UFC 291 is tonight and the fight card is something to get excited for. A sadly rare occurrence in the time we find ourselves in. The headliner tonight is Dustin Poirier vs. Justin Gaethje 2, a fight which feels impossible to disappoint. The co-main is a very intriguing match-up between Alex Pereira and Jan Blachowicz. We’ve also got Tony Ferguson vs. Bobby Green and Kevin Holland vs. Michael Chiesa.
The BE staff has looked at all these match-ups and made our picks. Now it’s time for the readers to do the same. Read below to see who the BE readers think will win tonight. There’s also extra analysis from Tommy, DJNI, Luke G and Zeist Priest.
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UFC 291 Readers’ Picks
Dustin Poirier vs. Justin Gaethje
Readers’ Pick: Dustin Poirier (76.9%)
DJNI: I think Dustin Poirier wins because he’s the better fighter. Probably the same way or more impressively than he did their first fight. I think it’s possible for Justin to get a win but I believe Poirier wins 9 out of 10 times.
Tommy: Really looking forward to this fight Gaethje is definitely improved from their first fight but the problem is so has Poirier. Poirier to win an absolute slugfest going to late stoppage. TKO RD4.
Luke G: Poirier. Lord, what a fight to pick. Since their first fight, both men have only lost to Chucky and Khabib. Both guys have further developed their technical brawler styles. Taking all that into consideration I see this playing out mostly like their first fight and I’m going to hope Dustin checks the leg kicks early this time around. The last fight was so close this could go either way but my money is always on Diamond in a brawl.
Zeist Priest: I know it’s unlikely that this won’t be entertaining, but it does exemplify the wheel spinning at the top of lightweight that’s been going on a while. On top of there are reasons to be concerned, like that this is at elevation (and how terrible that was last time), the wars these guys have been in, and how old they are in fight age at least (13 years pro for Gaethje, 15 for Poirier). Dustin does seem more technical, but does that matter here? I’m not confident here, but I’m gonna take Gaethje.
Jan Blachowicz vs. Alex Pereira
Readers’ Pick: Jan Blachowicz (61.5%)
DJNI: Going with Blachowicz. I think he’s a more complete fighter and until Alex passes this test at light heavyweight I can’t bet on him.
Tommy: Blachowicz should be too strong for Pereira as long as he doesn’t get sloppy and get caught by a power punch he should be able to hang with Pereira on the feet and get a couple of takedowns as well.
Luke G: Jan. I take no pleasure in reporting that I’m really concerned with Pereira’s takedown defense. All I can think about while making my picks is that Jan and Izzy fight. Jan showed up committed to his wrestling and won the boring fight. That being said Alex is more dangerous and larger than Izzy so maybe I’m wrong but today my fear wins.
Zeist Priest: Great fight, again I can see a number of outcomes. Noose powers vs Easter Island Golem. Maybe it’s a mistake taking two gut vs analysis picks in a row, but I’m picking Pereira. Youth, mileage and power to prevail.
Derrick Lewis vs. Marcos Rogerio de Lima
Readers’ Pick: Marcos Rogerio de Lima (69.2%)
DJNI: I’m picking Derrick Lewis to put that positive energy into the universe. At the very least so we can get another Lewis post fight interview. P.S. My balls was hot.
Tommy: Could be a case of who lands first both have KO power. Lewis is the more polished fighter whereas de Lima swings a lot. Lewis hasn’t looked good in his last few fights and can see another loss here. De Lima by KO Rd 2.
Luke G: Lewis. Man, I don’t know, if Derrick loses this one it might really be over. I’m just hoping for one more piece of flat footed one punch magic before he rides into the sunset.
Zeist Priest: Derrick Lewis doesn’t win decisions, and he doesn’t beat guys unless he’s given space. That on top of this being at elevation? Oof. Rogerio takes it.
Tony Ferguson vs. Bobby Green
Readers’ Pick: Bobby Green (92.3%)
DJNI: Bobby Green gets the W because Tony Ferguson is a hot mess. Until Tony shows anything other than a constant stream of bad choices I can’t pick him.
