UFC Fight Night 120 Betting Breakdown: Pettis vs. Poirier
Prior to each UFC fight card, Jay Primetown takes a look at some of the key contests at each event. In the latest installment, we look ahead to co-main event at UFC on Fox 21 as Anthony Pettis drops down to featherweight to take on Charles Oliveira in Vancouver, Canada.
Anthony Pettis (Record: 20-6, -125 Favorite, Power Ranking: B+)
The Milwaukee-born and raised mixed martial artist has been training in multiple disciplines since he was five years old. He was a third degree black belt in taekwondo by the time he started fighting professionally in MMA. Pettis enters this fight on the back of his first two fight losing streak of his professional career and is in desperate need of a win.
The former WEC turned UFC lightweight champion has beaten some of the best fighters ever in the weight class including Donald Cerrone (2x), Benson Henderson (2x), and Gilbert Melendez. Pettis is as creative of a striker as they come and does well when he’s able to keep distance and land with any variety of striking. He combines that with a very sneaky ground game. He’s excellent in transitions and has shown he can beat top level fighters in that way. The method to beat Pettis is a combination of pressure striking on the feet and locking him up or taking him to the ground and keeping him there. Either way, it’s stifling his offensive attack that is the key to beating Pettis. It can be done, but it requires the right abilities and a proper game plan.
Dustin Poirier (Record: 21-5-1, +105 Underdog, Power Ranking: B)
The Louisiana-born and raised fighter has been a perennial top 15 fighter at both featherweight and lightweight. He’s coming off a bout with former lightweight champion Eddie Alvarez in which he had the fighter badly hurt, but the fight was a ruled a no contest after Alvarez landed an illegal knee to Poirier’s head in the second round. That bout was in May 2017.
The American Top Team lightweight has become one of the most entertaining fighters in the division. He’s a very strong starter as he opens his bouts on the offensive with an aggressive striking approach. He is a volume heavy striker landing historically over five significant strikes per minute at a 49% success clip. Defensively he’s pretty solid absorbing just 3.46 significant strikes per minute. He has above average power for the weight class and will go for the finish as soon as he senses it. At times he has employed effective offensive wrestling, but his approach to wrestling is not consistent. In many of his bouts, he has completely abandoned takedown attempts and focused simply on striking. He used to be lethal on the ground with one of the better d’arce chokes in MMA, but hasn’t earned a submission victory since 2012. Defensively is where he has had the most issues. He’s hittable on the feet and his over aggression has gotten the most of him at times. His last two losses have been by knockout against quality strikers. He’s been one to want to show he can compete with the division’s best strikers, but that has come back to bite him. Furthermore, he has had struggles with top talent and has struggled to get wins against top competition.
In an exciting matchup between top 15 lightweights, Dustin Poirier takes on Anthony Pettis in the main event of UFC Fight Night 120 in Norfolk, Virginia. For Poirier, he’s now facing former UFC lightweight champions back to back. For Poirier, this is an important opportunity to really solidify himself as a top ten lightweight and put himself in title contention. It won’t be easy for him as Pettis has proven durable throughout his career having been finished just once; a TKO loss to Max Holloway. Expect Poirier to put pressure on Pettis early. He’ll look to get inside to nullify Pettis’ kicking game and ability to strike from range. The problem Poirier has that while he starts well; he tends to struggle as fights wear on. Pettis certainly is a patient striker and over the course of five rounds is capable of catching Poirier. Look for Pettis to catch Poirier and eventually earn a finish. It may not be easy for the former lightweight champion and he may even lose the first round of the bout and have to come from behind, but he’s tactically the better fighter with more tools in his arsenal. I expect the talent to rise in this fight and earn the win. At a price of -125, Pettis is a worthy play in a bout in which he should be a -175 favorite in.