Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Lightweight contenders Dustin Poirier and Anthony Pettis clashed last night (Nov. 11, 2017) at UFC Fight Night 120 inside the Ted Constant Convocation Center in Norfolk, Virginia.
It’s been a couple years since Poirier transitioned to the Lightweight division, and things have generally been working out for “The Diamond.” Still, Poirier didn’t want to get trapped outside the top five a second time, so it was vital for him to take out the former champion.
This was a high stakes bout for Pettis. He won his return to 155 lbs. in clear fashion, but Jim Miller is no longer a top fighter. This was the true test of whether or not Pettis remained a top-tier fighter, and it said big things about his future in the division.
Poirier made his intentions clear quickly, pressuring Pettis while the former champ fired kicks in his direction. He scored a brief takedown, but Pettis attacked with submissions and scrambled back up after eating a few heavy shots.
Pettis landed well from the outside, but Poirier kept the pressure on and put his foe against the fence. From there, Poirier scored with massive power punches that did a lot of damage to his foe's face.
Pettis landed a big uppercut near the bell, and both men were wearing the effects of five hard minutes of combat.
Poirier returned to his takedowns against the fence to start the second. From top position, he quickly began to hammer away on his bloody foe, which helped him advance into the back mount.
With the aid of his own blood, Pettis was able to spin into top control. He then took Poirier's back briefly, but "The Diamond" slipped out the back door with a big slam. That same exact sequence happened again moments later, as Pettis took the back and lost it painfully. From the guard, Pettis threw up triangles and arm bars, but the blood kept allowing Poirier to escape.
He finished the round by battering "Showtime" with ground strikes.
Poirier hit another takedown along the fence at the beginning of the third. Once more, Poirier advanced into the back mount. This time, there was no quick escape from Pettis. In fact, pressure from back control affected Pettis battered ribs, ultimately forcing him to submit.
This was an absolute brawl, and Poirier's grit and power saw him pull ahead. Both men are shots powerfully enough to make them reconsider their approach, but it was Poirier who maintained his dual-pronged approach of power punches and takedowns. When he managed to get Pettis in a bad position along the fence or on the mat, he made the most of it and did serious damage.
That damage added up quickly. In fact, Pettis' blood paid a major factor in the grappling exchanges from the second round on. It helped Pettis escape some bad spots, but it also made it tremendously difficult for Pettis to play guard. Whenever Pettis attacked from his back, Poirier pulled away and dropped bombs.
The finish was odd, but that shouldn't take away from Poirier's performance.
Following this win, it's time for Poirier to receive a top five opponent. Any of them will due, but Poirier has officially added his name to the list of Lightweights deserving a title eliminator.
Meanwhile, Pettis should not be ashamed of his performance. He was bullied by Poirier, but he also landed some killer strikes of his own and was slick on the mat. It was a fantastic main event for each second that it lasted, and Pettis certainly deserves credit for his part in this slugfest.
Sadly, the old issues did arise for Pettis. On his back foot, he's more hittable and less offensive. Similarly, if ground into the fence, his takedown defense dips. Everyone knows these issues, and until Pettis corrects them, the top fighters will continue to take advantage.
Last night, Dustin Poirier scored the biggest win of his career with a third-round stoppage over Anthony Pettis. Who should Poirier face next?
For complete UFC Fight Night 120 “Pettis vs. Poirier” results and play-by-play, click HERE!