Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Lightweight scrappers Dustin Poirier and Bobby Green will throw down this Saturday (June 4, 2016) at The Forum in Inglewood, California.
Poirier established himself as a top fighter at Featherweight, but failed to secure a title shot. Since moving up to Lightweight, "The Diamond" looks better than ever and has picked up some serious momentum.
After winning four straight fights and landing a position in the Top 10, Green came up short in his last bout. Well over a year has gone by since that time, and Green is looking to remind fight fans that he's an elite veteran.
Let's take a look at the keys to victory for both athletes:
Key Wins: Joseph Duffy (UFC 195), Carlos Diego Ferrira (UFC Fight Night 63), Erick Koch (UFC 164)
Key Losses: Connor McGregor (UFC 178), Cub Swanson (UFC on FUEL TV 7), Chan Sung Jung (UFC on FUEL TV 3)
Keys to Victory: It's pretty rare for a 27 year old to already be a five year Octagon veteran, but that's the position Poirier finds himself in. He can credit that success to the well-rounded nature of his skill set, as Poirier is more than capable of blasting his opponents en route to the KO or grinding them into the mat.
Stylistically, this is a very interesting match up. Both men are pretty comfortable wherever the fight goes, and neither is outclassed in any one area.
With that in mind, Poirier needs to take his time and feel his opponent out. For example, if Poirier closes the distance and feels stronger than his foe, looking to wrestle with Green wouldn't be a bad idea.
The Louisianian does have six submission wins to his credit after all.
If the takedown doesn't come, Poirier should be fine with kickboxing against Green as well. In that case, Poirier should look to fully utilize his range and out-work his foe from the outside, much like Edson Barboza did.
Key Wins: Josh Thomson (UFC on FOX 12), Pat Healy (UFC on FOX 9), Jacob Volkmann (UFC 156)
Key Losses: Edson Barboza (UFC Fight Night 57)
Keys to Victory: Like his opponent, Green is a well-rounded finisher. Having split his 17 finishes almost equally between knockouts and submissions, Green is clearly a threat wherever the fight goes.
In this bout, I'd like to see Green really focus on being the aggressor. It's likely to be a close scrap, and aggression can often be the decider in who earns the decision victory.
That ended up costing him in his last bout, as Barboza racked up points while Green tried to no-show his opponent's punches and kicks.
There are some other positives for Green to go on the offensive. For one, he's a very durable fighter and hits plenty hard himself. That could be an issue for Poirier, who's been dropped a few times in the last couple years.
Additionally, Green could look to pressure Poirier into the fence and wrestle. While Poirier isn't a weak wrestler by any means, Green could out-muscle the former Featherweight.
Bottom Line: This should be a quality scrap between high-level Lightweights.
Poirier is on a serious win streak. In three fights, he violently knocked out a pair of quality fighters before handing one of the division's best prospects a harsh lesson. If he can extend that win streak here, he'll be within a couple wins of a title shot.
Alternatively, a loss sends Poirier to the bottom of the ladder once more. He's still a top contender, but there's just so many other talented Lightweights that a loss is always costly.
That's especially true for Bobby Green, coming off a loss and a long layoff. If he loses his second straight bout, he may even fall out of the top 15.
However, this is also a major opportunity for "King." As mentioned, Poirier has quickly risen into the mix, so it would be a major accomplishment for Green to derail him. In fact, it could propel Green back into the top 10.
At UFC 199, Dustin Poirier will face off with Bobby Green to open up the main card. Which fighter will have his hand raised?