Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Lightweight knockout artists Dustin Poirier and Justin Gaethje will clash TONIGHT (Sat., July 29, 2023) at UFC 291 inside Delta Center in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Rematches don’t come much more perfect. Since their epic 2018 collision, both Poirier and Gaethje have gone 6-2 at the highest level, losing only to champions Khabib Nurmagomedov and Charles Oliveira. Both men have retained their Top Five status all the while, setting them up for this very relevant and very exciting main event. The BMF title? That’s just an added piece of jewelry to draw in the casual eye; everyone in the know is already well-aware this fight cannot be missed.
Let’s take a closer look at the keys to victory for each man:
Record: 30-7 (1)
Key Wins: Conor McGregor (UFC 264, UFC 257), Max Holloway (UFC 236), Justin Gaethje (UFC on FOX 29), Michael Chandler (UFC 281), Eddie Alvarez (UFC on FOX 30), Dan Hooker (UFC on ESPN 12), Anthony Pettis (UFC Fight Night 120)
Key Losses: Khabib Nurmagomedov (UFC 242), Charles Oliveira (UFC 269) Conor McGregor (UFC 178), Michael Johnson (UFC Fight Night 94)
Keys to Victory: Poirier is built for war. “The Diamond” has a deep gas tank, rock-solid jawline, and ferocious natural power in both hands. Combined all that with an excellent boxing game, and it’s not hard to understand why he’s stopped so many top-class fighters over the years.
Last time out, Poirier executed his game plan well. That’s not to say it was easy, but countering low kicks eventually paid off in the fourth-round knockout win. Taking away Gaethje’s low kicks as much as possible will remain pivotal here, so countering kicks with combinations will continue to be important.
Otherwise, it’s important that Poirier doesn’t head hunt, as Gaethje keeps his guard high and roll wells. Instead, Poirier should be looking to torch the body with hooks whenever possible. It also feels like he could find more success with his left kick to the mid-section, another weapon that could take some of the wind from Gaethje’s sails.
If Poirier consistently builds combinations and chips away, another knockout may suddenly materialize.
Key Wins: Tony Ferguson (UFC 249), Rafael Fiziev (UFC 286), Michael Chandler (UFC 268), Edson Barboza (UFC on ESPN 2), Donald Cerrone (UFC Fight Night 158), Michael Johnson (TUF 25 Finale), James Vick (UFC Fight Night 135)
Key Losses: Khabib Nurmagomedov (UFC 254), Charles Oliveira (UFC 274), Dustin Poirier (UFC on FOX 29), Eddie Alvarez (UFC 218)
Keys to Victory: Gaethje is more than just raw violence and chaos. “The Highlight” is a brutal striker from every range, and he certainly does thrive when the chips are down and both men are exhausted.
19 of his wins come via knockout.
Some of what Gaethje did in the first fight worked. His low kicks did indeed send “The Diamond” to the hospital, and the effects were being felt. In fact, his third round was very strong, and he seemed to have the momentum on his side ... until Poirier cracked him early in the fourth.
Gaethje has to be a bit more defensively responsible in this one. If he can land his low kicks at a reasonable rate without getting bombed in the process, he still stands a solid chance at pulling ahead in the second half of the fight. Additionally, it would be a wise idea to mix in the occasional double leg shot. Poirier has been timed in exchanges and along the fence, and his hips don’t seem as willing to sprawl as they once were.
Some top control time could help sway close rounds, as well as help his wrestling serve as a setup for his striking offense.
BMF may be a silly notion, but are there any fighters more deserving of a bonus honor than Poirier and Gaethje? These fan favorites deliver every time, and it’s nice to see them earn a bonus check and extra bit of attention regardless of any other circumstances.
Big picture, however, it’s a highly important fight for the careers of both. Each man is 34 years of age, and they’ve been grinding in the gym and scrapping in the cage for many years. The end of their times as contenders is closer than the beginning — that’s just the reality of their careers. With this fight being a likely title eliminator, it’s very possibly the last time either fighter could earn a title shot and fully live the dream of being UFC champion.
At UFC 291, Dustin Poirier and Justin Gaethje will rematch in the main event. Which man will remain standing when the dust settles?
Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 291 fight card right here, starting with the early ESPN+ “Prelims” matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m. ET, then the remaining undercard on ESPN/ESPN+/ABC at 8 p.m. ET, before the PPV main card start time at 10 p.m. ET on ESPN+ PPV.
To check out the latest and greatest UFC 291: “Poirier vs. Gaethje 2” news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive event archive right here.