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UFC 291: Poirier vs Gaethje 2 - Jul 29 🇺🇸


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Posted (edited)

Back at high altitude in Salt Lake City, Utah with this beauty…

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PPV MAIN CARD
Dustin Poirier vs Justin Gaethje - BMF Title

Jan Blachowicz vs Alex Pereira 

Derrick Lewis vs Marcos Rogerio De Lima

Tony Ferguson vs Bobby Green 

Kevin Holland vs Michael Chiesa 

ESPN PRELIMS 
Trevin Giles vs Gabriel Bonfim

CJ Vergara vs Vinicius Salvador

Roman Kopylov vs Claudio Ribeiro

Jake Matthews vs Darrius Flowers

ESPN+/FIGHT PASS PRELIMS 
Matthew Semelsberger vs Uros Medic

Miranda Maverick vs Priscila Cachoeira 

 

What a card! This show is the result of Dana’s pathetic pettiness. His direct response to the announcement that Francis Ngannou had signed with PFL was to scramble to UFC headquarters, get the matchmakers out of bed and call an emergency meeting to throw this lot together. I’ll take it. Could do without the BMF shit but if that’s the cost in exchange for getting Poirier vs Gaethje 2 then it’s a small price to pay. As usual, the bout order is gonna change multiple times. I’ll edit as we go.

 

 

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Dustin Poirier vs Justin Gaethje 2 main events this bad boy. For the prestigious BMF belt. A championship exclusively for ‘Bad Mother Fuckers’. Cringey as hell and this fight certainly didn’t need a bollocks gimmick title belt attached to it but you know what the UFC are like. Unless it’s Conor McGregor, PPVs must be headlined by title fights or something. Even if it’s not a proper title. Whatever. It’s unnecessary but it doesn’t detract from what is gonna be as close as you can get to a guaranteed FOTY candidate. When you lock Poirier and Gaethje in a cage and give them 25 minutes to work with, there’s not really another outcome other than total bedlam for however long it lasts. They’ve both made their respective careers off basically being the MMA equivalent of Arturo Gatti and Mickey Ward. I don’t see why they’d break the habit of a lifetime this late in the game. It’s gonna be another dogfight.

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They squared off in the main event of a Fight Night back in April 2018. Quite possibly my favourite fight in the history of the Lightweight division. And you know that covers some ground. I haven’t seen it in a while and I think I’ve already reviewed it somewhere on here but I’ll definitely be revisiting it before this rematch regardless. Any excuse. It went into the 4th round and was an insane fight. Just an all-out war. I remember Gaethje giving him hell for the first few rounds and absolutely blasting him with a load of crippling leg kicks to the point it really looked like Poirier wasn’t gonna survive. But he dug deep and somehow came out in the 4th and just ended Gaethje.

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If I remember right, it was one of them where it kind of felt like that finishing barrage was almost a last ditch effort from Dustin. Had he not got Gaethje out of there then, I don’t think he could’ve held up much longer. And that says it all when you know how tough Poirier is. He went for broke and it paid off. Amazing fight.

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It was all respect post-fight and it’s remained the same throughout the 5 years since. Refreshing to see, to be honest. We all love a good rivalry and a big grudge match but when there’s no real animosity there, I don’t wanna see them fake it. And these two don’t need to fake beef to generate interest. They’re both ‘must see’ anyway. And against each other it’s just a recipe for something really special.

A lot has happened in both men’s careers since. And spookily, their records since fighting each other have mirrored each other. They’ve both gone 6-2 since that brutal battle in Glendale, Arizona. Both have scored 4 finishes and won 2 decisions. Both have beat Michael Chandler in barnburners at Madison Square Garden. And both men’s 2 losses in that timeframe were to Khabib Nurmagomedov and Charles Oliveira. It’s fate. They almost had to run it back. Usually I’d say with a fight as epic as their 2018 classic, it’s best not to do a rematch because it’s never gonna live up to expectations. But with these two, if it doesn’t surpass it they’ll at least come close.

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“My respect for Justin Gaethje came from spending over 20 minutes in the Octagon with him, bleeding. I’m a fan of his. Anytime he fights, I’m going to watch. He puts it all on the line every time, and those are the kind of fights I want to be involved in. We’re always talking about the Lightweight ‘most violent fighter’. I said I completed the triangle by beating him, beating Alvarez, beating Chandler, beating Conor. So we run it back for the most violent, call it the BMF, call it whatever you want.”

