What a week it was in the UFC. It was a crazy build up to UFC 223 with all of the Conor McGregor drama, Ferguson and Holloway both having to pull out of the title fight with Khabib and then the fights themselves definitely delivered as well.
This week the UFC heads to Glendale, Arizona for a fight night card that will try to continue the UFC’s momentum. The main event is a very exciting fight between Dustin Poirier and Justin Gaethje, but the rest of the card leaves a lot to be desired.
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Dustin Poirier vs Justin Gaethje
Dustin Poirier has proven himself as an elite fighter in the lightweight division. He outclassed Anthony Pettis in his last fight and was beating Eddie Alvarez before taking some illegal knees resulting in a no contest in the fight before that. If you look even further back he has some other very big wins over high level fighters such as Carlos Diego Ferreira, Yancy Medeiros, Joseph Duffy and Bobby Green. Poirier has fought the who’s who of the lightweight division and he has really looked very improved in his last couple fights.
Gaethje on the other hand has only 1 win in the UFC and it was over Michael Johnson, who is 1-5 in his last 6 fights. Yes, Johnson’s one win in that span was over Poirier, but he caught Dustin with a knockout punch in a very fast exchange, overall he’s not a high level fighter. In his second fight Gaethje met his match in Eddie Alvarez getting outclassed on the feet and actually outmatched in the toughness department as well.
I just see Poirier as the proven guy who is constantly improving. Gaethje really hasn’t beaten anyone of note and has massive holes in his striking game. He gets hit a ton in his fights and that’s not a good strategy against a guy as powerful and technical as Poirier.
This should be a barn-burner of a fight, but I expect Poirier to outclass Gaethje in every aspect.
Play: Poirier -137
Alex Oliveira vs Carlos Condit
Matt Brown was forced out of the originally scheduled fight with Carlos Condit due to a torn ACL and he’s been replaced by Alex Oliveira. Condit goes from a guy who was a great matchup for him in Matt Brown, to an awful matchup in Alex Oliveira.
I expect Oliveira to hold his own on the feet against Condit, but I think he wins this fight by securing takedowns and controlling this fight on the mat. Condit has never been able to stop takedowns throughout his career (38% takedown defense) and against a strong wrestler like Oliveira I don’t see him being able to keep this one standing. Oliveira had 6 takedowns en route to a 2nd round submission against Tim Means this time last year. I expect this to be a very similar fight to that one.
Play: Oliveira -205
Marvin Vettori vs Israel Adesanya
Adesanya has a lot of hype right now coming off his UFC debut TKO win over Rob Wilkinson that earned him performance of the night at UFC 221. I believe the hype in this guy. He’s flashy and he goes for the kill. He’s 12-0 in his MMA career and he’s finished every opponent within the first two rounds.
Vettori is a decent fighter who has improved, but his striking is not the most fluid, and I don’t see him being able to match Adesanya on the feet. Vettori may be able to get this fight to the mat where he could have an advantage, but I do still like Adesanya’s scrambling ability and if he gets back to his feet he’s right back to looking to get the KO.
Over three rounds I think there’s a great chance Adesanya gets the highlight reel KO in this one.
Play: Adesanya -230
Next week we have another solid Fight Night card featuring Edson Barboza vs Kevin Lee and Frankie Edgar vs Cub Swanson. Check back next week for those picks.