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In the main event of the evening, the Lightweight title is on the line, as Champion Charles ‘do Bronx’ Oliveira takes on Dustin ‘The Diamond’ Poirier. Making his first title defense, Oliveira will look to continue this incredible run. One in which has seen a fighter, who debuted in 2010 and at one point had lost four of six, go on a nine-fight win streak and become the UFC Lightweight Champion. A true underdog story, one in which Poirier is all too familiar with himself. As he too wasn’t gifted anything and had to defeat some of the division’s best to earn an Interim title shot in his twenty-second UFC fight. Now, one of the most elite fighters on the roster, Poirier will look to become the undisputed Lightweight Champion.
This is a great fight and storyline between two fighters, who went through adversity and have risen to the top. Charles Oliveira is one of the very best grapplers and submission artists on the planet. Currently the UFC’s all-time leader in finishes with 17 and submissions with 14, Oliveira is not one to mix it up on the ground with. Even on the feet, Oliveira has vastly improved to where he can legitimately win fights without the need of grappling. As evidenced by the four knockdowns in the last five fights, as well the knockout victory over Michael Chandler. Often labeled as one to quit, I think Oliveira proved that he is no longer that guy. As for Dustin Poirier, I can imagine that he is more relaxed and less on edge heading into this fight. Having faced Conor McGregor in back-to-back fights, one in which the Irishman was cordial and the other in which he was not, Poirier did an excellent job staying focused and keeping his eye on the prize. Primarily a striker, Poirier is one of the best pressure boxers in the UFC. With excellent volume, cardio for days and pace that breaks fighters, Poirier is among the elite of the UFC. I’d even argue that Poirier is peaking, as evidenced by the seven wins in the last eight and five of which have come via stoppage.
As for a prediction, I have Poirier winning. While Oliveira has vastly improved his striking to complement his already dangerous grappling, I’m not convinced that the Brazilian can get this fight to the mat. Not that Poirier has shown that he has stout takedown defense, but Oliveira’s takedown setups, while improved, are not overpowering. On the feet, Oliveira can be competitive, but for the most part, it’s Poirier’s world. As the fight wanes, look for Poirier to build momentum, as his cardio will take over. In the end, I predict that Poirier will become the new Undisputed Lightweight Champion via knockout.