“I know what I’m going into. It’s a head-on collision and I’m not turning away. That’s what excites me. He likes to get into a car crash, it’s just that now he does it with a seatbelt on. I still see Justin Gaethje. The same guy. He’s doing a few things better but I still see me being the matador and touching this guy.” - Dustin Poirier

Poirier’s at that stage in his career now, and he’s been honest and vocal about it, where he’s only really interested in fights that excite him. There was talk of him fighting Beneil Dariush before this Gaethje rematch came together and I’d have liked to see that fight. But Poirier didn’t seem that arsed about that. It’s a shame and it’s a problem that’s plagued the Lightweight division where the established names just wanna keep fighting each other. But at the same time I kind of get it. And it’s not like Poirier’s avoiding Dariush for an easy option. The Gaethje fight had to be the single most punishing and brutal fight on Poirier of his entire career. For him to want to go back into that again, when he’s already 1-0 and could just leave it at that, is nuts in itself. Plus, the way it’s all worked out, I’m happier with this rematch and Benny vs Charles anyway.

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“Fighting Dustin Poirier was a great learning experience. Tons of respect for the dude. He’s a dog. And what he’s done to Conor McGregor the last couple of fights was super impressive. I always love to see that dude get broken. So this guy’s a dog and I know I’m going to have to be perfect. I know that there’s no need for animosity. We’re two of the best, most violent athletes in the sport. We both love what we do. We both love the carnage and we’re both content with what we’re about to put ourselves through.”

“I know for a fact when Dustin has to step in there with me again, he’s going to remember and be constantly analysing that night. He was probably in the most pain of his fucking life. If he doesn’t land the shot in the first round, he knows he’s going to have to go through that again.” - Justin Gaethje

To me there’s something more scary about guys like this. These two actually like each other. They respect each other. Yet they’re talking like this and you know they mean it. It’s not bullshit trash talk to “sell the fight”. It probably will help sell the fight anyway but that’s just a byproduct of them casually talking about inflicting GBH on each other for the sole purpose of just seeing who’s better.

There were a fair few doubters of Gaethje going into his fight with Rafael Fiziev on the London card in March. The way he lost to Khabib and Oliveira, I think a lot of people got carried away and unfairly kind of wrote him off as a bum. Or at least were acting like he was shot. For losing to two of the best 155ers ever! And even then he had Oliveira in all kinds of bother early. That Fiziev performance was one of Gaethje’s best though, in my opinion.

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It wasn’t all plain sailing and it wasn’t looking good for Gaethje early on. But despite Fiziev being the better technical striker and clearly the faster man in there, Gaethje was able to weather the initial storm and really bust him up as the fight went on. It was a cracker of a fight and just one more addition to an ever growing list of bangers Gaethje keeps putting out year on year. And with Poirier coming off submitting Chandler on the MSG card a few months earlier, it just lined up perfectly.

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“WAR II”

Love it. Poirier was on Helwani’s show recently and said he might try and bust out that hat for 291 fight week. Hope he does. Any homage to the great Marvin Hagler is good in my book. And while the word ‘war’ is overused in combat sports and few fighters are really worthy of rocking the Hagler hat, Poirier fits that role. And there’s no fight more appropriate to bring out the “WAR II” version than this one.

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I don’t have a clue who wins this fight. It’s weird but as invested as I am, I don’t even really care who wins. It’s definitely a fight in that same mould as Gatti vs Ward. The fight itself is the attraction and what you’re invested in, not so much winners and losers. Like is often the case with MMA fans, I’m sure most will pick Poirier to win because he won the first time. But really thinking back to that first fight, Gaethje had him on the fucking brink before Dustin rallied for the finish. I’d never use the word ‘quit’ when it comes to an animal like Poirier but there were a couple of times in that fight when it really looked like he was ready to break. Obviously, ultimately he didn’t. He battled through that and came out on top. Which makes that win even more impressive. Many would’ve folded, he bit down on the mouthpiece and pulled a TKO win from the jaws of a horrific defeat. But there were little distress signals in there that I don’t think I’ve ever seen from Poirier in any other fight. Whatever happens, I think the obvious move for the winner of this is Conor McGregor. Especially if he beats Chandler but, really, even if he loses that one, fuck it. It’s either Poirier vs McGregor 4 to settle the unfinished business or Gaethje vs McGregor which has been brewing for at least 3 years now. Fuck McGregor though. This fight deserves its own attention without that clown invading the narrative. If you haven’t picked up on it by now, I can’t wait for this fight. My birthday’s just before so this’ll be like a late birthday present for me.

