UFC 291 went down last night (Sat., July 29, 2023) inside Delta Center in Salt Lake City, Utah, featuring a Lightweight scrap for the “BMF” title between Dustin Poirier and Justin Gaethje. This time around it was Gaethje who scored the highlight-reel knockout, stopping “The Diamond” with a perfectly-placed high kick that slept the former interim Lightweight champion instantly (see it here). In UFC 291’s co-main event, Alex Pereira walked away with a close split decision win over former Light Heavyweight champion, Jan Blachowicz, in his 205-pound debut.
Biggest Winner: Justin Gaethje
Gaethje waited nearly five years to get revenge on Poirier, and he did just that by adding yet another classic knockout to his resume with a high kick that would make Mirko Cro Cop proud. With the win — his second in a row — “Highlight” won the “BMF” belt and another post-fight bonus award (his twelfth to date). More important, however, he will be in line to face the winner of the upcoming championship rematch between champion, Islam Makhachev vs. Charles Oliveira, who will collide one more time at UFC 294 on Oct. 21, 2023, in Abu Dhabi. While fight fans selfishly would have loved to see the fight go a bit longer, Gaethje did what he had to do to secure the bag and his title shot.
Runner Up: Derrick Lewis
Coming into the event, Lewis was mired in career-high, three-fight losing streak. And he was facing a surging big man in Marcos Rogerio de Lima who had won four of his last five fights inside the Octagon. A trimmed down “Black Beast” wasted no time in getting the action started, bull rushing his foe and connecting on a flying knee that sent him crashing to the canvas. Smelling blood, Lewis pounced on de Lima until the referee had no choice to put an end to the fight 33 seconds in (highlights here). Not only did Lewis get back on the winner’s podium, as well as score a $50,000 post-fight bonus award, he also earned some leverage at the negotiating table after revealing that it was the final fight of his UFC contract.
Biggest Loser: Tony Ferguson
“El Cucuy” may not have plans on retiring anytime soon, but that doesn’t mean UFC will keep him around after he suffered his sixth straight loss. Indeed, Bobby Green choked out Ferguson with just six seconds remaining in the fight with an air-tight arm triangle choke (highlights). Of his six losses, Ferguson has been finished four times. And while he claims he is still in his prime, that is far from reality. It’s hard for a fighter to accept that he/she is no longer competing at a high level. There is no shame in admitting it, but it’s something few will do. Should UFC release him from his contract, I don’t see too many promotions banging on “El Cucuy’s” door ready to offer him a bag of cash to compete, sadly.
For complete UFC 291 results, coverage and highlights click HERE.