Dustin Poirier ships the fight kits himself. Another personal touch that makes the rising UFC star’s charitable efforts so unique.
Poirier has been auctioning off his fight-worn gloves and clothes for the past year to raise money for various causes in his hometown of Lafayette, Louisiana — a tradition he plans to continue after Saturday night’s main-event bout with Justin Gaethje on Fox.
And the winning bidders … well, they’d better not be expecting any sanitized versions to show up on their doorstep.
“This last one was a bloodbath, too,” Poirier said of his Nov. 11 win over Anthony Pettis, the pride evident in his voice. “I’m sure the flies were following the mail truck all the way to the delivery.”
The idea started — fittingly — as Poirier and his wife, Jolie, were packing up to move back to Lafayette, where they both grew up and first met at Acadian Middle School.
The 29-year-old lightweight contender had a room filled with a decade’s worth of fight memorabilia — one plastic drawer after another, packed with bloody gloves, shirts and shorts from nearly 30 professional fights.
“We didn’t realize how much was accumulating until it was time to move,” Poirier said.
Then the idea struck them: “Man, people would pay money for this, actually. And why not use the money to help somebody out?”
The idea has grown into the recent launching of their new charity, the Good Fight Foundation. Poirier said he wanted to give people a chance to contribute even if they couldn’t afford the fight kits or didn’t want a pair of bloody gloves hanging in the man cave.
He also wants the attention to be on the cause more than just on his name. But the foundation will still be as personal as it gets. Jolie will be doing all the books, and Poirier said they’ll be “completely transparent,” showing that every dollar goes directly to the causes they benefit.
Those causes are personal, too. Poirier, who was raised mostly by his mother and grandmother, said he grew up on the “rougher side” of Lafayette. He said they moved around a lot, and there were times they were on “food stamps and stuff like that.” But he saw others around him in even greater need.
“And I’ve seen it every day,” Poirier said. “There’s a lot of homeless people. And I mean, everybody could use help. But I just grew up around it, and I just wanted to give back to my local area.”
The Poirier’s first donation went to the Second Harvest Food Bank, where they raised enough money to provide about 3,000 meals for families in need. Their second donation went to the family of a Lafayette police officer, Cpl. Michael Middlebrook, who was shot and killed in the line of duty. This next donation will go to the Acadiana Outreach Center to help women and children experiencing homelessness and poverty.
“He wanted to personally come and deliver the check to us — so that was, like, big,” said Middlebrook’s widow, Adrien, who has three daughters and said she didn’t know Poirier personally beforehand. “So when I heard about it, I was like, ‘Wow, that’s so awesome,’ because we had been through a lot. It just goes to show that he’s alert and aware of what’s going on in the community.
“With him, it’s coming from the heart. He wants to be there and do it. I was surprised when he showed up at the house and wanted to come in and meet the whole family.”
Jill Meaux, the executive director of the Outreach Center, said Poirier’s gift of supplies and essentials “means the world to us and those less fortunate that we serve.
“Dustin’s generous spirit and drive to give back to his community is humbling and admirable.”
Poirier and his wife moved for a while to south Florida, where he trains at the American Top Team gym. He still trains there before every fight. However, they wanted to move back to Lafayette between fights so their 1-year-old daughter could be closer to extended family.
“Fighting, you have to be selfish. But I didn’t want to take that away from her childhood,” Poirier said. “So I decided to move back and just come to Florida to do my training camps.”
Poirier (22-5, 6-1 since moving up from featherweight) was hoping this next fight would be a rematch with Eddie Alvarez after their bout last May resulted in a controversial no-contest when Alvarez landed illegal knees.
But this is still another big step for him — the first time he’s headlining an event on the national Fox network. And if he gets past Gaethje (18-1), he should be even closer to a title shot. He also recently signed a new contract extension with UFC. So his career is on a great trajectory right now.
“Winning solves everything,” Poirier said. “Yeah, Alvarez seemed like the thing we should be doing and what the fans wanted to see, and I wanted closure to that fight. And he didn’t want it, so the fight never came together. But we have another big name, a former world champion. And we’re on Fox, so we’ll be on in a lot of homes, and I’ll be able to show my ability and the skill set that I have on one of the biggest stages ever.
“My goal and path is always to get to the mountaintop and be a world champion, and leave a fighting legacy. But right now I’m focused on April 14.”