 

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Jan Blachowicz vs Alex Pereira is a very interesting co-main event. Pereira making his move up to Light Heavyweight and being thrown straight in the deep end. I can’t even really picture this one. The change of weight class for Pereira plus the complete contrast in styles between him and Big Jan. Not sure what to expect out of it.

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Blachowicz is 40 years old now. Even by LHW standards, which isn’t so much of a young man’s division, it feels like he’s coming to the end now. He’s far from shot, he looked decent against Rakic from what I recall, before Rakic got injured. And he managed a draw with Ankalaev last time out, which, whatever. At least it wasn’t a loss. But it wasn’t that long ago he got absolutely schooled by old man Glover and, at 40, it just feels like he’s already peaked and it’s all gonna be downhill from here. He’s a decent fighter and I quite like him. He seems a likeable big lummox. But he’s definitely a guy who I think has benefitted massively from the lack of depth at 205 in recent years. And then again when Jon Jones disappeared for 3 years. Jan’s a former UFC champion, it’ll always be on his CV and nobody can take it away. But he won a vacated title off Dominick Reyes because Jones was off the grid. And that Reyes win hasn’t aged well at all. With that said, Jan’s probably still good enough, or the division is shallow enough for him to hover around that Top 5 for a bit yet.

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Pereira’s gonna be coming in with a point to prove in this one. We all know about his Kickboxing accolades by now. It was talked about to death from the time he signed his UFC contract. He’s a beast. A left hand like Thor’s hammer. It’s mad how quickly he got so popular but his whole persona coupled with his fighting style makes him easy to be a fan of. The combination of his emotionless, stoic facial expression and his hilarious trolling/stalking of Adesanya is one of my favourite things about him. That image of him seeing Izzy’s Pokémon toys on the telly and shaking his head in disgust will never not crack me up. But yeah, the laughing stopped at UFC 287 in April…

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Adesanya finally won one back. After going 0-2 to Pereira in their Kickboxing days and then getting stopped and losing the title to him in the UFC. Izzy finally got a bit of redemption that night in Miami. What a crazy rivalry and series of fights. I think most assumed we’d be getting yet another Adesanya vs Pereira fight after that. With them tied at 1-1 in MMA and Pereira still leading 3-1 overall across both sports, it felt inevitable that they’d do it again. But no. Dana immediately seemed disinterested when talking to the media post-fight. And Adesanya’s weirdly been completely shooting that talk down and not even entertaining the possibility of another fight. He’s acting like the rivalry is over now and he’s somehow won. Despite still technically being 1-3 down. Seems like he’s just happy to get the last laugh in the feud and never wants to see Pereira again. Part of me doesn’t blame him. Part of me thinks it’s a bit weak. They didn’t have to do it next but to just shut it down and act like the rivalry’s done after getting one win out of four tries, it’s a bit odd. But whatever. Maybe Pereira was already planning to move up to 205 anyway. There’s been talk for ages that he was a massive Middleweight and it must’ve been a rough cut getting down to 185. He’s huge. Just look at him here next to Tyson Fury…

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There was a video knocking around of their interaction and Fury even commented how big Pereira was in person. I think if it wasn’t for the fact Adesanya was already Middleweight champ, Pereira wouldn’t have even bothered with 185 and would’ve came into the UFC at 205 right off the bat. And Pereira’s gonna be 36 by the time this fight goes down. Time is of the essence. Fuck cutting weight.