Tommy: Absolutely love Tony Ferguson such a warrior but his last fight against Nate Diaz he was a shadow of his former self. At 40 years old on a losing streak, does he still want it? Green by decision.
Luke G: Bobby Green. Frankly Ferg is shot and if he stays standing I wouldn’t be shocked if Bobby Green sets some kind of significant strike record.
Zeist Priest: Bobby Green is a veteran of the game. Crafty and resourceful, a bit slower, but still dangerous. Sadly, only some of those descriptions fit Tony in 2023. Green via depression.
Michael Chiesa vs. Kevin Holland
Readers’ Pick: Michael Chiesa (53.8%)
DJNI: Uhhh Michael Chiesa? Yeah sure, Chiesa. I feel like the positives and negatives for each fighter kinda equal out in skills and the intangibles. But I’ll go with Chiesa because I have to imagine the fight will make it to the ground and that he’ll be able to end it there.
Tommy: Should be a good fight this one, quite evenly matched. Chiesa has been inactive for 20 months which is a concern. I’ll take Holland by decision.
Luke G: Chiesa. I enjoy Holland a lot but he fights a lot of dumb fights. He absolutely has the power to nuke Chiesa but I find the chance he crashes into Chiesa’s superior clinch way too likely to pick him.
Zeist Priest: Two guys with one win since the end of 2020. Chiesa hasn’t fought in nearly two years, and is somehow still ranked. I guess I’ll take the younger, active guy who’s gone down in weight and not the older, inactive guy who’s come up a weight class. Holland.
Gabriel Bonfim vs. Trevin Giles
Readers’ Pick: Gabriel Bonfim (76.9%)
DJNI: Bonfim based on be the younger undefeated fighter who I think has the better fight IQ.
Tommy: Really rate Bonfim he’s a favourite for a reason, better striking better grappling. A combination of the two gets the job done. Bonfim by submission Rd 2.
Luke G: Bonfim. Don’t have a real read on this beyond Gabriel having shown himself to be a solidly nasty submission threat and Giles has been submitted a couple times.
Zeist Priest: A good test to see where Bonfim is at. I’m very tempted to side with Giles here – and if I were a gambler, I might with those odds. But with mere internet points and the worthless admiration of my friends on the line, I’ll take Bonfim.
C.J. Vergara vs. Vinicius Salvador
Readers’ Pick: CJ Vergara (84.6%)
DJNI: CJ Vergara will win. If I’m wrong blame Zane and Connor.
Tommy: Can’t see either guy getting a decisive win here. I think Vergara should have enough to outlast Salvador who will gas late on. Vergara by decision.
Luke G: Vergara. Salvador just kinda seems like a mess who had a bad debut.
Zeist Priest: This is a great fight, and a tough one to pick, but Vergara has only lost to killers, and while Salvador looks great, Vergara has the bigger upside. Vergara takes it.
Roman Kopylov vs. Claudio Ribeiro
Readers’ Pick: Roman Kopylov (92.3%)
DJNI: Claudio Ribeiro for fire power vs a hitable opponent.
Tommy: Quite like Kopylov. Seems good everywhere the only concern is his cardio if it goes late. Ribeiro has KO power, but not really fought any really notable fighters. Kopylov KO RD 2.
Luke G: Kopylov. Both guys have power. Seems like Kopylov’s losses have mostly come to superior grapplers while Ribeiro has already been KO’d at the UFC level.
Zeist Priest: Some upside to both guys, I know people are hot on Kopylov, but I dunno just yet. I mean – I’m still picking him, though.
Jake Matthews vs. Darrius Flowers
Readers’ Pick: Jake Matthews (69.2%)
DJNI: Mathew for being a more complete fighter.
Tommy: Should be a decent fight this on. I think Matthews will just be too smart and get the job done. Matthews submission Rd 2.
