Dustin Poirier and Justin Gaethje is a dream matchup for anyone who likes action on the feet. Poirier (22-5, 1 NC) is making a surge toward his first lightweight title shot after eight years in the organization. He has racked up four fight of the night bonuses in the UFC and is a threat to knock anyone out. Speaking of knockouts, Poirier will face Justin Gaethje (18-1) who has only seen the final bell in two of his fights. Gaethje has two fights in the UFC and both of them made the list of top 25 UFC fights of all time. This one is sure to be a war.
Poirier quietly makes a run toward the belt
With all the craziness going on in the UFC Lightweight Division, it is easy to forget about fighters like Dustin Poirier who are quietly climbing up the rankings toward a title fight. After a controversial no contest with Eddie Alvarez, Poirier knocked out Anthony Pettis in the third round of a main event in November. He is now the fifth ranked lightweight in the world. With wins over the likes of Max Holloway, Jim Miller, Yancy Medeiros, and Bobby Green he has established himself as one of the best fighters in the promotion.
Poirier is one of those fighters that always brings it. He is likely more skilled as an all around martial artist than Gaethje and has very few weak spots. He is an accomplished striker with 11 knockouts in his professional career. Poirier does a great job of mixing up punches and kicks and can throw deadly knees from the clinch. If the fight goes to the ground, Poirier will be just as comfortable. We have not seen him on the ground for too long lately but he is a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt with six submission victories on his record. The only time Poirier was submitted in his career, he refused to tap to a D’Arce from Chan Sung Jung and was put to sleep. “The Diamond” is ready to throw down but will be able to roll with the punches and feel confident no matter where the fight goes.
Justin Gaethje is ready for another bonus
Justin “The Highlight” Gaethje earned his nickname. He has recorded 16 knockouts in his 18 victories and defended his World Series of Fighting belt five times. Gaethje was signed to the UFC in 2017 and defeated Michael Johnson in the 2017 Fight of the Year. Next, he was handed the first loss of his career when he was knocked out by a knee from Eddie Alvarez in a Fight of the Night that could be a 2018 Fight of the Year candidate. Gaethje has a philosophy that he is either going to score a knockout or get knocked out trying. That creates a lot of amazing fights but it can also be a worrisome strategy when it comes to fighting top-ranked UFC talent.
Because of his brawling style, many people forget that Gaethje is a Division I All-American wrestler. If he gets winded in this five round fight, he always has the option of taking Poirier down and dealing some ground and pound which he did plenty of in the World Series of Fighting. With that being said, Gaethje’s first option is always to strike. He has devastating leg kicks and has actually stopped three fights with them in the past. He stated his intention to “kick his leg off” before this fight so the kicks will play a factor, especially in such a long fight.
Dustin Poirier is one of those Swiss Army Knife fighters. He can win any style of fight and has far more tools than Gaethje. If Gaethje takes him down, he will have a chance to catch him in a submission as the far more accomplished grappler. If the fight stays on the feet, do not count Poirier out. He has great boxing and is known to throw painful body kicks. If he can land kicks to the body early, he could tire Gaethje out and get a finish in the championship rounds.
Justin Gaethje has the intangibles that could win this fight. He loves getting into a war and will never back down from a firefight. That mentality can lure other fighters into his brawling style. Poirier seems to have a desire to stand and trade with Gaethje which is exactly what he wants. Look for Gaethje to establish the leg kicks early, limiting Poirier’s movement by the second half of the fight. That is when Justin Gaethje will go in for the kill and earn a win.
Gaethje by TKO
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