Of course, Blachowicz already ruined Pereira’s buddy Izzy’s attempt at a 205 move a couple of years ago. I barely remember that fight now, to be honest, but I think it ended up coming down to Jan’s size and grappling advantage winning the decision for him. On paper, you’d fully expect him to go for the same tactics here. But while he’ll definitely hold a huge advantage in the grappling, I don’t think the size is going to be quite as much of a factor as it was with Izzy. As said above, Pereira’s a unit. And I actually think he might be more durable and maybe even more powerful at 205 because he won’t have had to drain himself down to 185. If Jan doesn’t get him down, I honestly think Pereira probably sleeps him. But there were big warning signs in the first UFC fight with Adesanya when it comes to Pereira’s lack of grappling. And if Adesanya was able to exploit that for spells, a bigger and more effective grappler like Jan will too. I hope Pereira wins in spectacular fashion. And I like Jan a lot. 205 badly needs some excitement though and there’s a ready made story there with current champ Jamahal Hill retiring Pereira’s friend/mentor Glover Teixeira a few months back.

 

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Derrick Lewis vs Marcos Rogerio De Lima then. A much needed step down in competition for the ‘Black Beast’ this. But, as much as it saddens me to say it, I’m still not confident he wins. I’d think he should, I don’t particularly rate De Lima, but I don’t know with Lewis anymore. I just don’t know.

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Love the bloke. So many great memories. Most of them not even in the fights themselves. Obviously there are some. The mental comeback KO against Volkov stands out. As does him obliterating wifebeater Travis Browne and the uppercut of doom against Curtis Blaydes. But most of the best moments from Big Derrick came during post-fight interviews or media scrums. The man’s hilarious and so effortlessly cool and likeable. In the cage I’ve always felt like he’s a weird mix of being overrated by some but often underrated as just a ‘character’ with no skills. He’s done well for himself though. But I think it’s been apparent, and became more apparent in recent fights, where his ceiling is in the division. And now at 38, it’s looking like he’s fading away. He’s been finished in his last 3 fights and got totally ragdolled before being submitted by Sergey Spivac in his last fight in February. Embarrassingly one sided. De Lima’s also 38 but he really hasn’t taken the punishment Lewis has. Like I said, I don’t think much of him. He’s your typical Heavyweight slug. Not pretty to watch and completely nondescript as a personality. But he’s won 3 of his last 4 and finished both Ben Rothwell and Andrei Arlovski in a round apiece. Not hugely impressive wins these days but it’s not a stretch to imagine him beating Lewis on Lewis’ current shaky form. Really fucking hope I’m wrong and Lewis flattens him. De Lima is the type of guy Lewis usually does beat. But yeah, I don’t know anymore.

 

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Tony Ferguson vs Bobby Green is just kind of sad to me at this stage. This would’ve probably been a tremendous fight between say 2015-2019. In 2023 not so much. I’m at the point now with Ferguson where I’ve just got zero faith or confidence in him anymore. I just don’t think there’s anything left. He was genuinely one of the top Lightweights in the world for a few years there. There’s good reason why that doomed Khabib fight was so anticipated. I got sucked in big time and probably gave Ferguson a better chance than he really had. Looking back, Khabib most likely was always winning that one. But it’s a fucking travesty it never happened. That’s always gonna be one of the biggest ‘ones that got away’ for me. It was the Fedor vs Cro Cop of 155 for me and the window closed on it. Now here we sit a few years later and Khabib’s retired and Ferguson’s shot.

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Sometimes one image just sums up a fighter’s decline better than a million words could. This is that image when it comes to Tony Ferguson. The wheels had already come off by the time Michael Chandler kicked his face off but when people think back to Tony’s decline in the future, this is the first thing that’s gonna spring to mind. Just a disgusting knockout. We’re now at the point where he’s lost his last 5 fights in a row and he looked bad in all of them. The horrific beating he took off Gaethje in 2020 seemed to be the breaking point and it’s been loss after loss ever since. With hindsight, Ferguson’s decline was always gonna be a bad one. The way he fought always relied heavily on his durability and toughness and his willingness to just outlast guys and break them through sheer refusal to go away. He actually got a longer run of success out of it than he probably should’ve but it’s been rough watching him of late. Bobby Green probably wrecks him, to be honest. Green’s a good fighter and he’s had some nights where he was better than good. But he’s not a guy I’d have picked to beat prime Ferguson. The timing massively favours him here though. I’m convinced that if Paddy Pimblett was healthy, we’d be seeing them feed Ferguson’s carcass to him on the London show a week before this card. Thankfully that tubby cunt’s knackered his ankle and we’ve been spared that shit. I’ve soured on Green lately but I’d rather him than Paddy. Feels like this is gonna be the real downer of the card. Just got a bad feeling about Ferguson. Even here, he’s fresh off getting arrested for a DUI in early May. Yet they’re wheeling him out for another twatting.

