Fighter to Watch

Five Fights to Watch at UFC 291

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UFC 291 is almost upon us with a scintillating card that is sure to deliver some high-quality, edge-of-your-seat action.

Let’s take a look at five of the most promising bouts on this stacked card.

Five Fights to Watch at UFC 291

Derrick Lewis vs. Marcos Rogerio De Lima

Once considered one of the best heavyweights in the UFC, it appears that age may have finally caught up with Derrick Lewis. Now 38, for the first time in his career, he is on a three-fight losing streak and has slipped to number 11 in the rankings. Admittedly, Lewis’s last three fights have been against some of the toughest names in the division at the moment, with Tai Tuivasa, Sergei Pavlovich, and Sergey Spivak representing a murderers’ row of sorts.

Known for his knockout power and strength, Lewis has always had the ability to put people’s lights out with a single punch and to simply shrug off any grappling or takedown attempts. Traditionally, power is thought to be the last thing to leave a fighter, and Lewis will likely be relying on it come Saturday night.

His opponent, Marcos Rogerio De Lima, will see this as a massive opportunity. De Lima, who is also 38, has been in the UFC for years, making his debut back in 2014. While consistently ranked in the lower half of the top-15, he has failed to ever gain substantial momentum and come up against the big boys of the division.

In his last five fights, “Pezão” (Portuguese for Bigfoot) is 4-1. A win over a former title contender in Lewis would be massive for him and would surely open the door for a few big fights before he comes to the end of his career.

Michael Chiesa vs. Kevin Holland

Another welterweight clash on the card, Michael Chiesa will be looking to successfully defend his place in the rankings against the always energetic and entertaining Kevin Holland.

Holland will be hoping to change his fortune against ranked fighters after suffering back-to-back losses against Khamzat Chimaev and Stephen Thompson, respectively. He reclaimed a little momentum with a KO finish over Argentine veteran Santiago Ponzinibbio, and now finally has his third ranked opponent at Welterweight.

Sitting somewhat lower in the standings than Holland’s previous opponents, Chiesa is currently No. 12 in the top-15 and is coming off of two losses against Vicente Luque and Sean Brady, respectively. Not having fought in over a year, it is vital for Chiesa to pick up the win here in order to not be left behind. It is equally important for Holland to get the victory as this could be his last chance for quite a while to gain a spot in the rankings.

When moving down from middleweight, Holland looked extremely impressive in his new weight class, but the losses and the one-sidedness of them against both Chimaev and Thompson damaged the hype about his welterweight run considerably. Another loss at this stage of his career now would set him back several fights and could possibly spell the end of him ever being ranked again in the welterweight division.

This matchup will be a typical case of a grappler vs. striker, with Holland likely having a distinct advantage on the feet, while Chiesa is more than capable of wrapping up his opponent in several submissions if the fight hits the mat.

Dustin Poirier vs. Justin Gaethje

There is a reason why this fight is the main event. Speculated for some time now, the proposed rematch between Poirier and Gaethje has left many fans drooling at the thought. Finally, the two will square off once again over five years after their first meeting back in 2018. Since then, they have both asserted themselves as top dogs in the lightweight division, yet have somehow managed to avoid fighting one another again.

Both have challenged for the title twice, both have been unsuccessful in each of these challenges, and both have consistently maintained their claim to the top rankings in the division by knocking off contenders such as Michael Chandler, Dan Hooker, and Rafael Fiziev. With both men likely entering the later stages of their careers, they will be hoping for a final push at championship gold, and the winner of this fight will certainly be looking for the title fight next.

To add stakes to this contest, the fight will be contested with the BMF title on the line, an honor that has not been used since Jorge Masvidal fought Nate Diaz back in 2019. With their first fight gaining “Fight of the Night” status, a repeat or even an improvement will be expected at UFC 291, with many thinking that this is possibly a “Fight of the Year” contender.

It will certainly be a fight that you do not want to miss.

Stephen Thompson vs. Michel Pereira

Despite the sport being labeled as Mixed Martial Arts (MMA for short), there are many fans who do not particularly enjoy seeing the sweeps and submissions of Jiu-Jitsu or the explosive takedowns of wrestling. Preferring instead to see standup fighting, similar to kickboxing or Muay Thai. For those fans, this fight should be the most anticipated of the entire card.

Stephen Thompson is possibly the greatest striker to have stepped foot inside the UFC octagon. He won a whole host of medals and tournaments during his kickboxing days and has delivered several devastating KOs during his time in MMA. Now at 40-years-old, he still appears to be going strong after totally outclassing and badly beating Kevin Holland into a corner stoppage in his last fight. He will be looking to do similarly on Saturday.

His opponent, Michel Pereira, is another man who prefers to stay on the feet. A giant welterweight, Pereira uses his strength and explosiveness to deliver highly unorthodox strikes with massive power. He has possibly the most entertaining style ever seen in MMA, where he utilizes several flying knees, spinning kicks, and attacks from running on the walls of the cage. When these land, they have devastating effects.

It is highly likely that this fight will be a striking affair, and it is certainly not one to miss and promises to have fireworks from start to finish. You’d better believe that there will be a finish.

Jan Blachowicz vs. Alex Pereira

This light heavyweight clash has the potential to be the most anticipated bout of the entire card. With the vacating of the belt by former champ Jamahal Hill, many fans were crying out for this contest to be turned into a title fight for the vacant title. As of yet, the UFC has refused to do so, yet if this does happen, this fight will take the number one spot.

Alex Pereira is embarking on a new quest after capturing UFC middleweight gold; he has set his sights on the Light Heavyweight division. In what will be his first test at 205 pounds, he has not been given an easy matchup. Rather than dipping his toe in the water, he has been thrown in the deep end as he will take on former champion and Polish powerhouse Jan Blachowicz.

Blachowicz has experience dealing with middleweights coming up to his division before, as he previously defeated Israel Adesanya, who previously attempted to become a double champ. Both of these fighters carry massive amounts of power and will be looking for a victory which will likely get them fighting for a vacant light heavyweight title.

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