Dustin Poirier and Justin Gaethje to headline UFC 291

Dustin Poirier speaks at the Samsung Galaxy Creator Collective 2023 at Gilley's Dallas

UFC’s most explosive and vastly experienced mix martial artists, Dustin Poirier (pictured) and Justin Gaethje, will be locked inside the octagon once again Picture: Richard Rodriguez/Getty Images/AFP

Published Jun 2, 2023


Gqeberha – The UFC’s most explosive and vastly experienced mixed martial arts fighters, Dustin Poirier and Justin Gaethje, will be locked inside the octagon once again for a highly-anticipated second fight on July 29, in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Gaethje currently holds the most main-event fights record in the history of the UFC with 11 in total, and that is because of the entertaining fighting style the 34-year-old employs.

In his very first fight in the UFC, Gaethje got the fight-of-the-night slot because Ultimate Fighting Championship president Dana White knew Gaethje would not hesitate to go toe-to-toe with his opponent.

In one of Gaethje’s first losses in the UFC, back in 2018, he was up against another warrior in Louisiana’s Poirier.

Three rounds into that fight, it was clear Gaethje was leading the points tally, despite losing a point for poking Poirier in the eye for the second time in the fight.

A series of inside leg kicks, calf kicks and outside leg kicks almost paralysed Poirier, and to everyone’s surprise – given that Gaethje is known for his precise leg kicks – Poirier looked stunned and without a strategy to avoid or defend against them.

Throughout the three rounds, Poirier was landing blows to the head as well, thanks to his supreme boxing skills and his famously dangerous left hook.

That left hook saw Gaethje opened up and bleeding in the very first round, but he was landing those inside leg kicks precisely and consistently, thereby slowing Poirier down and forcing him to attempt take downs which he just could not pull off.

A well-timed right hand to the chin in the first five seconds of the fourth round from Poirier tilted things in his favour, and a fighter of his calibre was not going to let a win slip away from him after landing a clean punch.

Smartly, precisely and efficiently, Poirier threw a beautiful combination of punches to a wobbling Gaethje, and referee Herb Dean stopped the fight and Poirier took the victory.

As number-two ranked lightweight contender, Poirier is a favourite going into Salt Lake City in July, but Gaethje is not far off as he is ranked third in the same division.

The two have evolved immensely as mixed martial arts fighters over the past five years and it is highly likely both will employ a different strategy going into this fight.

“I won’t even watch that fight again. I was sloppy there,” said Gaethje in an interview with Daniel Cormier on Thursday.

“It was a great learning experience. I have tons of respect for Dustin. This guy is a dog and I know there’s no need for animosity (trash talk to sell tickets) because we are the two most violent athletes in the sport. He’s super confident and I’m super confident as well.” he added.

Even Poirier knows that Gaethje will bring a different set of skills to this BMF title fight and that he is a much-improved fighter compared to five years ago.

In the same interview, Poirier pointed out how in the past Gaethje was reckless in putting himself directly in front of the opponent with few defence skills.

Most importantly, the resume of the two fighters speaks for itself and they have ultimate respect for one another since that 2018 fight, which means this will be a war all MMA fans will be treated to come July.

“It (the respect for Gaethje) came from spending over 20 minutes in the octagon with him bleeding,” said Poirier.

“I’m a fan of his, anytime he fights I’m going to watch. He puts everything on the line and those are the kind of fights I want to be involved in. That’s what makes me excited about this fight.”


IOL Sport

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