UFC on Fox 29: Five takeaways from Saturday's event in Arizona

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Dustin Poirier (Getty Photographs)

Recent off the chaos of UFC 223, the Octagon shifted west to the Gila River Area in Glendale, Ariz., for the third UFC on Fox event of the yr.

Headlined by light-weight savages Dustin Poirier and Justin Gaethje, this card was extremely anticipated inside the hardcore set. It featured an impressive mix of established favorites and rising skills mixing it up contained in the cage.

Whereas occasions carrying that sort of anticipation can typically fall flat, Saturday’s card in the desert definitely didn’t.

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Listed here are 5 key takeaways and speaking factors from UFC on Fox: Poirier vs. Gaethje:

1. Poirier is a part of the light-weight elite

Poirier has spent his profession on the fringes of rivalry in two totally different divisions — first at featherweight, and now at light-weight. Every time he has been near difficult for championship gold, the Louisiana native has stumbled.

Towards Gaethje on Saturday night time, the 29-yr-previous veteran collected the most important win of his profession by primarily beating the hometown favourite at his personal recreation. From the outset, Poirier stored a torrid tempo, hitting Gaethje with mixtures and outworking the previous World Collection of Preventing champ.

Traditionally, Gaethje has been capable of survive and rally, breaking his opponents’ spirits earlier than doing the identical to their physique, however the roles have been reversed this time round. Early in the fourth, Poirier put “The Spotlight” on curler skates and stepped on the gassed, urgent ahead with clear, exact photographs that lastly put Gaethje on the canvas and introduced referee Herb Dean in to wave off the battle.

Following the competition, Poirier referred to as for a showdown with new champion Khabib Nurmagomedov, which would definitely be a terrific struggle, however the battle everybody appears to be extra in seeing proper now’s a rematch with Eddie Alvarez. Poirier and Alvarez battled to a no-contest final Might and Poirier has been pushing to run it again ever since.

If the UFC has different plans for Nurmagomedov, a second bout between Poirier and Alvarez can be a good way to determine the subsequent light-weight title contender.

2. Alternative knocked and Oliveira answered

Alex Oliveira jumped on the alternative to share the cage with Carlos Condit when Condit’s unique opponent, Matt Brown, was pressured out of the bout with a knee damage. Regardless of little prep time and a troublesome task, the Brazilian “Cowboy” acknowledged that an opportunity to face a former interim champion and perennial contender in the co-foremost event of a nationally televised broadcast was too good to move up.

After a troublesome first spherical that noticed Condit threaten with submissions and largely management the motion, Oliveira snatched up a excessive-elbow guillotine choke halfway by way of the second spherical and held on tight as “The Pure Born Killer” tried to defend. As Condit squirmed, Oliveira squeezed and ultimately the faucet got here.

This was by far the most important win of the 30-yr-previous’s profession and the type of displaying that ought to elevate the all the time-motion fighter into the rankings.

Condit is now in a troublesome spot as a result of he was in management for almost all of the struggle however nonetheless got here out on the flawed aspect. He has misplaced 4 in a row and is 2-7 over his final 9, leaving many to wonder if it’s time for him to name it quits.

three. Endurance is vital with Adesanya

Many individuals have been singing the praises of Israel Adesanya, “The Final Stylebender,” after his UFC debut. He was spectacular and entertaining in placing away Rob Wilkinson in a preliminary bout at UFC 221 in Perth, Australia. He was mentioned as a future middleweight contender and in comparison with Jon Jones, which tells you ways pumped up individuals have been about his first efficiency and his potential.

Saturday night time in Glendale, Adensanya struggled via a 3-spherical grind towards Marvin Vettori. He got here away with a cut up-determination victory to take care of his good document, however he pressured everybody to pump the brakes on his hype practice.

Let’s be clear: The 28-yr-previous continues to be thrilling, and all the weather that had individuals enthusiastic about him popping out of UFC 221 stay intact, however he’s nonetheless placing all of it collectively and wishes time to develop.

We generally tend to need to rush prospects – to immediately see them examined towards established veterans and hustle them into rivalry – however that not often is sensible, and it doesn’t proper now with Adesanya.

This was the hardest battle of his profession, and the primary battle in which he went the space. He continues to point out promise, nevertheless it’s time to chill the title speak and permit him to maintain logging rounds and enhancing. The middleweight division is flush with expertise, so let’s be affected person and provides Adesanya the chance to succeed in his potential fairly than throwing him into the deep finish too shortly.

four. Judges nonetheless haven’t any clue

Cortney Casey formally dropped a cut up determination to Michelle Waterson in the primary-card opener. She gained the battle 30-27 on my unofficial scorecard, and in the event you survey the scores filed by my contemporaries in the media , you’ll see the overwhelming majority agreed with decide Sal D’Amato and myself.

I by no means like elevating factors like this, however I’m genuinely unsure how anybody might have scored that battle for Waterson. Casey gained nearly all of the putting exchanges and threatened with submissions each time they went to the bottom. Although Waterson initiated the takedowns, she was pressured to defend all through and fighters don’t rating factors for defending.

No less than, they are not presupposed to.

Waterson had some constructive moments and her takedowns have been strong, however to actually make them rely she wanted to do one thing with them, and Casey was persistently the one benefiting from their time on the mat.

This wasn’t a again-and-forth the place handing out the 9s and 10s amounted to splitting hairs; Casey ought to have taken residence a victory and it’s unhappy that 25 years in, the judges nonetheless haven’t any clue.

5. ‘Shoe Face’ is a critical menace at middleweight

Antonio Carlos Junior is an issue in the 185-pound weight class.

The 28-yr-previous Brazilian grappling ace collected his fifth consecutive victory and third straight submission win, tapping out Tim Boetsch contained in the opening 5 minutes. Whereas he is not ending fools as shortly as Demian Maia was when he first descended upon the division greater than a decade in the past, the person often known as “Shoe Face” is near that degree and a greater general athlete than Maia, which makes him a handful to cope with contained in the Octagon.

He ought to break into the rankings after this efficiency, and he is the sort of specialist that fighters are going to need to keep away from. Like Maia, he simply must get his palms on an opponent to start out attacking, and his expertise on the bottom are world-class. Coaching at American Prime Staff and with a body that allowed him to struggle at mild heavyweight in the early days of his profession, “ACJ” is popping right into a critical menace in the middleweight division. Will probably be fascinating to see what he can do as soon as he will get to share the cage with the division’s elite.