The main event at UFC on FOX 29 saw top lightweight contenders Dustin Poirier and Justin Gaethje go to war in front of a packed Gila River Arena in Glendale, Arizona.
After his sensational Octagon debut – a war with Michael Johnson that earned him Performance of the Night, Fight of the Night, and Fight of the Year honours – Gaethje suffered his first defeat as a professional mixed martial artist; a KO loss to Eddie Alvarez.
Speaking of that fight, Alvarez said that it was ‘complete chaos’ and nothing less tha he expected.
“I actually went into that fight expecting complete chaos and exactly what it was,” Alvarez said. “I spent some time with him on ‘TUF’ show. I got a good gauge on what type of person he is and how he likes to live his life and I have a tremendous amount of respect for him.”
Having fought both Poirier and Gaethje, ‘The Underground King‘ has a unique insight into both men and although he considered Poirier to be the more skilled fighter, he gave the edge to Gaethje to due to his heart and willingness to fight to the bitter end.
“I think it’s no question that Dustin Poirier is a more skilled fighter than Justin Gaethje,” Alvarez said. “That’s safe to say. I think everybody in this room would agree with that, skill-wise. But Justin has the intangibles. And, at no time in the ring, when I was beating Justin, no matter how hard I was hitting him, did I feel like he was accepting defeat. Not at any point.
“And I can’t say the same for the Dustin fight. I feel like there was a point at that fight when I felt that he accepted defeat and he wanted to be out of the fight. Justin didn’t. And I beat Justin worse. So I have to give the edge to Justin in that respect because I don’t feel like Dustin Poirier is going to be able to finish him. He’s going to have to fight him for the whole fight.”
With Poirier ranked 5th, Gaethje ranked 6th, Tony Ferguson out for an indiscernible amount of time due to injury, and Conor McGregor out for an indiscernible due to insanity at UFC 223, a win for either man would put them right in the mix with regards to a title fight.
Eddie Alvarez will most likely get the nod first but after that, the winner would have to be seriously considered for a shot at the strap.
Fighters, sports journalists, and fans all thought that this would be a close contest and the bookmakers agreed; they installed Poirier as the slight favourite at $1.77 while Gaethje was at $2.05.
This main event fight definitely lived up to the hype. It was a predominantly striking battle between the two top 155-pounders, each one landing significantly. As Poirier landed clean headshots, Gaethje answered back with thudding leg kicks. Three eye pokes and more stand-and-bang exchanges later, it was Poirier who was able to hurt Gaethje badly in the fourth round and continued to pour it on until referee Herb Dean stepped in to stop the fight.
Here are some highlights of the fight.