 

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Michael Chiesa vs Kevin Holland is a nice matchup to kick off the main card. I like it. Chiesa was all set to fight Li Jingliang at UFC 287 in April but ‘The Leech’ pulled out. Surprised it’s taken so long for Chiesa to get another fight booked but I’m not surprised it’s Holland who stepped up. Chiesa’s had a long layoff coming into this one. We last saw him in November 2021, losing a decision to Sean Brady. He got submitted by Vicente Luque before that as well so maybe he chose to take a break and recharge. He was on a pretty strong run before those losses, in fairness. He beat the shells of Carlos Condit and Diego Sanchez, which is whatever. But he also beat Rafael Dos Anjos and Neil Magny, which is legit. Don’t know what to expect out of him here though. Especially against someone like Holland who’s pretty active. He fought at 287 himself and knocked out Santiago Ponzinibbio that night. He also had that awesome fight with Wonderboy in December before that. The flaws in Holland’s game are common knowledge now. The wrestling is his biggest problem. So a strong grappler like Chiesa should really give him fits. But a near 2 year layoff at 35 years old is a bit odd. Should be a good fight to watch though.

 

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Trevin Giles vs Gabriel Bonfim will be worth checking out. I’m neither here nor there Giles. He’s a former copper, 16-4 record and coming off a couple of decision wins over Louis Cosce and Preston Parsons. He does have some more notable wins from earlier on in his career over the likes of Brendan Allen, Ryan Spann, James Krause and Roman Dolidze. But nothing has stood out about him recently. His fights just come and go. Bonfim is why you wanna be tuning in for this one. Him and his brother Ismael both made their Octagon debuts at UFC 283 in Brazil in January and, for me, they stole the show. Ismael with his big flying knee KO was the main highlight reel moment but Gabriel’s debut wasn’t too shabby either…

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He caught Mounir Lazzez in a guillotine choke and had him tapping just 49 seconds into the first round! Couldn’t ask for a much better introduction to the big leagues. It’s not like Lazzez is anything special but he’s also not a guy you’d expect to be getting finished in under a minute either. Bonfim just ran right over him. He’s perfect in his career so far as well. He turns 26 a few weeks after this fight and he’s undefeated at 14-0, all finishes and was LFA champ before the UFC snatched him up. Looking forward to seeing more of him and his brother.

 

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CJ Vergara vs Vinicius Salvador is a fight I probably wouldn’t have been that fussed about before seeing Vergara’s last fight. He went up against Daniel Lacerda on the San Antonio card in March and they tore the house down. It was just a throwaway prelim that I don’t think anyone was expecting that much from but they had one of the best fights of the year so far.

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A round and a half of utter mayhem. They got FOTN and it was well deserved. The Flyweights deserve more love, more spotlight and higher billing on the Fight Nights. They nearly always deliver. Vergara coming back from that disastrous opening round to finish Lacerda was wild. Salvador fought the same night and lost on points to Victor Altamirano. Can’t say I really remember him but whatever. I’ll give it a look for Vergara after that last fight.

 

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Roman Kopylov vs Claudio Ribeiro. Decent. I’ve been indifferent to Kopylov since he signed with the UFC a few years back but he’s finished Alessio Di Chirico and Punahele Soriano in his last two fights. Maybe he’s turned a corner. The Soriano fight in January was his best showing in the UFC to date by far. I remember some particularly nasty body kicks that just crumbled Soriano, who’s usually a durable bastard. There was no gritting the teeth and toughing that shit out though. Kopylov’s kicks just sapped the life out of him. Ribeiro seems the type who will bring out the best of him as well and force an action fight. He’s 10-3 with 9 knockouts, 8 in the first round. He made his UFC debut in January against fellow KO artist Abdul Razak Alhassan and got stopped in the second round.

