The UFC main event starts tonight at 10:00 PM EST with a fight in the men’s lightweight division between Dustin Poirier and Justin Gaethje. Poirier is currently favored at -150 on the moneyline with a 5.5 point spread at -105 odds. Read on for more UFC 291 predictions in best bets for both this fight and Blachowicz vs Pereira.
UFC 291 Best Bets
We now shift our focus towards one of the biggest PPV’s in recent time, a card that is stacked from top to bottom. Crowning the card comes a battle between two veterans with Dustin Poirier taking on Justin Gaethje for the vacant BMF belt. While the belt does not hold any significant relevance, the fight should still be a great one nonetheless. We also have a stellar co-main event as Alex Pereira moves up a weight class to battle it out against Jan Blachowicz. For the rest of the main card’s breakdown, you can see what I’m on here.
Dustin Poirier Vs. Justin Gaethje
It’s a rematch between two lightweight legends as they hit the tail end of their careers. Both lost during their interim title runs, now both looking to recapture “gold” in a battle to decide the new BMF champion. Poirer won their initial battle five years ago, winning by TKO after a dominant stand-up performance.
Flash forward five years later and the two fighters have had near identical careers with both of them going 6-2 since their initial fight. Both of their losses were to Charles Oliveria and Khabib Nurmagomedov, failing to take the next step up as a consistent lightweight champion. To no fault of their own as both Khabib and Oliveria are regarded as future HOF’s for the success they have had in the octagon.
April 14, 2018
UFC on Fox: Poirier vs. Gaethje
Barnburner in Arizona vs Justin Gaethje
Dustin endured the storm to finish Gaethje early in Round 4 despite having his lead leg battered. pic.twitter.com/gYAtH0xJ7O
— Ocelot MMA (@Ocelot_MMA) July 25, 2023
Even though they have had identical careers, this fight may not mirror their initial one as Justin Gaethje has drastically improved as a striker. That was his issue in the first contest, getting stunned by Poirier’s close-range assault when they met in the middle of the octagon. His leg kicks were not enough to slow Dustin down, struggling with spacing and getting eventually finished by the heavy-handed fighter.
The issue this time around is that Gaethje’s chin is much weaker than before as that was made apparent in his bout against Oliveria. Knowing this, Dustin will look to take advantage of the weakened chin once again as the more tactical striker. He has a slight reach advantage that can negate Gaethje’s desire to create separation, as well as take advantage of Justin’s weak striking defense as he absorbs over seven Significant Strikes per minute.
Another fact to note is that Poirier is also a far superior grappler, having a massive advantage if this hits the ground. The issue is that Gaethje is excellent at stuffing takedowns with a 75% stuff rate and did not allow one takedown in their initial contest as Dustin went 0-5 on takedown attempts. Still, the opportunity is there for a finish on the mat with Dustin in full control of securing a submission win.
With Dustin being the superior striker, as well as a massive grappling advantage in the rare instance this hits the ground, I will bet on him to win inside the distance. Both fighters are aging, and their chins are regressing after years of grueling battles, giving me conviction that this will not go the distance. Especially with both wanting to make a statement win to prove who is the rightful owner of the BMF belt.
Pick: Dustin Poirier to win inside the distance
Jan Blachowicz Vs. Alex Pereira
In a surprising move, Alex Pereira has decided to bypass his trilogy fight against Israel Adesanya and has made the move to light heavyweight. A logical move for the former champion as he has a massive frame and made it vocal that he has struggled to maintain his slender frame. Now being able to pack on more muscle, Pereira is even more dangerous as a lethal kick boxer.
While I normally fade fighters moving up in weight, Pereira poses as an intriguing prospect as this weight should feel more natural to him. He also has a massive striking advantage against Blachowicz, landing nearly two more Significant Strikers per minute as a well-rounded striker. Blachowicz has improved in this department over the years, but his aging chin makes him more susceptible to a finish by strikes with Pereira looking to apply pressure from the opening bell.
One area of concern is the lack of grappling on Pereira’s end. He has yet to be taken down in the UFC, bringing intrigue for how he will handle being on bottom of a grappling contest. In a three-round contest, this can drastically zap precious time off the clock as Blachowicz takes control.
With that in mind, I am putting a small wager on Pereira ML in hopes that he can avoid an early takedown. He is capable of punishing a takedown attempt, being exceptional with his knees as a counter striker to a ducked head.
Pick: Alex Pereira ML