Dustin Poirier has always been a fighter, both literally—he’s bested the likes of Conor McGregor and Max Holloway in the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) octagon, winning the UFC lightweight championship in 2019—as well as figuratively, in the way he conducts his life outside the arena.
He attributes much of that spirit to his hometown of Lafayette, Louisiana. “Where I grew up on the north side of town, there were so many oil field and other labor jobs,” Poirier says. “You worked for everything you got, and nothing was given to you, which gave everyone a very hard-nosed mentality. Growing up around hard work was just normal to me, and it definitely helped me in my fighting career.”
But Lafayette has a softer side, too, which was one of the major draws that pulled Poirier and his wife, Jolie, to move back to their hometown from South Florida in 2016 after the birth of their daughter, Parker. “Part of moving back was that we didn’t want to keep [Parker] away from family. In Lafayette, she’s around grandmas and uncles and aunts,” Poirier says. “But we also wanted to raise her where my wife and I grew up.”
As they prepared for their move, Poirier packed boxes and boxes of old fighting memorabilia, such as sweaty shirts and bloody hand wraps from some of his most famous fights. “We were loading up the U-Haul, and I realized just how much of it I had. We decided to auction it off and give it to charity,” Poirier says. “We saw how much of an impact that made and decided to start our own organization to be the middleman for other charities, raising money to help them do their work.” His resulting non-profit, the Good Fight Foundation, has organized school supply drives for Acadian Middle School, donated thousands of dollars to food banks, gathered car seats to give to families in need at Louisiana children’s hospitals, and built a special needs-accessible playground in memory of a local boy who died of a rare neurological disease.
“The thing I love most about Lafayette is seeing how much the community supports local things—sports teams, restaurants, businesses—it’s inspiring,” he says. “And it’s really growing. South Lafayette is taking off and I think it’s going to just continue growing.” His top recommendation of where to eat in town, though, remains a classic.
“Lafayette and Acadiana is the center of Cajun culture, so when anyone comes from out of town, I tell them to go to Prejean’s Cajun restaurant,” Poirier says. “They’ve got frog legs and alligator and catfish. They have this incredible smoked gumbo that’s my favorite. Gumbo can easily lose its authenticity when you make it on a larger scale, but the way they make it is exactly what gumbo should taste like.”
In 2022, Poirier is increasing his reach beyond MMA fighting and philanthropy, launching a bourbon brand called Rare Stash. “When I drink, my go-to is whiskey,” he says. “I’ve always loved Scotch and Irish whiskey, and recently I really fell in love with bourbon.” Rare Stash blends limited lots of bourbon so that every batch is unique. As a co-founder and brand owner, Poirier has been involved in the launch as well as the bourbon itself, sampling and choosing which barrels will be included in the next rollout. “I just love the idea of each run being different,” he says. “It’s meant to be a collector’s bourbon.”