The Ultimate Fighting Championship returned to us tonight, July 29, 2023, for UFC 291, going down live from the Delta Center in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Headlining the event is a lightweight rematch over five years in the making as former interim champions Dustin Poirier (29-8) and Justin Gaethje (25-4) finally go at it again following their Fight of the Year effort back in 2018.
Here were a few interesting parallels going into tonight’s main event:
- No. 2 ranked Dustin Poirier and no. 3 ranked Justin Gaethje both came into tonight’s main event at age 34
- Going into their first fight, Poirier was ranked at no. 5, one spot above then no. 6 ranked Gaethje; Poirier was still ranked just one spot above Gaethje going into this fight
- Their first fight was a main event, as was this one
- Both Poirier and Gaethje went on to claim interim gold following their first fight
- Both went 0-2 in undisputed title fights following their first fight (both were submitted by Khabib Nurmagomedov in the first, both lost their interim titles in that bout, and both were submitted by Charles Oliveira in the second)
- Both nearly knocked Oliveira out prior to being submitted by him
- Both had gone 6-2 since their first encounter
- Both had four finishes and two decisions in those six wins, both lost both defeats via submission to the same men
- Both fought, and defeated former Bellator lightweight champion Michael Chandler recently
- Both came into tonight’s main event on a one-fight streak
- Both had Fight of the Year winning efforts following their first fight – Poirier’s against Dan Hooker in 2020, and Gaethje’s against Michael Chandler in 2021
- Both had been awarded at least five performances bonuses since their first fight – Poirier (5), Gaethje (7)
- And, interestingly enough, each of these two combatants has an average fight time of exactly 10:06
Continue reading to see how this BMF championship rematch went down:
Official Result: Justin Gaethje def. Dustin Poirier via KO (head kick) at 1:00 of round two
Just like in their first fight, it appears the leg kicks are going to be a big factor in this one.
Gaethje lands his switch kick to the lead leg of Poirier at will, and follows some of them with good boxing combinations. Aside from being momentarily wobbled about three minutes in Gaethje has a very solid opening round.
Gaethje picks up in the second where he leaves off the first, and soon lands a nasty head kick that KO’s Poirier on the spot. He tried to land one in the first, Poirier getting his hand up just in time, but he wasn’t quick enough in defending this one.
— Spinnin Backfist (@SpinninBackfist) July 30, 2023
The evolution of Justin Gaethje has been a beautiful thing to watch over the years. This was the first head kick victory of his career, and of his 25 career wins, this was his 20th coming via knockout.
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I became a fan of combat sports when I was 12 years old. I was scrolling through the channels and landed upon Versus, where WEC was televised. Urijah Faber fought Jens Pulver for the second time that night. That’s the first fight I ever saw, and I was immediately hooked. So eventually, I began covering the sport in the fourth quarter of 2018, and have since started writing about animals as well. If you’d like to see those pieces, be sure to check out learnaboutnature.com!