Dustin Poirier is happy to have the longest layoff of his career behind him.

Poirier (26-6 MMA, 18-5 UFC), a former UFC interim lightweight champion, is even happier his layoff concluded ended in victory. In the UFC on ESPN 12 main event, Poirier went toe-to-toe with fellow contender Dan Hooker. After 25 minutes, Poirier earned a unanimous decision victory.

“It was a tough one, man,” Poirier told the UFC after the fight. “Dan came to fight. He’s a tough guy. He’s on the rise and really thought he was going to get passed me. He talked a lot of trash, like, he was going to move forward and fight the champ — but I’m the champ. This is what I love to do. I put all the work in. I trust in my team, skill, and work ethic. I came here, pulled another one out, and had a few more rounds in me.”

While he is pleased he won, Poirier indicated he thinks there’s a lot of work that still needs to be done. Reflecting on his “Fight of the Night” with Hooker (20-9 MMA, 10-5 UFC), Poirier thinks there were some adjustments he could have made.

“I could have been a little bit sharper,” Poirier said. “I didn’t move out of the way of a few shots. It’s not that I disrespected Dan’s power, but I stayed in the pocket too long. I should have been sharper. At the end, I started getting in my range and countering off his lazy shots. I landed some good ones and made his head snap back. I was stealing the rounds with shots like that, but I can do better.”

As for what’s next, Poirier isn’t sure when he’ll return. His previous fight before Saturday was a losing title challenge against UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov at UFC 242 in September. The defeat didn’t sit well with Poirier. However, now that he’s coming off a win, he’s eager to continue his ascent up the 155-pound ladder.

“Maybe I’ll fight at the end of the year,” Poirier said. “Maybe I’ll fight next year. I just want to go home to my daughter. I’m a winner and it was a long time off. It was the longest break in my career. I had to take nine months off and sit on the sidelines. I had to overcome some stuff.

“Now that I’m a victor again, I want to get back to the drawing board. I want to keep getting better. I want to stay in love with this sport. I don’t want to push myself so much to where I hate this. I’ve been doing this a long time and pushing myself to the limits every day. So I just want to do it right.”