 

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Jake Matthews vs Darrius Flowers. Not sure. Matthews blows hot and cold big time. He’ll look good one fight, really flat the next. I think the fact he was so young when he came into the UFC made people just think that age was on his side and he’d get there eventually. He’s still only 28 now, which is mad when you think about how long it feels like he’s been around. Made his UFC debut in 2014! The prospect tag is long gone at this point though. He’s now an 11 year veteran with 24 fights under his belt. And still inconsistent as fuck. He had a really strong performance on the Singapore card last year when he knocked out Andre Fialho but then reverted to form and got beat by Matthew Semelsberger last time out. It’s just not panning out for him. He was meant to face Miguel Baeza here but Baeza is out. In steps Octagon newcomer Flowers. He’s also 28 and has a record of 12-5-1 with 9 finishes. He’s coming off a quick TKO win on DWCS last August.

 

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Matthew Semelsberger vs Uros Medic. Might be alright. Semelsberger is usually in entertaining fights. He’s had mixed results in the UFC but, win or lose, I don’t recall him being boring at any point. He’s got knockout wins over Jason Witt and Martin Sano Jr in 15 and 16 seconds respectively, beat Jake Matthews on points, lost a decent split decision to Jeremiah Wells in his last fight. He comes to scrap. It’s all pretty low level stuff but at least he’s not dull. We haven’t seen Medic for over a year now, he got a TKO win over Omar Morales in May last year and has been inactive since. He’s 8-1 with the only loss coming against Jalin Turner, which isn’t bad. All his wins came inside the distance. Has the makings of a fun filler fight.

 

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Miranda Maverick vs Priscila Cachoeira isn’t setting the world alight. It was originally Cachoeira against Joanne Wood which wasn’t much better but at least it had a bit of a babyface vs heel element to it. I was hoping Wood would chin her. She’s out, Maverick’s in and I’m completely indifferent to it now. I’d still rather Maverick win though. Cachoeira’s a twat. I’ve said before, I’ve rooted against her ever since she blatantly and deliberately tried to gouge Gillian Robertson’s eye out to escape a submission, then brushed it off and acted like it was a mistake. As a fighter she’s not very good but I’ll admit she’s not usually boring either. Maverick should beat her but I’m not exactly confident she does. She’s 11-5 and coming off a fairly clear cut decision loss to Jasmine Jasudavicius at UFC 289 in June. I’ve been saying for a while that I thought she had a bit of potential, not champion level but decent. That Jasudavicius made me rethink that though. She’s just turned 26 so in theory she’s got some time. But it seems like she’s going nowhere. Like I say though, she really should be winning this. If she can’t beat Cachoeira, there’s no hope for her.

 

WAR II

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Edited by wandshogun09
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Need to get involved in some of the hype for this. I used to watch the countdowns and embedded series all the time, but haven't done for a long time, but this card is amazing! 

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Posted (edited)

There’s been a lot of speculation that with Jamahal Hill vacating the Light Heavyweight belt, they might make Blachowicz vs Pereira a title fight on this card. Well, I don’t know if this is a mistake but it’s doing the rounds…

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Edit - oh well it was a nice thought.

 

 

Edited by wandshogun09
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Yep.

On 6/3/2023 at 2:02 AM, wandshogun09 said:

Paulo Costa vs Ikram Aliskerov is ***WAND’S ONE TO WATCH*** on this card but, and I don’t wanna jinx it, it does have the feel of a fight destined to not actually happen. 

Obviously what we’re getting now (Costa vs Khamzat) is better. And this card is strong enough that it doesn’t suffer too much losing this fight. But still, it was that barmy sounding fight in the middle of the main card that I was really looking forward to. Oh well. 

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Looking forward to this now. Really stacked card!

Think I went Gaethje in the poll but not really convinced on that pick, really could go either way. Should be a hell of a fight though!

Gone for Pereira, think he will get the ko late in the first. Still surprised they didn’t slap the interim title on this. Got to assume they have something else in mind. 
 

Do we think this could be Tony’s last fight?  Another bad loss here surely singles the end? 

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Nah, Tony is going to do a Bigfoot Silva. 

He was on the other day about winning five more fights and fighting for a title. Obviously not going to happen, but it's the talk of a man that's not going to be able to walk away whenever it looks time/past time that he should. 