Luke G: Matthews. Flowers really seems like the definition of the kind of regional fighters that have lucked into contracts when Dana needs to fill the roster off contenders series. He’s strong as shit but Matthews is still a decent boxer that I don’t think Flowers can handle that.
Zeist Priest: This mightn’t be the smartest pick, but Matthews is kind of the new Erick Silva in my eyes. Flowers for the upset.
Matthew Semelsberger vs. Uros Medic
Readers’ Pick: Matthew Semelsberger (61.5%)
DJNI: Medic based on coin flip.
Tommy: With Medic moving up a weight class I think he’s going to struggle with the power of Semelsberger and get caught. Semelsberger by KO RD 2.
Luke G: Semelsberger. I’m going to be perfectly honest, I have a soft spot for Semi. I watched his debut and immediately noticed he’s got a tattoo for a local Minneapolis band I grew up loving so I find myself picking him even when I shouldn’t. The bettors are on my side here so maybe they like Doomtree too.
Zeist Priest: If this wasn’t short notice, I’d take Medic. As it is, Semelsberger is the pick.
Miranda Maverick vs. Priscila Cachoeira
Readers’ Pick: Miranda Maverick (69.2%)
DJNI: Miranda Maverick for funzies. I really don’t have a good feeling either way.
Tommy: Question is which Maverick turns up, she can be good and bad. Think the good one will turn up for this fight only issue is I think she is on short notice. Maverick by Decision.
Luke G: Cachoeira. Maverick got absolutely bullied in her last fight with Jasudavicius and I think Priscila has the ability to replicate that approach. Especially with Maverick taking this fight so fast.
Zeist Priest: I’m siding with Cachoeira. A few years back, this would have been unthinkable – Maverick looked like an unstoppable future title contender, and Cachoeira looked like a punching bag. But with Maverick taking this short notice, and the trajectory of their careers, I’m taking Cachoeira on this.
Who gets a Performance of the Night award?
Readers’ Pick: Bobby Green (38.5%), Dustin Poirier (30.8%).
DJNI: Blachowicz for his finish of Pereira and Lewis for his knock out of Marcos.
Tommy: Poirier and Gaethje, I imagine this being a war with both fighters deserving performance of the night. Only other one maybe is de Lima if secures a hard KO of Lewis.
Luke G: Green. Putting a hundred punches on a vet’s face usually isn’t a bad way to get 50k.
Zeist Priest: Cachoeira gets one if she pulls off the upset and it’s not a slog. As does Holland if he looks slick.
Which fight wins Fight of the Night?
Readers’ Pick: Dustin Poirier vs. Justin Gaethje (92.3%)
DJNI: Dustin Poirier vs Justin Gaethje. It’s a fight designed for Maximum Carnage. So much so that it will be at least slightly disappointing if there is a quick finish.
Tommy: Gaethje vs Poirier this is what the UFC is all about; two fighters giving absolutely everything to win.
Luke G: Poirier and Gaetjhe. This is why we’re here and the likelihood of back and forth violence is high.
Zeist Priest: Unless the *ustins implode, they’re taking it.
Which fight are you most excited for?
Readers’ Pick: Dustin Poirier vs. Justin Gaethje (76.9%)
DJNI: Dustin Poirier vs Justin Gaethje because there are not many fights that have the kind of potential for high entertainment, high skill, and high fives.
Tommy: Poirier vs Gaethje, been looking forward to this fight as soon as it was announced love both fighters and although I think Poirier by late stoppage, I would love Gaethje to win the BMF belt.
Luke G: I mean its Dustin/Justin but to make it interesting I’ll say Jan and Alex. Very curious to see if Alex can defy my pick and stake a claim at the LHW title immediately
Zeist Priest: Vergara vs Salvador. Two fun up-and-comers in an electric divisions.
Christophe remains in the lead thanks to a very strong 11-3 record last week. He’s trailed by Adamy Law and Jeremy. Luke G also had an 11-3 week last time out.
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