An Early Look At UFC 291: Gaethje vs Poirier II – One Of The Greatest Cards Ever
The main card for UFC 291 has been released and it doesn't disappoint in the slightest.
There are so many great fights on this card, and I'd like to dive into each bout on the main card a little bit to give a bit more insight as to who the fighters are and what their match means. For the fans that watch the sport a lot, you'll recognize most names on the PPV card, but you'll also notice that the main event does not consist of a champion vs a challenger.
While both Poirier and Gaethje are former challengers that are in the lightweight division's top 5, another common denominator between the two is that they're both BMFs. Now that Jorge Masvidal is retired, the BMF title is on vacant and what better fight than Gaethje vs Poirier's rematch to give this belt some shine again?
UFC 291 Main Event: Justin Gaethje vs Dustin Poirier II For The Vacant BMF Title
This certainly caught me left field. The BMF title seemed more like a one-and-done type thing to embellish the Nate Diaz vs Jorge Masvidal fight. Well, the belt is vacant, it's back, and it's on the line for a fight that would sell out arenas regardless. Dana White dropped this bomb on us yesterday, along with the full UFC 291 main card — which is, unfortunately, subject to change.
Poirier is 4-1 in his last five; this includes two wins over Conor McGregor, the absolute bangers against Dan Hooker and Michael Chandler, and a loss to Charles Oliveira. The loss against ‘do Bronx' marks Dustin's second grab at gold, and second time coming short via rear-naked choke.
‘The Diamond' may not have held undisputed gold at 155lbs yet, but he's not done trying. Of his many impressive wins, one over Justin Gaethje from 2018 is very pertinent now. This, like most of Poirier and Gaethje's fights, was an instant classic. A back and forth war that ended early in the fourth round. This was Justin's second professional loss, and it was consecutive to his first. After this, he made some changes.
Gaethje is still one to stand and bang, but he does so with a lot more savvy and thoughtfulness now. After cleaning up his plan of attack, Justin also earned himself a couple of title shots, and also lost both of these by submission. Additionally, both share the fact that their title fight losses have been at the hands and chokes of Khabib Nurmagomedov and Charles Oliveira. These former interim champions have too much in common not to fight again.
There are so many fighters at lightweight that have a case for a title fight, but a huge win here could have Gaethje or Poirier jump the line and fight for gold. Maybe they'll even put the BMF belt on the line, too.
UFC 291 Co-main Event: Jan Błachowicz vs Alex Pereira
We love a good former champ vs former champ fight. Not only are Pereira and Błachowicz both former champions, but both have wins over Israel Adesanya. Jan was the first to defeat ‘Stylebender' in the UFC, and Pereira the first to defeat him in the middleweight division. Now, ‘Poatan' is stepping up to 205lbs as he looks to add another championship to his legacy.
Of course, Pereira is one of the best strikers in the world, so he should have an edge there. Additionally, his coach is none other than Glover Teixeira, the man who stole the belt from Błachowicz. However, Jan is always growing as a fighter and he's no easy task for anyone in the division.
If you ask me, this is one of the best fights to make while the light heavyweight division needs some time to sort itself out. The only downside is that it's only scheduled for three rounds.
Paulo Costa vs Ikram Aliskerov
We all know Paulo Costa as our favorite MMA meme plug, but he's also quite the fighter! Kidding, but he's seriously one of the best Twitter users ever. Costa went 13-0 in his professional career and earned a shot for UFC gold. He faced the aforementioned Adesanya, who handed him his first loss.
Costa would lose once more before bouncing back into the win column against former champ, Luke Rockhold. Currently sitting at the number 5 spot at middleweight, Costa's next fight will be against a fighter who is unranked and only 1-0 in the UFC.
This makes no sense until you look at who Ikram Aliskerov is; 14-1 with 10 finishes(including his lone UFC fight), this Russian standout's only loss happened at the hands of Khamzat Chimaev on the regional circuit. While even then, this fight doesn't make a lot of sense, it definitely sets up an awesome callout of ‘Borz' for the winner.
Tony Ferguson vs Bobby Green
Though Bobby Green's last fight was very anticlimactic, Tony Ferguson's last few fights have been heartbreaking. But, is Tony done? He's not on that winning streak against killers anymore, but of his five-fight losing streak, he's only lost to top guys. Nate Diaz on a day's notice, Charles Oliveira, Beneil Dariush, Michael Chandler, and Justin Gaethje — these are all guys that no fighter should have shame in losing against.
Ferguson will finally take a much needed step down in competition in hopes of getting things back on track. And yeah, ranking-wise, this is a step down against the monsters he's been fighting for the past eight years, but Bobby Green is no easy fight. He's got some of the fastest hands in the UFC, good wrestling, and a hard style to prepare for. But, if anyone knows about a weird fighting style, it's ‘El Cucuy'.
Michael Chiesa vs Kevin Holland
This is an incredible fight and I really hope it gets the attention that it deserves. Stylistically, this is very fun. Holland, a great striker with fun grappling, will take on Chiesa, a dominant grappler that has never truly been stopped by strikes. My early prediction for this fight is that there will be lots of fun scrambles and some fun exchanges on the feet.
Also, Chiesa and Holland are very likeable guys. The media will be very entertaining between these two, considering the beef between them.