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Posted (edited)

Still gonna try to squeeze a rewatch of Poirier vs Gaethje 1 in later when the kids are in bed. But I reviewed it a few years ago in that ‘Top 25 Fights of 2010-19’ thread on here. I had it as the 11th best fight of the last decade apparently. Here it is if you’re interested…

On 1/24/2020 at 9:38 PM, wandshogun09 said:

A4-E1-E993-06-AC-4749-A70-E-9-FBD8-E4-C5

#11 - Dustin Poirier vs Justin Gaethje - UFC Fight Night - Apr 18th 2018

This one is still fairly fresh in the memory but, fuck it, I’ll happily watch it again. This was another fight with no backstory to speak of. Just a fun fight for the sake of a fun fight. Fine by me. It was just one of those matchups where you can chuck them on as a Fight Night headliner and you know it’s going to be at worst entertaining and at best a FOTY candidate.

Poirier at this time was on a hot streak. He’d been through some rough patches at Featherweight earlier in his career. He lost a fantastic fight against Korean Zombie in 2012 (that one just narrowly missed this countdown) and, of course, he got slept by Conor McGregor in 2014. He moved up to Lightweight after the McGregor loss and put some nice wins together. But when Michael Johnson sparked him in a round in 2016, I think everyone kind of wrote Poirier off as far as being a player in the division went. He came back strong though and in 2017 he beat Jim Miller, had a great fight with Eddie Alvarez that ended in a No Contest but most felt Poirier was winning, then he beat Anthony Pettis. All really good fights as well. He was back on track heading into 2018.

For Gaethje, this was his first fight since suffering his first loss against Eddie Alvarez in that slobberknocker I covered above. He’d gone 18-0 before that, 16 finishes, WSOF champ etc. And despite being 1-1 in the UFC at this point, he was 2-for-2 for legit FOTY contenders in 2017. He’d made quite an impression. This was his chance to redeem himself against another top contender.

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Dustin Poirier vs Justin Gaethje

UFC Fight Night: Poirier vs Gaethje 

April 18th 2018

Glendale, Arizona

Tyron Woodley and Michael Bisping are both predicting a Poirier win during the pre-fight analysis. Anik, Cormier and Cruz are commentating.

“I’m coming to beat his ass and he’s coming to do the same. The fans are in for a treat. Buckle up, enjoy the ride.” - Dustin Poirier

Arizona born Gaethje is getting the big hometown boy reaction during his walkout.

Round 1: Well there were questions going in about how Gaethje would look coming off his first loss. Would it make him less aggressive at all? Within seconds that’s answered and it’s a resounding ‘no’. He’s coming right at Poirier from the off and landing those horrible Tong Po leg kicks. Poirier is moving around and landing the cleaner punches though. He’s still eating the leg kicks but he’s making Gaethje pay with combinations every time. He’s clearly the better striker technically but Gaethje makes up for that by being a bloody nutcase.

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Sweet combo from Poirier and he’s starting to pick Gaethje apart now. But Gaethje is firing back. Poirier is looking sharp as fuck but Gaethje keeps whipping in those inside leg kicks and you just know they’re money in the bank if the fight goes long.

“This is what we expected. These guys are fighting in a phone booth. Poirier’s gonna have to get some respect and get Justin moving back a little bit.” - Daniel Cormier

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Hard shots from Poirier late in the round. Gaethje is stupid tough but Poirier is landing a LOT here. Poirier 10-9.

Gaethje is asking his corner who won that round and Trevor Wittman screeches “YOU DID!” In his own little annoying Trevor Wittman way. He didn’t win the round though. Wittman is a big filthy high pitched voice having fibber.

Round 2: Picking up right where they left off. Poirier busting him up with his boxing and his body kicks and Gaethje is just walking through it and blasting kicks at his legs. And it’s starting to pay off now.

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Poirier is visibly feeling it now. He can’t mask it like he did earlier. I’m wincing myself at some of them. And to piss in his wounds, Gaethje pokes him in the eye. Both landing punches. And Gaethje is getting through more now than he was earlier. Probably because all those leg kicks have hindered Poirier’s movement. They’re both fucking going for it! Poirier has actually starting going for takedowns. His leg must be trashed. Gaethje keeps it standing, lands a few hard shots and busts out a rolling thunder kick thingy at the buzzer...

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Maniac. Close round. Both landed a lot. I felt like Gaethje took it 10-9 though.

Poirier looks in agony as they await the start of the third round. And Gaethje is on the opposite side grinning from ear to ear and trying to amp the crowd up more. He’s loving life. Must be fucking demoralising fighting someone like that. You can barely stand and you’ve dished out about a zillion punches in 10 minutes. You get off the stool, look across the cage and the mad twat’s having the time of his life.

