Justin Gaethje will be competing off a loss for a the first time in his mixed martial arts (MMA) career later this evening (Sat., April 14, 2018) at UFC on FOX 29 from inside Gila River Arena in Glendale, Arizona, and that should be good enough reason in itself to tune in.
The fact that the former World Series of Fighting (WSOF) lightweight champion will be locking horns with UFC veteran Dustin Poirier makes tonight’s main event clash even more appealing.
The bottom line is that Gaethje is arguably the most exciting fighter in MMA today, despite having competed just twice inside of the Octagon. Hardcore enthusiasts were on the 29-year-old’s bandwagon way before his UFC debut last July, but casual fight fans are just starting to catch on. That means that every fight moving forward is crucial for Gaethje if he wants to become a household name.
Luckily, Poirier should bring out the best in “Highlight” tonight in Glendale. “Diamond” is a proven contender at 155 pounds and is desperately trying to inch closer towards his first UFC title shot, whether he has to wait for the lightweight log jam to play out or not. That leaves Gaethje with the opportunity to dispose of a game opponent in front of a national audience looking for some sort of carnage during a weekend chock-full of NBA Playoffs.
The strange thing about this main event is the fact that it marks the first time fight fans will see Gaethje after a loss. Before his knockout defeat to Eddie Alvarez at UFC 218, Gaethje had racked off a perfect professional record of 18-0, which included a debut knockout win over Michael Johnson back at TUF 25 Finale. It’s likely that the willing brawler will fight the same way he usually does, but there is a sense of urgency in the air that Gaethje simply has never felt before.
If the former WSOF king can get back on his horse and wilt Poirier under the pressure of elite leg kicks and power punches then Gaethje will slide right back into title contention. And even though the UFC’s lightweight division is an unpredictable landscape capable of changing faces at the drop of a dime, Gaethje is the type of fighter the promotion would have to work into the mix should he score a big finish over “Diamond” at UFC on FOX 29.
Watch closely. Gaethje’s matchup with Poirier should offer one of the best back-and-forth exchanges of 2018. But it’s really anyone’s guess as to who’s going to come out on top.
MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC on FOX 29 fight card, starting with the Fight Pass “Prelims” matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 3:30 p.m. ET, then the remaining undercard balance on FOX at 6 p.m. ET, before the FOX main card start time at 8 p.m. ET.