Hopefully, this fight week goes smoother than the last.
Soon after their last-minute changes to UFC 223, the organization heads to Glendale, Arizona, for a UFC on FOX event this weekend.
We’ve got a true fight on our hands as Dustin Poirier takes on Justin Gaethje in what is sure to be a brilliant scrap in the main event.
Dustin Poirier vs. Justin Gaethje
This one is going to be glorious.
Dustin Poirier and Justin Gaethje are set to square off in what is going to be one of the most violent fights of 2018.
Poirier, who is fresh off a brilliant win over Anthony Pettis in November, will be looking to remain undefeated since September 2016 when he steps into the Octagon this weekend. Poirier has been on some kind of run lately. He scored a majority decision over Jim Miller and then almost topped Eddie Alvarez, but the fight ended up going sideways before ending in a no-contest. After that, Poirier showcased his lightning-fast hands and beat up Anthony Pettis at a UFC Fight Night in Norfolk, Virginia.
Poirier is as tough as they come and his boxing is amongst the top tier in the UFC’s lightweight division.
Against him is the also tough-as-nails Justin Gaethje, who has only just experienced his first-ever defeat as a professional mixed martial artist. Previously, Gaethje had racked up 19 straight wins through his time at World Series of Fighting and a killer debut against Michael Johnson at The Ultimate Fighter: Redemption Finale. In that fight, Gaethje took all the best shots that Johnson had to offer before storming past him in the second round after destroying his legs with kicks and then finishing him off with strikes.
So, when Gaethje lost to Eddie Alvarez, it wasn’t surprising, but it was shocking. Gaethje relied on his tried and tested strategies against “The Underground King,” but Alvarez seemingly had an answer for all of Gaethje’s questions at UFC 218 and eventually stopped Gaetje in the third round.
The question before UFC on FOX 29 is how much has Gaethje learned from his loss?
Carlos Condit vs. Alex Oliveira
Speaking of fights that are destined to be fantastic, Carlos Condit and Alex Oliveira are going to battle it out in a welterweight contest. Condit was originally supposed to fight Matt Brown, but after Brown experienced an injury early last week, he was forced to withdraw. Now, the UFC has replaced Brown with an equally eager opponent in Oliveira, who is always a ‘Fight of the Night’ candidate.
Condit made his long-awaited reappearance inside the Octagon in December last year after he took longer than 15 months away from the sport. It was a strategic decision by Condit to remove himself from MMA after losing two in a row to the very best in the division. He returned at UFC 219 and found himself in a very winnable matchup with Neil Magny, but he eventually faltered and failed to have the same impact that he has had in the past. It remains to be seen if Condit still has what it takes to hang in there with dangerous opponents.
And Oliveira is certainly a very dangerous opponent. The Brazilian isn’t the most technically sound fighter you’re ever going to see, but he is indeed game. His ferocious Muay Thai striking combined with elite submission skills mean that he is capable of finishing the fight on either front. He’s also got this kind of ‘only-forward’ mentality that makes it hard for an opponent to settle into his game. The thing about Oliveira, though, is that when he is winning he is really good. By that, I mean that when there is adversity, he seems to lose interest. This is best displayed by his recent two-fight series with Tim Means.
Marvin Vettori vs. Israel Adesanya
Sorry to Marvin Vettori, but this fight is all about Israel Adesanya.
Adesanya stormed the scene in February and took out Rob Wilkinson in the second round with ease. He’s a striking phenom and seems to be levels above the standing ability of many middleweight fighters on the UFC’s roster right now. Why’s that? Well, his record speaks for itself. Adesanya has competed in 57 kickboxing bouts and won 50 of them. He brings a level of striking intelligence and precision that is rarely seen amongst this larger weight division in the UFC.
MMA fans are certainly hyped up about Adesanya and his arrival, but he has to get through Marvin Vettori first. Vettori has been competing in the UFC since August 2016 and has compiled a 2-1-1 record in the organization so far. At the age of 24, he’s also another exciting prospect but he has struggled to be consistent with his effort in the UFC so far.
Adesanya is certainly a better striker than Vettori, but can he get the job done?
Michelle Waterson vs. Cortney Casey
Let’s not forget the importance of this clash between Michelle Waterson and Cortney Casey.
Waterson and Casey will be colliding in a women’s strawweight fight as each fighter looks to get back on track after experiencing defeat. For Waterson, she’s now lost two in a row after falling short against Rose Namajunas in April last year and then to Tecia Torres in December. The defeats certainly mark a change in trajectory for the once rising martial artist who had defeated Paige VanZant via rear-naked choke in December.
We’re quickly starting to find out exactly where Cortney Casey stands in the division. She’s not top tier, and she’s not in any of those couple of tiers below it; the losses to Claudia Gadelha and Felice Herrig prove that. Instead, she’s certainly in the middle of the pack after recording wins over Randa Markos and Jessica Aguilar who are both tough fights.
Is Michelle Waterson better than the ‘middling’ fighters of the division, or is she on par?
UFC on FOX 29 fight card
UFC on FOX 29 begins on UFC Fight Pass from 3:30 pm ET (7:30 pm GMT) on Saturday, April 14.
FOX Main Card (8:00 pm ET / 12:00 am GMT)
- Dustin Poirier [-130] vs. Justin Gaethje [+125]
- Carlos Condit [+185] vs. Alex Oliveira [-235]
- Marvin Vettori [+270] vs. Israel Adesanya [-350]
- Michelle Waterson vs. Cortney Caseys
FOX Prelims (6:00 pm ET / 10:00 pm GMT)
- Tim Boetsch vs. Antonio Carlos Junior
- Muslim Salikhov vs. Ricky Rainey
- Wilson Reis vs. John Moraga
- Krzsztof Jotko vs. Brad Tavares
UFC Fight Pass Early Prelims (3:30 pm ET / 7:30 pm GMT)
- Gilbert Burns vs. Dan Moret
- Shana Dobson vs. Lauren Mueller
- Dhiego Lima vs. Yushin Okami
- Arjan Bhullar vs. Adam Wieczorek
- Matthew Lopez vs. Alejandro Perez
- Luke Sanders vs. Patrick Williams