UFC 236 finally has a main event and location.
The April 13 pay-per-view card, which will take place at State Farm Arena in Atlanta, will feature featherweight titleholder Max Holloway moving up to 155 pounds to face Dustin Poirier for the interim lightweight championship in the main event, UFC president Dana White told ESPN on Friday night.
The interim championship bout became a reality after current lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov (27-0) was suspended nine months by the Nevada State Athletic Commission for his role in a post-fight melee last October following his UFC 229 win over Conor McGregor. Nurmagomedov will be eligible to return in July.
Holloway-Poirier is a rematch of their 2012 bout won by Poirier (24-5, 1 NC) via first-round submission at UFC 143. The fight doubled as the UFC debut for the then 20-year-old Holloway (20-3). The rematch only came to be, according to ESPN's Brett Okamoto, when former interim champion Tony Ferguson (24-3) turned down a shot to face Holloway.
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The announcement comes just days after a second interim title bout pairing top middleweight contenders Kelvin Gastelum and Israel Adesanya was booked for the UFC 236 co-main event while champion Robert Whittaker recovers from emergency surgery that pulled him from UFC 234 earlier this month.
The 27-year-old Holloway, who is riding a 13-fight win streak that dates back to a 2013 loss to Conor McGregor, will hold onto his featherweight title for the moment. The native of Hawaii ended a disappointing and injury riddled 2018 in December by outlasting Brian Ortega via fourth-round TKO, which spurred White to publicly suggest Holloway was ready to join a deep and dangerous field at 155 pounds.
The fight also comes as a considerable relief for Poirier, 30, who went public Wednesday with his dissatisfaction by suggesting UFC part ways with him. Poirier is 8-1 (1 NC) since his own 2014 defeat to McGregor and enters the new year fresh off of grueling wins over Anthony Pettis, Justin Gaethje and Eddie Alvarez.
These guys should just release me.— The Diamond (@DustinPoirier) February 20, 2019
Ferguson, 35, posted a cryptic tweet on Wednesday referencing an offer for a fight he was considering passing on. It remains unclear whether "El Cucuy," who was stripped of his interim title last April after a freak knee injury, will wait for Nurmagomedov to return or be passed over altogether.
The crowded lightweight division has also been rumored to include a summer showdown between the former champion McGregor and veteran Donald "Cowboy" Cerrone.