Two highly entertaining featherweights waged war inside the Octagon last night (Dec. 15, 2012) as talented youngster Dustin Poirier battled Jonathan Brookins in the opening bout of The Ultimate Fighter 16 Finale main card in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Both Brookins and Poirier had been competitive in the division but were coming in off submission stoppage defeats. Both young fighters had made some drastic changes in their training, moving to new gyms to help fix their faults and both men came out of the gate like they were possessed.
So why was Poirier ultimately able to come out on top?
Poirier came out swinging heavy leather, but Brookins blasted him with a solid counter shot early, backing him against the fence where both featherweights unloaded into each other with heavy punches during a wild exchange. Brookins got the better of it, but Poirier used his wrestling to clinch and clear out the cobwebs.
Whenever Brookins would land a big shot, Poirier's response would be to fire back with big bombs instead of defending himself. While Brookins was doing a great job with improved striking, his kept with his head straight up in the air during his striking, which allowed Poirier to tag him. Commentator Joe Rogan noticed it by the midway point of the round and Poirier capitalized with a perfect right hand counter, which stunned him along the fence.
With Brookins hurt, Poirier overwhelmed him with some heavy shots along the fence and he locked in a D'Arce choke the instant Brookins shot in for a desperation takedown attempt, forcing The TUF 12 winner to tap out.
For Jonathan Brookins, he actually did several things correctly. His counter striking was on point, he used good straight punches when he was at distance and even opened the fight up with a solid shot to the body. He was outstriking Poirier in the opening minutes, but his bad habits reared their ugly head and cost him the fight. He has a horrible tendency to fight with his chin completely exposed instead of tucked away and it was easy pickings for Poirier once he settled down a bit, rocking Brookins on multiple occasions before the fight finish. Brookins has power and improving technique. If he can shore up this bad habit, he can still be a player in the division.
For Dustin Poirier, he put on a wild show, but he's really got to work on this tendency to completely throw wild punches with reckless abandon. Sure, his offensive output is ridiculous, but it leaves him wide open to a good counter striker. He was lucky that Brookins is still developing his stand-up game because a good technical counter puncher would have torn him up last night. He needs to relax a bit instead of going 100 miles per hour the entire time and he'll be so much better off. That being said, he did a great job of bouncing back from a rough start, taking the fight to Brookins and then putting him away with some sweet redemption, a D'Arce choke, the same choke he was defeated by Chan Sung Jung with earlier this year in his first UFC defeat.
So what did you think, Maniacs?
Was this fight a terrific way to open up the TUF 16 Finale main card or what? Do you think either of these featherweights can put it together for a run to the top of the division after last night's brawl?