UFC Fight Night: Alvarez vs. Poirier 2 Preview
A preview of Saturday’s UFC Fight Night card, set to take place in Calgary, Alberta.
Updated: July 26, 2018 • 11:55 AM ET
Jose Aldo is looking to regain his place among the best pound-for-pound fighters.
The UFC will roll into Calgary, Alberta this weekend for UFC Fight Night and feature a lightweight fight with major title implications. No. 3 ranked lightweight Eddie Alvarez will take on No. 4 Dustin Poirier in the main event with the winner possibly being the next in line for a title shot.
The two originally fought at UFC 211 last May, but the fight was ruled a no contest after Alvarez landed an illegal knee on Poirier in the second round. Up to that point, the fight looked like a possible Fight of the Year candidate, as both fighters landed devastating blows that stunned one another. Alvarez looked all but out on his feet, but somehow recovered and dropped Poirier — the illegal knee landed shortly after. Saturday’s fight will likely provide the same kind of fireworks as the first fight, but with title drama attached, as well.
Alvarez is coming off a tremendous performance in his last fight at UFC 218 in December, when he finished Justin Gaethje in the third round. The bout was one of the best fights of the year and proved how tough Alvarez really is. Redeeming himself against Poirier could put Alvarez one step closer to his ultimate goal of getting back the title that he lost to Conor McGregor at UFC 205.
The 34-year-old Philadelphian is entering the last fight on his UFC contract and believes the promotion should want him to stick around.
“I don’t believe it’s significant, no,” Alvarez recently told The MMA Hour when asked if he and the UFC were far apart on negotiations of a new contract. “Considering how much the company makes, no. It’s peanuts — it’s a quarter.
“They’d be flicking me a quarter, considering what they make when I fight. But what I’m asking for is not just what I feel I deserve right now In the past eight fights, I look at who I fought — co-main and main events, some of the largest cards in UFC history. With the McGregor fight, sell out crowd, selling out MSG. I’ve been involved in some pretty lucrative (fights) and I feel like I should be shared with a little more considering. It is what it is. That’s business, man. That’s just the way it goes sometimes.”
In those fights Alvarez mentioned, he defeated Rafael Dos Anjos, Anthony Pettis, Gilbert Melendez and Gaethje, all former champions or title challengers. He’s also a former Bellator champion and with the fight against Gaethje, Alvarez won over fans that may have been skeptical of his abilities after the McGregor fight. A victory over Poirier could put him at the front of the line regarding title talk, which of course depends on when McGregor and Tony Ferguson return to action.
Meanwhile, it’s hard to believe that Poirier isn’t 30 years old yet, considering he has fought in the UFC since 2011. He started as a featherweight, but has looked like a different fighter since moving up to lightweight. Poirier believes a win against Alvarez would put him in position to challenge for the title.
"I'm positive I will get a title shot after this,” Poirier recently told ESPN. “I am 100 percent positive. This will be my fourth fight in a row against a world champion.
“Alvarez, Pettis, Gaethje and Alvarez again. Pettis is a former lightweight champion in the UFC and WEC, and Gaethje was champ of that division in the WSOF. And I'm not just beating these guys, I'm punishing these guys."
Poirier added, “If someone would have asked me three years ago if I would have fought for a belt by now, winning seven of eight, I definitely would have said yes. This division is crazy. After this weekend, when I do get my title shot, nobody can say I didn't earn it."
Of those eight fights, Poirier’s only loss was to former lightweight contender Michael Johnson, who has since moved to featherweight. Along with the previously mentioned fighters, Poirier has also defeated Jim Miller, Max Holloway and Yancy Medeiros. A win against Alvarez will give him his third straight and potentially his first ever title shot.
Saturday’s co-main event will also have possible title implications, as former champion and No. 2 ranked featherweight Jose Aldo takes on No. 4 Jeremy Stephens.
Aldo will attempt to rebound from two straight losses to featherweight champion Max Holloway. Prior to losing the title to Conor McGregor at UFC 195 in 2015, Aldo defended the belt six times and didn’t lose a fight in seven years. The 31-year-old was once considered one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the world and will go down as one the greatest featherweights of all-time. The list of fighters he has defeated is long and includes Frankie Edgar (twice), Urijah Faber, Chad Mendes (twice), Cub Swanson, Kenny Florian, Ricardo Lamas and Chan Sung Jung.
With a win on Saturday, Aldo could gain a second attempt at getting his title back, but from who remains the question. Holloway was supposed to defend his belt against No. 1 ranked Brian Ortega at UFC 226 earlier this month, but he was pulled from the fight due to what are still uncertain medical reasons. Aldo is down for any challenge, but even with a victory against Stephens, he’ll likely have to be patient if he wants another title shot.
Stephens has fought in the UFC since 2007 and is only 32 years old. He’s currently experiencing the best part of his career, and a victory over Aldo would give him his biggest win to date.
Stephens is a former hard-hitting lightweight that has been more consistent and dominant since moving to featherweight. He’s riding a three-fight winning streak and most recently defeated Josh Emmett by second-round knockout in February. He has also defeated Dooho Choi, Gilbert Melendez, Renan Barao, Darren Elkins and Rafael Dos Anjos.
Stephens was offered an interim title fight against Brian Ortega at UFC 226, but Ortega turned down the fight. Stephens has shown that he will fight anyone, anywhere; if he can get a win against another former champion for his fourth straight, it will be difficult to deny him a title shot.
Also on the main card
The main card will also feature a strawweight fight between former champion and No. 1 ranked Joanna Jedrzejczyk and No. 5 Tecia Torres. The former champion will try to get back to her winning ways after losing the title and two straight to champion Rose Namajunas. Prior to the losses, Jedrzejczyk was undefeated.
The 30-year-old Poland native is 14-2 overall and the most successful women’s champion in UFC history. A convincing win against Torres will put her right back in the title conversation, and she’ll certainly try her best to trash talk her way to a third fight against Namajunas.
Torres is 6-2 in the UFC and will try to rebound from her last fight, which was a three-round decision loss to former title challenger Jessica Andrade. Her only other loss was to Namajunas in 2016 in what was considered a somewhat controversial decision. Torres has wins over Michelle Waterson and Bec Rawlings, but a victory over Jedrzejczyk would without a doubt be the biggest of her career.
Rounding out the main card will be a lightweight fight between No. 13 Alexander Hernandez and Olivier Aubin-Mercier.
Hernandez (9-1) made a successful UFC debut at UFC 222 in March by defeating Beneil Dariush via first round knockout. The 25-year-old is considered a top prospect, but could be one win away from facing a legitimate title contender.
The 29-year-old Aubin-Mercier (7-2 in UFC) is on a four-fight winning streak, having most recently defeated Evan Dunham by first-round TKO at UFC 223. With a win over Hernandez, he can prove that he has been overlooked as a contender.
Welterweight fight - Jordan Mein vs. Alex Morono
Featherweight fight - Hakeem Dawodu vs. Austin Arnett
Lightweight fight - Kajan Johnson vs. Islam Makhachev
Light heavyweight fight - No. 14 Gadzhimurad Antigulov vs. Ion Cuțelaba
UFC Fight Pass Early Prelims
Lightweight fight - John Makdessi vs. Ross Pearson
Women’s flyweight fight - No. 3 Alexis Davis vs. No. 7 Katlyn Chookagian
Flyweight fight - No. 9 Dustin Ortiz vs. No. 12 Matheus Nicolau
Strawweight fight - No. 12 Randa Markos vs. No. 13 Nina Ansaroff
Lightweight fight - Devin Powell vs. Álvaro Herrera
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