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UFC 291 – Poirier V Gaethje 2

Check out UFC 291 tips and previews for all five main card fights from Salt Lake City, including the rematch between former UFC Lightweight Champions Dustin Poirier and Justin Gaethje.

UFC 291 Tips – Dustin Poirier V Justin Gaethje

13:20 (AEST), Sun 30th Jul @ Delta Center, Salt Lake City

Career records:
Poirier – 29-7 (14 wins by KO/TKO)
Gaethje – 24-4 (19 wins by KO/TKO)

Last bouts:
Poirier def Michael Chandler – Rd 3 submission – UFC 281, November 2022
Gaethje def Fiziev – Majority decision – UFC 286, March 2023

Analysis: A rematch between former UFC Lightweight Champions Poirier and Gaethje has been a long time coming, but it’s vital for more than just bragging rights with the pair the second- and third-ranked contenders in the division, respectively.

They met back in 2018, Poirier claiming a fourth-round TKO victory in an explosive contest. A year later he won the interim UFC Lightweight Championship by defeating Max Holloway but lost to Khabib Nurmagomedov. After beating Conor McGregor twice in 2021 he received another title challenge but tapped out to Charles Oliveira.

In his only fight in the past 20 months, Poirier gained a third-round submission win over Michael Chandler in November.

There’s some striking parallels with Gaethje’s path since 2018. He won the interim UFC Lightweight Championship by knocking out Tony Ferguson, then surrendered the belt to Nurmagomedov. Gaethje earned a decision over Chandler in late-2021 before going down to Oliveira in a title bout last May.

Gaethje last fought in April, earning a majority decision over Rafael Fiziev.

This showdown will be nothing if not entertaining. Gaethje will is a different proposition to 2018 when he faced Poirier in just his third fight in the UFC – the Arizona native is tremendous underdog value.

Best Bet MATCH RESULT - GAETHJE @ $2.25

UFC 291 Tips – Jan Blachowicz V Alex Pereira

13:00 (AEST), Sun 30th Jul @ Delta Center, Salt Lake City

Career records: 
Blachowicz – 29-9-1 (9 wins by KO/TKO)
Pereira – 7-2 (6 wins by KO/TKO)

Last bouts: 
Blachowicz drew with Magomed Ankalaev – Split draw – UFC 282, December 2022
Pereira lost to Israel Adesanya – Rd 2 KO – UFC 287, April 2023

Analysis: Fourth-ranked light heavyweight contender and former champion Blachowicz faces Alex Pereira, who comes up from middleweight and is only a few months removed from an eventful two bouts against megastar Israel Adesanya.

An imposing presence, Pereira stunned the MMA world with a fifth-round TKO of Adesanya in December to win the UFC Middleweight Championship. But he handed the strap back to the ‘Stylebender’ via a second-round TKO defeat in April.

Blachowicz won the vacant UFC Light Heavyweight Championship in 2020 against Dominick Reyes, defended it against Adesanya (who came up a division) and then lost it to Glover Teixeira. After a TKO (knee injury) victory over Aleksandar Rakic last May, the Polish powerhouse fought for a split draw against Magomed Ankalaev in December.

With injured champion Jamahal Hill announcing he will be giving up the title, there’s plenty at stake here. In a pick ’em, expect Blachowicz to successfully ward off a fighter stepping up in weight, as he did so impressively against Adesanya.

UFC 291 Tips – Stephen Thompson V Michel Pereira

12:40 (AEST), Sun 30th Jul @ Delta Center, Salt Lake City

Career records:
Thompson – 17-6-1 (8 wins by KO/TKO)
Pereira – 28-11-2 (10 wins by KO/TKO)

Last bouts:
Thompson def Kevin Holland – Rd 4 TKO – UFC on ESPN, December 2022
Pereira def Santiago Ponzinibbio – Split decision – UFC Fight Night, May 2022

Analysis: Welterweight contenders Thompson (seventh) and Pereira (15th) face off in what should be an absorbing duel between two seasoned competitors.

The 40-year-old Thompson halted a two-fight slide TKO victory over Kevin Holland in December that earned a Fight of the Night bonus, having lost to Gilbert Burns and Belal Muhammad in the previous 18 months. Back in 2016-17, Thompson fought Tyron Woodley twice for the UFC Welterweight Championship (a draw and a loss) then defeated Jorge Masvidal.

Pereira, just 29 still, has won his last five fights, but its 14 months since he last stepped into the octagon and snared a split decision from Santiago Ponzinibbio. A touch of ring rust may be enough to tip the scales towards Thompson, who has lost little speed or striking ability despite his advancing years.

Best Bet METHOD OF VICTORY - THOMPSON BY POINTS @$2.45

UFC 291 Tips – Tony Ferguson V Bobby Green

12:20 (AEST), Sun 30th Jul @ Delta Center, Salt Lake City

Career records: 
Ferguson – 25-8 (12 wins by KO/TKO)
Green – 29-14-2 (10 wins by KO/TKO)

Last bouts: 
Ferguson lost to Nate Diaz – Rd 4 submission – UFC 279, September 2022
Green no contest with Jared Gordon – NC (accidental clash of heads) – UFC Fight Night, April 2023

Analysis: Lightweight stalwarts Ferguson and Green are both hunting a momentum-turning result in an intriguing match-up.

Ferguson was on a 12-fight winning streak when he lost to Justin Gaethje for the interim UFC Lightweight Championship in 2020. Since then, he’s lost all four of his bouts: to Charles Oliveira and Beneil Dariush by unanimous decision, Michael Chandler by knockout, and Nate Diaz by submission in September.

Green’s 2022 losses to current champ Islam Makhachev (at short notice) and Drew Dober (after dominating the majority of the fight) put him on a 2-4 run, before his April bout with Jared Gordon was called a no contest in Round 1 due to an accidental head clash.

Green is the overwhelming $1.25 favourite here, with former division superstar Ferguson not quite the force he once was.

Best Bet METHOD OF VICTORY - GREEN BY KO/TKO @ $2.95

UFC 291 Tips – Michael Chiesa V Kevin Holland

12:00 (AEST), Sun 30th Jul @ Delta Center, Salt Lake City

Career records: 
Chiesa – 18-6 (0 wins by KO/TKO)
Holland – 24-9-1 (14 wins by KO/TKO)

Last bouts: 
Chiesa lost to Sean Brady – Unanimous decision – UFC Fight Night, November 2021
Holland def Santiago Ponzinibbio – Rd 3 KO – UFC 287, April 2023

Analysis: The main card commences with a welterweight showdown between Colorado’s Chiesa, who is returning after a lengthy hiatus, and busy Californian Holland.

Submission specialist Chiesa lost his last two fights to Vicente Luque (Rd 1 submission) and Sean Brady (unanimous decision) in 2021 and hasn’t featured since. He pulled out of a comeback bout against Li Jingliang in April due to a spine injury.

Holland, meanwhile, has had five fights in the past 16 months. After consecutive losses to Khamzat Chimaev (Rd 1 submission) and Stephen Thompson (a Fight of the Night corner stoppage in Round 4), he knocked out Santiago Ponzinibbio in April.

It’s a make-or-break fight for both – and Holland has regularly stumbled in these scenarios. But Chiesa’s long absence from the octagon is hard to overlook.

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