By Michael Angelo S. Murillo
DUSTIN “The Diamond” Poirier threw his name into the mix of top title contenders in the stacked Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) lightweight division in a fiery victory at “UFC on Fox 29” on Sunday (Manila time) in Arizona just as welterweight Alex “Cowboy” Oliveira topped his own fight in the co-main event.
Up against hometown bet Justin “The Highlight” Gaethje, Mr. Poirier emerged victorious with power and precision in a highly explosive contest that finished in the third round by way of technical knockout (punches).
Mr. Oliveira, meanwhile, got back on the winning track by submitting “The Natural Born Killer” Carlos Condit via guillotine choke in the second round.
Arizona native Gaethje had his groove early, throwing leg kicks after leg kicks that had Mr. Poirier adjusting his stance throughout.
But the Louisiana fighter would stay the course with crisp combinations that also inflicted damage.
He would find an entry point as the third round drew to a close, landing a series of big shots that took the legs out of Mr. Gaethje. Mr. Poirier continued to pound on his obviously hurt opponent, prompting referee Herb Dean to stop the contest with 33 ticks left in the round.
The win, his third straight, improved number five contender Poirier to 23-5 while Mr. Gaethje (18-2) slumped to his second straight defeat.
“Justin is a warrior. I respect him. There is no give-up on him,” said Mr. Poirier after his win, referring to Mr. Gaethje in a fight many consider to be a “fight of the year” contender after both fighters brought it all.
He went on to call out UFC President Dana White and reigning lightweight champ Khabib Nurmagomedov for a title shot.
For his part, Mr. Oliveira (19-4-1) got back on the winning track by compounding on the woes of former champion Condit.
The fighters had their moments in the early goings until Mr. Oliveira connected with an upkick to the jaw in the second round that immediately sent an already-bloodied Condit down.
From there it was all Mr. Oliveira, who worked his way for a guillotine choke and went for the finish thereafter. The fight was stopped at the 3:17 mark of the round.
The loss was the fourth straight for Mr. Condit (30-12) and seventh in his last nine fights.
In other fights at UFC on Fox 29, Israel “The Last Stylebender” Adesanya defeated Marvin “The Italian Dream” Vettori by split decision while women’s strawweight “The Karate Hottie” Michelle Waterson beat Cortney “Cast Iron” Casey also by split decision.
Next for the UFC is “UFC Fight Night 128” in Atlantic City, New Jersey, on April 22 (Manila time) that will feature the lightweight battle between Edson “Junior” Barboza and Kevin “The Motown Phenom” Lee.
In the Philippines, Cignal TV, the country’s foremost direct-to-home (DTH) company, is the home of the UFC after the two groups agreed to an extensive deal that will see the UFC beamed on various platforms.