This Wednesday night (April 16, 2014) Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) featherweights Dustin Poirier and Akira Corassani will face off on the main card of The Ultimate Fighter (TUF): "Nations" Finale, airing live at 7 p.m. EST on FOX Sports 1 from Colisee Pepsi in Quebec City, Quebec, Canada.
No. 6-ranked Poirier was last seen defeating TUF 14 winner Diego Brandao with a first round technical knockout at UFC 168, a fight before which Brandao badly missed weight and threatened to stab Poirier in the neck with a pen. Poised to make a run at a 145-pound title shot, "Diamond" will need to hand Corassani his first-ever UFC loss to do it.
With victories in 10 of his last 11 mixed martial arts (MMA) bouts, TUF 14 alum Corassani was last seen winning via disqualification at December 2013's TUF 18 Finale after Maximo Blanco nailed him with an illegal knee and broke his nose in five places.
Corassani will face his toughest test in the hard-nosed "Diamond." Let's take a look at the keys to victory for Poirier vs. Corassani:
Record: 15-3 overall, 7-2 UFC
Key Wins: Erik Koch (UFC 164), Diego Brandao (UFC 168), Jonathan Brookins (TUF 16 Finale), Max Holloway (UFC 143)
Key Losses: Cub Swanson (UFC on Fuel TV 7), Chan Sung Jung (UFC on Fuel TV 3)
Record: 12-3(1) overall, 3-0 UFC
Key Wins: Andy Ogle (UFC on Fuel TV 5), Robbie Peralta (UFC on Fuel TV 9)
Key Losses: None
With his only two UFC losses coming to highly ranked contenders Cub Swanson and Chan Sung Jung, Poirier has proven himself an incredibly tough out in a division stacked full of worthy competitors. However, he's lacking that one true defining win. Unfortunately for him, the unranked Corassani won't fit that bill.
He still has to keep winning to keep inching closer towards a coveted title shot, and the best way to do that is to use his rapidly improving striking. Since making his way to American Top Team (ATT), Poirier has been absorbing the knowledge of the top-level talent anchored there. Corassani has been knocked out in each of his three losses, and he only has one striking stoppage win of his own.
Possessing a black belt in Tae Kwon Do, Corassani has largely preferred to outpoint his opponents on the feet, but he also has three submissions. Trying to stick and move against the ultra-aggressive Poirier isn't likely to end well for him.
"Diamond" has a brown belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu that has earned him six submissions, and he should outclass Corassani on the mat. The deck is stacked against the Swedish TUF alum here. He has to avoid power shots and continually maintain position against a dangerous ranked opponent.
It could be a long night for the charismatic Corassani.
With Dustin Poirier looking like a motivated future title contender, it's kind of strange to see him booked against an unranked challenger like Corassani.
Still, he's undefeated in UFC and could shock the world, but I don' see it happening. Look for Poirier to push the pace early and often, softening Corassani up with a bevy of strikes to continue staking his claim at a fight against featherweight champion Jose Aldo.
Final Prediction: Poirier def. Corassani via technical knockout