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Dustin Poirier always seems to leave the cage with a few new scars but it’s almost like he wouldn’t have it any other way.

Following a nine-month layoff after hip surgery and a loss to Khabib Nurmagomedov in his last appearance, Poirier returned to the win column on Saturday night after engaging in an absolute war with Dan Hooker for five rounds.

When it was over, Poirier celebrated another hard fought victory with the judges giving him the unanimous decision with scores reading 48-47, 48-47 and 48-46 all in his favor. While Poirier got the win, both lightweights should probably revel in what will undoubtedly be viewed as one of the best fights of the year.

“It was a tough one,” Poirier said as he limped out of the octagon. “Dan came to fight. He really thought he was going to get past me. I trusted in my team and my skill and my work ethic and I had a few more rounds in me.”

As expected, Poirier and Hooker were more than ready to trade shots on the feet with each fighter having their moments in the fight. The former interim champion found a home for his overhand right while Hooker was trying to take out his foundation with a series of brutal kicks to the legs.

After a fairly technical opening round, Poirier came out head hunting in the second as he began firing a series of right hands just trying to decapitate Hooker. Somehow, Hooker took many of Poirier’s best shots and kept coning as he countered the Louisiana native with some clubbing punches of his own.

Time and time again, Poirier would find a home for a punch that would seemingly knock out any other lightweight on the roster but Hooker refused to go down. In response, Hooker just bit down on his mouthpiece and began throwing with even more volume as he connected with some stiff shots on Poirier’s chin.

Following two back-and-forth rounds, Poirier had a strong showing in the third as he mashed his foot down on the gas pedal to really come after Hooker with everything in his arsenal. Poirier landed some punishing blows but didn’t get too aggressive with Hooker poised to explode with his counter strikes.

The grueling battle on the feet finally gave way to Poirier and Hooker inviting some grappling exchanges. While Hooker was willing to go for the takedown, Poirier consistently made him pay by latching onto a pair of guillotine chokes and even coming close on an armbar attempt.

After an absolute war through 20 plus minutes, Hooker began looking for takedowns, perhaps in an attempt to sway the judges to his favor or maybe just out of pure exhaustion. Meanwhile, Poirier was starting to land on target with pop behind all of his punches while fending off Hooker as he tried to get the fight to the ground.

When the final horn sounded, Poirier looked like he was ready to go for another five rounds despite blood covering his face while Hooker was definitely wearing the effects of 25 minutes spent in the cage with one of the best strikers the lightweight division has ever known.

After getting his hand raised in victory, Poirier wasn’t thinking about titles or an opponent to call out next. He was just ready to rest and recover from his latest war while keeping his focus solely on getting better each and every day.

“Maybe I’ll fight at the end of the year. Maybe I’ll fight next year,” Poirier said. “Now that I’m a victor again, I want to get back to the drawing board. I just want to do it right and give it my all the right way.”