Round 3: Gaethje bringing it again. He just refuses to fuck off for even a second. Poirier actually gets a takedown finally but Gaethje pops right back up. The pressure from Gaethje is insane. He lands a hard right that makes Poirier stumble...

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He definitely looks troubled by it and Gaethje follows up with a hard elbow in close against the fence. Gaethje has him against the cage and is landing uppercuts and kneeing the already smashed up legs. God this is turning into a right miserable fight for Poirier.

More leg kicks. Do you reckon Gaethje watched Karate Kid 3 much growing up?

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”If a man can’t stand he can’t fight.” - Terry The Bastard Silver

Gaethje’s butchering Poirier’s legs. I’m actually starting to feel sorry for Poirier. And we’re still only at the halfway point of the fight. He’s now making feeble attempts to grab Gaethje’s legs for some kind of weak takedown. He wants no more of them leg kicks and I don’t blame him one bit. Poirier gets poked in the eye again. Christ almighty. This is a living hell for poor Dustin. Herb Dean docks a point from Gaethje but I don’t think that’s much consolation at this point. Poirier is suffering. The doctor checks him and Poirier says he’s OK. They fight on and now Poirier pokes Gaethje in the eye as the round ends. 9-9 with the point deduction. Maybe 9-8 Gaethje though, to be honest.

Both look worse for wear in between rounds.

Round 4: They both seem to have an urgency about them here and almost right away Poirier fucking stuns him with a straight left! Gaethje’s legs are all over the place and Poirier follows up with a flurry of punches and finally puts Gaethje down...

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Mental.

Herb Dean has seen enough and waves it off. Gaethje didn’t go out but I thought it was a good stoppage. He looked fucked and it was most likely only going to get worse. Herb saved him. Incredible comeback from Poirier.

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Winner - Dustin Poirier by TKO. Round 4 - 0:33.

Nutty fight. Poirier showed a lot about what kind of fighter and how tough of a man he really is here. It felt like he was heading to getting stopped all through those 2nd and 3rd rounds. His leg was done, his vision was impaired from the eye pokes, he’d been hurt with punches. And he had the perfect chance at the end of the 3rd to get out of the fight when the doctor was checking on him. All he had to do was keep squinting the eye and not responding to his questions. If he wanted a way out, he was handed it. But he went beyond that mental barrier and came out and blitzed Gaethje at the start of the next round. This was a real turning point for Poirier, in my opinion. He’d kind of choked in the big fights before this. This win felt like he’d turned a corner as a fighter and it ultimately set him up for those big Holloway and Khabib fights in 2019.

I’ve seen a few suggestions online that these two rematch while the whole Khabib, Ferguson, McGregor, Masvidal, Diaz saga plays out this year. Wouldn’t be against that at all. I think McGregor vs Gaethje would be the better fight to make but I’d certainly not turn my nose up at Poirier vs Gaethje 2. 

 

Edited by wandshogun09
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5 hours ago, WeeAl said:

Nah, Tony is going to do a Bigfoot Silva. 

 

Yeah, talk of barely hitting his prime is typical Ferguson delusion. It's crazy to think where he's fallen from. Anyone fancy him against Green? Ferguson is a huge underdog, and Bobby Green appears on a skid himself, just shows how far Ferguson's stock has dropped.

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Yeah Green’s decent but he’s a guy I’d have expected prime Tony Ferguson to handle. Now I’m fully expecting Ferguson to get knocked out. Just zero confidence in him at this point.

In other news, Michel Pereira came in 3lbs over the weight limit and it’s unknown whether the fight with Wonderboy is going ahead. 

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41 minutes ago, wandshogun09 said:

In other news, Michel Pereira came in 3lbs over the weight limit and it’s unknown whether the fight with Wonderboy is going ahead. 

Ah bollocks, I’ve been looking forward to that fight ever since it was announced.

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The main card has Card Of The Year written all over it. In the same way that Poirier/Gaethje has a 0.1% chance of being disappointing, I think the same can be said about Ferguson/Green. That fight is super interesting. Its guaranteed to be a standup fight for the duration, so it will be really interesting to see if Tony can outclass Green, or will Green dominate an over the hill Tony, or will it be a really competitve fight with a close decision. Really looking forward to it!

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