Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Lightweight finishers Charles Oliveira and Dustin Poirier will clash TONIGHT (Sat., Dec. 11, 2021) at UFC 269 inside T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Oliveira has already completed one of the greatest career turnarounds in UFC history. There was never a moment where “Do Bronx” wasn’t talented or dangerous, but after the disastrous end to his Featherweight run, no one expected the Brazilian to rip off a nine-fight win streak and capture a golden strap. While Oliveira was in the midst of dramatic improvement, Poirier was already deep in the trenches, fighting the best the Lightweight division has to offer. He’s done so for years and years now, and this will be his second attempt to pick up a hard-earned undisputed title.
Let’s take a closer look at the keys to victory for each man:
Record: 31-8 (1)
Key Wins: Michael Chandler (UFC 262), Tony Ferguson (UFC 256), Kevin Lee (UFC Fight Night 170), David Teymur (UFC Fight Night 144), Jeremy Stephens (TUF 20 Finale), Myles Jury (UFC on FOX 17), Will Brooks (UFC 210)
Key Losses: Paul Felder (UFC 218), Anthony Pettis (UFC on FOX 21), Frankie Edgar (UFC 162), Cub Swanson (UFC 152), Ricardo Lamas (UFC Fight Night 98)
Keys to Victory: Oliveira has always been a threat. There’s never been a time where one could feel comfortable as Oliveira began to slide an arm around the neck or chopped a low kick. In the last couple years, however, the already opportunistic Brazilian has really grown into one of the most dangerous fighters on the planet.
Muay Thai and jiu-jitsu are Oliveira’s bread and butter.
On the feet, Oliveira wants to avoid a boxing match. Poirier is too comfortable in combination, too slick with his head movement — he’s likely to win prolonged exchanges. If, however, Oliveira is able to play his game from his range, he can make Poirier look a whole lot more average. Oliveira can still stalk as he prefers, but he has to hang back a bit more than usual and work his teep/feint/low kick to good effect before trying to step forward with punches.
Really, it’s the takedown that seems likely to differentiate Oliveira from his opponent here. If Oliveira can convince Poirier he’s in a firefight, even for a quick moment, then “Do Bronx” absolutely has the wrestling necessary to ground “The Diamond.”
Once on top, Oliveira is in his wheelhouse.
Record: 29-6 (1)
Key Wins: Conor McGregor (UFC 264, UFC 257), Max Holloway (UFC 236), Justin Gaethje (UFC on FOX 29), Eddie Alvarez (UFC on FOX 30), Dan Hooker (UFC on ESPN 12), Anthony Pettis (UFC Fight Night 120), Joseph Duffy (UFC 195)
Key Losses: Khabib Nurmagomedov (UFC 242), Conor McGregor (UFC 178), Michael Johnson (UFC Fight Night 94), Chan Sung Jung (UFC on FUEL TV 3)
Keys to Victory: Poirier is quite possibly the greatest attrition fighter in Lightweight history. Deep into grueling fights, Poirier maintains his excellent form and combination punching through all the chaos, and if he manages to stun his opponent, few can swarm like “The Diamond.”
Oliveira is not the supposed quitter that some label him, but Poirier has overwhelmed other ultra tough, not quitters like Alvarez and Gaethje. He doesn’t need Oliveira to break mentally, not when Poirier is fully capable of breaking him down physically.
Lest we forget, Poirier throws absolute bricks.
In this match up, I’d like to see Poirier pressure. He’s not great off his backfoot in general, and that’s when Oliveira’s kicks are most effective. Instead, Poirier should be moving forward behind his jab and own kicks, looking to counter whatever strikes Oliveira fires to try to scare him off.
In general, body work should be a priority for the Louisiana-native. Oliveira has crumbled to body shots in the past, and they have the added benefit of keeping Poirier’s level low in anticipation of the takedown. Perhaps most importantly, Oliveira has never fought 25 minutes previously, and some rips to the torso will help remind him of that fact.
Lightweight greatness is on the line.
Oliveira is one of the most unlikely champions of the current era. He may be younger than someone like Robbie Lawler or Glover Teixeira, but his path to the belt was perhaps even further filled with sidetracks and setbacks. He’s already scored a great legacy as an improbable kingpin, but he can build upon it here by turning away Poirier.
If he defeats “The Diamond,” no one can deny Charles Oliveira’s growth and greatness.
On the flip side, it’s time to see whether or not Poirier’s bet will pay off. He willingly went after the McGregor trilogy rather than a title shot, but with a victory here, Poirier has fully accomplished all of his goals. Money, title, legacy — what more is there, and who is more deserving?
Both of these men have taken a hard road to their UFC 269 title fight, but only one leaves with the strap. Which fighter earns the victory?
Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 269 fight card right here, starting with the early ESPN+ “Prelims” matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. ET, then the remaining undercard balance on ESPN2/ESPN+ at 8 p.m. ET, before the PPV main card start time at 10 p.m. ET on ESPN+ PPV.
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