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‘Strikers took him down’ — Why Dustin Poirier’s ground game could be a liability at UFC 269

UFC Fight Night: Poirier v Hooker Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC

Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) lightweight kingpin Charles Oliveira will make his first division title defense when he collides with former interim champion Dustin Poirier atop the UFC 269 pay-per-view (PPV) event on Sat., Dec. 11, 2021 inside T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.

A victory will go a long way in establishing Oliveira as the (cough) “real” champ.

“Many people say I have to beat Dustin to prove I’m the champion. I am the champion. I won [the belt] earlier this year and I’ll defend my belt now,” Oliveira told MMA Fighting’s Portuguese-language podcast Trocação Franca. “All you guys that think [he’s No. 1], watch his last fight and watch my last fight, see what I’m good at and what he’s good at, and match it all up to see what happens.”

Oliveira (31-8, 1 NC) has captured nine straight with eight finishes, boasting knockout power in his fists and submission skills on the ground. But “Do Bronx” believes it’s the latter that will tarnish the 28-6 (1 NC) “Diamond” when they go to war next month in “Sin City.”

“Strikers took him down way too easily, and you know what happens if I take him down,” Oliveira continued. “If he trades on the feet with me, you know I’m hitting hard, brother. It will be fire on the 11th. I have firepower in my hands, I have my jiu-jitsu. I respect him a lot, but I want to remain champion, I want to keep this belt here. I couldn’t care less what others say or criticize.”

Poirier has only been submitted twice in his illustrious career and just once since 2012, a rear-naked choke opposite Khabib Nurmagomedov at UFC 242. It should be noted that Oliveira has tapped three times under the UFC banner — two guillotine chokes and one kneebar.

“Do Bronx” remains a slight betting underdog against “The Diamond” ... for now.