UFC Fight Night: Poirier vs. Pettis Preview
A preview of Saturday’s UFC Fight Night card, set to take place in Norfolk, Va.
Updated: Nov. 9, 2017 • 8:23 PM ET
Anthony Pettis is attempting to regain his status as a UFC champion.
UFC Fight Night 120 will be in Norfolk, Va. this Saturday, featuring a top lightweight contender against a former champion attempting to regain elite-level relevancy.
No. 8 ranked lightweight Dustin Poirier will face former lightweight champion Anthony Pettis in the main event of a loaded card. Poirier hasn’t fought since a no contest result against Eddie Alvarez in May. The fight had Fight of the Year potential, until it was stopped due to Poirier suffering illegal knees to the head while on the ground. Poirier had former champion Alvarez badly hurt in the fight, until Alvarez returned the favor before the stoppage.
Excluding the no contest against Alvarez, Poirier is 5-1 in his last seven fights and has looked much more comfortable fighting at 155 pounds after making his UFC debut as a featherweight in 2011. Still just 28 years old, Poirier has gained much-needed experience to now be fighting in arguably the toughest division in the UFC. He has fought the likes of featherweight champion Max Holloway, current lightweight champion Conor McGregor and top featherweight contender Cub Swanson. A win over a marquee name such as Pettis could catapult Poirier into the top five of a loaded division.
Pettis is 2-4 in his last six bouts, but that record may not be as bad as it may indicate. He suffered three decision losses in a row (one split) from May 2015 to April 2016, one of which he lost the lightweight title to Rafael Dos Anjos. Prior to those losses, he was considered by many to be one of the most exciting fighters in the UFC. After his third consecutive loss at lightweight, he dropped to featherweight and scored a submission victory over Charles Oliveira, which landed him a fight with Max Holloway for the interim featherweight title at UFC 206. Pettis looked considerably drained from the weight-cut and was easily beaten by Holloway.
Pettis moved back up to lightweight for UFC 213 and scored a dominant decision victory over UFC veteran Jim Miller. A win over a top 10 contender such as Poirier is exactly what the 30-year-old needs to get back on the list as one of the top fighters in the UFC.
Saturday’s co-main event will be a welterweight battle between Matt Brown and Diego Sanchez, two fighters who aren’t strangers to inflicting and absorbing damage. For Brown, it’ll be the last time he experiences both as he has announced that his retirement will follow the fight. Brown wants to walk away from the sport on a high note and not be a middle-of-the-road fighter.
“I didn’t get into this to be a journeyman, or to be in second place,” Brown said on the MMA Hour in September. “I came into this to be a champion and I got very, very close to that. I think I was one round away from beating Robbie Lawler and getting to a title shot.”
Brown nearly earned that title shot after winning seven fights in a row from February 2012 to May 2014. That title shot was prevented by a controversial unanimous decision loss to former champion Robbie Lawler in July 2014. Since then, Brown has gone 1-5 and most recently suffered a vicious knockout loss to Donald Cerrone almost a year ago. Brown will most certainly walk away from the sport with a warrior’s spirit, but he won’t exit with an easy contest.
Sanchez has been in the UFC since being one of the winners of the first installment of The Ultimate Fighter series in 2005. He has been a part of some of the most epic battles in UFC history, as he has won Fight of the Night honors six times. His fight with Gilbert Melendez in 2013 has been considered by many as one of the greatest fights in UFC history.
One thing fans can count on seeing in a Sanchez fight is his ability to endure and shake off punishment. One of the strongest parts of his game has been his chin; however, he has been finished by first-round strikes in two of his last three fights. Most recently, he was finished by Al Iaquinta in April, and he’ll likely have to eat shots to get by the heavy-handed Brown. The question is whether Sanchez will be able to handle those shots, or once again be on the wrong end of a KO.
Sanchez doesn’t agree that his chin is leaving him behind. After his loss to Iaquinta, Sanchez wrote on his Instagram account, “(Losing) is a part of this sport, I choose to believe in my god given abilities and (hard) work earned talent! I choose to believe in my dream! I am confident, I am experienced, i am still very healthy, young for my physical age and more driven and hungry for success than ever.”
The rest of the main card
Heavyweight fight - No. 11 Junior Albini vs. No. 12 Andrei Arlovski
Middleweight fight - Nate Marquardt vs. Cezar Ferreira
Bantamweight fight - No. 4 Raphael Assuncao vs. No. 13 Matthew Lopez
Lightweight fight - Joe Lauzon vs. Clay Guida
Bantamweight fight - No. 8 John Dodson vs. No. 9 Marlon Moraes
Women’s strawweight fight - Tatiana Suarez vs. Viviane Pereira
Lightweight fight - Sage Northcutt vs. Michael Quinones
Women’s strawweight fight - Angela Hill vs. Nina Ansaroff
UFC Fight Pass Early Prelims
Welterweight fight - Court McGee vs. Sean Strickland
Light heavyweight fight - Jake Collier vs. Marcel Fortuna
Middleweight fight - Darren Stewart vs. Karl Roberson