Dustin Poirier vs Diego Brandao: UFC 168 'Fight of the Night' early pick

Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

A battle between two very relevant featherweights, Dustin Poirier vs. Diego Brandao, is set to go down tonight (Sat., Dec. 28, 2013) at UFC 168, kicking off the pay-per-view (PPV) portion of the blockbuster card. And their aggressive styles could deliver the "Fight of the Night" if all goes according to action-packed plan.

Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) boasts a Featherweight division that is perhaps among one of its strongest weight classes. Fighters at all levels are capable of taking each other out, making for several very interesting fights.

At UFC 168, which takes place later tonight (Sat., Dec. 28, 2013) at MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada, is one such match up between Dustin Poirier and Diego Brandao. Even though Poirier is deservedly higher ranked than Brandao, this could be a very even, competitive fight.

Both of these men -- like much of the 145-pound division -- are dangerous everywhere, able to push one another for much of the fight. Poirier's striking focuses on a more poised, composed attack, whereas Brandao's is highly aggressive and flashy, too.

Poirier's striking game is a fairly simple one: He throws good punches and decent kicks, but doesn't do anything particularly special. His success when striking is based largely on his ability to take initiative because his defense isn't the best and he doesn't deal with pressure very well. When moving back, his strikes become almost panicked, opening him to counters when he leaves his head exposed.

Brandao's striking is much different from Poirier's, with a more dynamic, flashy approach. His kicks are very good and are a constant threat to his opponent's body, legs and head. His boxing, while somewhat raw, is still very threatening. His movement and footwork are very good, and his defense is reliable enough to keep him in fights with other qualified strikers.

These men are both also very effective when the fight hits the mat, with both fighters having strong submission skills and positional games.

Poirier's takedowns are solid and he can go for them from the clinch and from striking range, while his positional game is surprisingly dominant. With this powerful top game, Poirier is more than capable of submitting opponents or finishing them with ground-and-pound.

Brandao -- who focuses more on striking -- tends to focus his wrestling ability more on stopping takedowns than using them himself, but he is effective in bringing down his opponent down if he wants. His defense is effective, but not perfect, becoming noticeably worse as the fight drags on. His Brazilian jiu-jitsu skills are above average, able to latch on submissions with very quick set ups and transitions. He is the type of fighter who will make an opponent pay for the smallest of mistakes with one noticeable example coming in his submission win over Dennis Bermudez, which made him The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 14 champion.

This fight is one that will probably change as it progresses with Brandao's cardio being a big factor. If he can maintain his pace, he may be able to push Poirier back and give him more than he can handle; however, if he starts to slow down, expect Poirier to begin winning in more striking exchanges and bringing down Brandao to the mat.

In a back-and-forth affair, expect both of these men to look for a finish. With both men possessing high-level abilities in all areas of MMA, this should be a fight that sees a lot of action no matter where it ends up, making it a very interesting, exciting fight.

And, perhaps, the UFC 168 "Fight of the Night" when all is said and done in "Sin City."

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