar, Mendes or Ricardo Lamas. There’s still likely at least one or two more fights before Poirier finds himself in a title contender bout, but he has a lot of things going for him. Age, a great training camp and a great skill set all combine to make him into a dangerous fighter. And, as we’ve seen, if the UFC fans are behind a fighters, odds are the fighter will land on pay-per-view cards making top dollar.