UFC 291: Poirier vs. Gaethje 2 Fight Card, Predictions, & Odds

min read
Dustin Poirier, right, punches Michael Chandler during the first round of a lightweight bout at the UFC 281.
(AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
Anatoly Pimentel @AnatolyPimentel Jul 25, 2023, 5:28 PM
  • The winner will be crowned as the new "BMF" champion and next in line for a lightweight title shot.
  • Dustin Poirier is the betting favorite at -145.
  • Justin Gaethje is the betting underdog at +120.

One of the most highly anticipated rematches in UFC history will go down this Saturday, July 29, inside the Delta Center in Salt Lake City, Utah, as No. 2-ranked contender Dustin Poirier (29-7) faces the No. 3-ranked challenger Justin Gaethje (24-4) for the vacant “BMF” title. Aside from the “BMF” title, this match will also determine the next challenger for the lightweight title.

Because he won their first meeting in April 2018 via fourth-round TKO, Poirier is the betting favorite in UFC odds at -145 against Gaethje, who is the betting underdog at +120. Since their first meeting, they have accomplished almost the same career milestones, such as being the former lightweight interim champion and fighting in two title unification bouts. Unfortunately, they haven’t won the 155-pound title yet.

Dustin Poirier Recent Fight Results

Dustin Poirier is a 12-year veteran in the UFC who made his Octagon debut in January 2011 as a featherweight fighter. During his run in the 145-pound division, Poirier amassed a record of eight wins and three losses before moving up to the lightweight division in April 2015 by knocking out Diego Ferreira in the opening round. The “Diamond” found a home in the 155-pound division, where he became a top contender and a title challenger.

Since moving up in weight, Poirier racked up 13 victories and three losses, eventually becoming a lightweight interim champion and two-time title challenger. Unfortunately, he was defeated by Khabib Nurmagomedov and Charles Oliveira to deny him the undisputed title. Poirier’s wins include high-profile names such as Anthony Pettis, Justin Gaethje, Eddie Alvarez, Max Holloway, Conor McGregor, and Michael Chandler.

Justin Gaethje Recent Fight Results

Unlike Poirier, Justin Gaethje has only been with the UFC for six years, as he joined the Las Vegas-based fight promotion as an undefeated prospect and a former WSOF (now known as the PFL) champion in July 2017. The “Highlight” had a rough start to his UFC career after suffering two losses (from Eddie Alvarez and Dustin Poirier) from three bouts. But he quickly turned the tide by winning four straight matches to become the interim champion.

Gaethje scored stoppage wins over James Vick, Edson Barboza, Donald Cerrone, and Tony Ferguson before losing to Nurmagomedov for the lightweight title in October 2020. Following that defeat, the 34-year-old bounced back against Chandler in November 2021 to earn another title shot against Oliveira in May 2022, but Oliveira submitted him in the opening round. He is coming off a majority decision win over Rafael Fiziev in March 2023.

Dustin Poirier vs. Justin Gaethje: Tale of the Tape

Dustin PoirierJustin Gaethje
Age 34 34
Height 5'9"5'11"
Reach 72 inches70 inches
Leg Reach40.5 inches40 inches
Record 29-724-4
Fighting StyleBrazilian Jiu-JitsuStriker
Finishing Rate76%72%

Dustin Poirier vs. Justin Gaethje: Fight Analysis

There isn’t much of a significant difference in the tale of the tape between Poirier and Gaethje, as the latter only has two inches of reach (Poirier’s 72 inches compared to Gaethje’s 70 inches) and half-an-inch of leg reach advantage (Poirier’s 40.5 inches versus Gaethje’s 40 inches), while the latter is two inches ahead in height (Gaethje’s 5-foot-11 compared to Poirier who stands at 5-foot-9).

Although Poirier’s fighting style is Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, he is known to be an excellent boxer who isn’t afraid of trading blows. The phenomenal boxing skills of the “Diamond” was evident in his first fight with Gaethje, where he used it to stop him in the fourth round. He poured down a variety of punches that eventually forced the referee to step in and stop the fight.

Another proof of Poirier’s stand-and-trade style is his 48% TKO/KO percentage, backed by the 5.51 significant strikes landed per minute (50%) and 4.25 significant strikes absorbed per minute (54%). On the other hand, Gaethje is a fighter with a striking-based approach despite his Division 1 collegiate wrestling background. The “Highlight” uses a mix of punches and kicks to inflict damage on his opponents.

The numbers verify Gaethje’s striking style with 7.38 significant strikes landed per minute (60%) and 7.66 significant strikes absorbed per minute (53%), which accounts for his 79% TKO/KO percentage. Although Poirier has the better grappling numbers of 1.39 takedown average per minute (against Gaethje’s 0.13), takedown accuracy of 36% (compared to Gaethje’s 25%), and 1.24 submission average per 15 minutes (versus Gaethje’s 0), expect this rematch to be another barnburner.

Since they last fought each other five years ago, Poirier and Gaethje have greatly improved and added new weapons to their arsenals. For Poirier, he added calf kicks to his offense, which proved effective to other heavy-punching opposition, as it took away their power. It was seen during the two Conor McGregor fights where Poirier targeted McGregor’s calf, which was key to his victory in both bouts.

Meanwhile, Gaethje has become a more patient fighter now, often picking his shots rather than just throwing heavy punches to potentially knock out his foes. Also, he now throws a lot of power jabs to keep his fighting distance and set up his patented leg kicks. Gaethje focused on landing the leg kicks when he first fought Poirier and connected 50 times in 57 attempts.

There is no doubt that this lightweight rematch for the vacant “BMF” title between Poirier and Gaethje will be another classic fight. The deciding factor is who among the two will execute their fight plan better and who can land the big strike first, as these two can knock out each other. Additionally, the stakes will be more than the “BMF” title because this is probably the last opportunity for either athlete to earn another title shot for the lightweight belt.

Official Prediction: TKO/KO victory for Justin Gaethje.

See the entire UFC 291: Poirier vs. Gaethje 2 odds and wagers here.

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About the Author

Anatoly Pimentel

Read More @AnatolyPimentel

Anatoly Pimentel is an NBA and MMA writer previously featured in ASEAN Sports, Asian Persuasion MMA, and Overtime Heroics MMA. He graduated from Adamson University with a B.A in Communication and is a Web Content Writer for BetMGM.

Anatoly Pimentel is an NBA and MMA writer previously featured in ASEAN Sports, Asian Persuasion MMA, and Overtime Heroics MMA. He graduated from Adamson University with a B.A in Communication and is a Web Content Writer for BetMGM.