September 3, 2019

UFC 242: Dustin Poirier Is The Role Model MMA Needs

By Raphael Garcia

We live in a world where professional sports and social justice go hand in hand. While some fans and athletes think they should be separate, the two have been intertwined for generations. In MMA, that conversation is even more controversial, but some athletes get the point. One such fighter is UFC Interim Lightweight Champion Dustin Poirier. As he pushes closer to his shot at the Undisputed UFC Lightweight Championship in the main event of  UFC 242, "The Diamond" has made it clear that he knows he’s fighting for more than his own success.

With very little fanfare or promotion by the UFC, Poirier has built The Good Fight Foundation into one of the leading charity organizations within the mixed martial arts sphere. One need only navigate to the organization’s website to see all the ways this foundation has helped multitudes of people. The Good Fight Foundation has helped those in need of food for Thanksgiving and has provided access to clean water in underdeveloped areas. Poirier helps to build awareness and raise money for this organization each time he steps into the cage. His recent Twitter post echoes that sentiment:
“Just trying to raise my hands in the air as the undisputed world champion and give others a voice and a reason to smile. The older I get the more I understand my platform.”


That is a social media post that’s vastly different than what we usually see from combat sports athletes during a fight week. In MMA, social media usage is usually relegated to back and forth banter between fighters, including insults and accusations of PED use, rather than using their voices to speak for the marginalized and downtrodden. It’s a breath of fresh air in a time when the rhetoric in the sport is continually getting worse.

What started as a joint effort between Poirier and his wife Jolie has grown into a foundation that serves the public good on a much larger scale. However, the sad truth is that this work goes largely unnoticed. The UFC promotional machine focuses on the training clips and highlights of competitors battling their opponents, but it has failed in showcasing the efforts of fighters like Poirier who elevate their respective communities. Nevertheless, Poirier has done an exceptional job providing the voice the Good Fight Foundation needs. As he said in his UFC 236 postfight speech after winning the interim title:
“Years later, I will not be fighting anymore, but I will still be helping the people of Louisiana. That’s what it’s all about.”

When NBA Hall of Famer Charles Barkley famously once said that he’s not a role model in a Nike commercial spot, it resonated with professional athletes and fans. And indeed, the vast majority of fighters neither are nor aspire to be role models. But UFC Dustin Poirier is the type of fighter and professional that fans can look up to and be proud of. At UFC 242 he hopes to give them another reason to do so, and in the process, give the Good Fight Foundation an even bigger platform.

UFC 242
Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Dustin Poirier (UFC Lightweight Championship)

UFC 242: Khabib vs. Poirier takes place September 7, 2019 at The Arena in Yas Island, Abu Dhabi.

Click HERE for more UFC 242 Pre-Fight Analysis


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