Dustin Poirier vs. Michael Chandler staff predictions | UFC 281
A fantastic lightweight scrap between Dustin Poirier and Michael Chandler is scheduled for this weekend’s UFC 281 fight card at the Madison Square Garden in New York City.
Poirier and Chandler will feature as the third fight on the PPV main card that also contains title fight bouts between Israel Adesanya and Alex Pereira, and also Carla Esparza and Zhang Weili.
Poirier returns to the cage following his submission defeat to Charles Oliveira at UFC 269 in December. Chandler managed to secure his second UFC victory in May when he defeated Tony Ferguson with a devastating front kick knockout.
Read on for the latest Dustin Poirier vs. Michael Chandler betting odds and our staff predictions and picks for this UFC 281 main card fight.
Michael Chandler is an extremely sharp and solid fundamental fighter. He is a good wrestler who depends mostly on his power shooting, strong top control, and basic powerful boxing and low kicks. He stands very low to the ground in order to push off into his bursts; he sticks to his jab, cross hooks, and uppercuts on the line and mixes in his kicks when necessary. Most of his combinations come one, two, or three punches at a time, and don’t overcomplicate his weapons when exchanging. That being said, this does get him in trouble with more sophisticated strikers, as he is often easier to read than vice versa, although his athleticism and dangerous power make it difficult to act on.
Dustin Poirier, like Chandler, does most of his work with his hands, and Poirier lays claim to being one of the best boxers in the UFC. He fights behind a Philly shell from southpaw, although he is right-handed and favors the check right hook as his power shot. Along with his boxing prowess, he has shown devastating leg kicks, particularly to the calf, unlike chandler, who winds up and kicks as he jumps forward, Poirier is better at sewing his kicks on the end of inside his boxing combinations at a closer distance. While Chandler explodes in and out linearly, Poirier has a wider range in his footwork, he will angle off with his head movement and step across switching stance to land, in particular when he steps through to a conventional stance watch for his overhand right. Compared to Chandler, Poirier’s combinations are much longer, it will be key for him to land last in exchanges, as Chandler is pulling away.
Chandler absolutely has the wrestling advantage. For him, it will be about flattening Poirier out in open mat. While Poirier is a black belt in BJJ, he doesn’t have the purest guard game, he has a better chance at using the cage to peel Chandler off and get to his feet and create moments of pause when Chandler is looking for his takedowns. Poirier, on multiple occasions, has had some success at hitting switches, attacking submissions, and reversing position on very good grapplers, which makes him difficult to establish position on. However, if Chandler can get past this stage and flatten Poirier out, there is a lesser chance he will find a way back up. Poirier does have good submission defense, although two rear naked choke losses for the belt will have left a bad taste in his mouth, Chandler still does not likely have the submission threat to finish Poirier this way. Success on the ground is more likely to look like prolonged ground and pound on Chandler’s part.
Ultimately I think that Poirier has to drag Chandler into the second round and further as the more fresh and explosive Chandler is the most dangerous he is for anyone. I think Poirier eventually gets a read on Chandler first and starts landing more volume and defends and scrambles out of wrestling scenarios as long as he maintains a close distance to the fence. Chandler can absolutely go five rounds as evident in his pre-UFC fights, but it has been some time since he has had to and Poirier has a wealth of experience digging deep and overwhelming his opponents with his gritty yet smooth boxing style over the distance.
Prediction: Dustin Poirier to win (bet now at MyBookie)
Dustin “The Diamond” Poirier will step into the octagon for the first time in 2022 following a high-profile 2021 season that included two finish victories over Conor McGregor and a submission loss to then-champion, Charles Oliveira. Poirier, now 33, has been fighting the same way, successfully, for years. He is a technically savvy boxer and stout grappler. Poirier has proven he can win fights at range behind cracking leg kicks, an intelligent jab, lethal cross, and fluid footwork. He has also proven he can win in a war where he stands in a phone booth to hit and get hit until someone drops or the round ends. If you haven’t seen his fight against Hooker, go back and watch, it is a bloody and entertaining 5-round slugfest. In either type of fight, a technical range match or an in-tight brawl, Poirier wins on the back of technique, toughness, and terrific cardio. Specifically, in primary striking matches, Poirier stands southpaw and immediately looks to land his stiff jab and snapping leg kick from the opening salvo.
His goal is to pressure his opponent backward and to create a stationary target. Poirier already tends to move more fluidly and fundamentally than his opponents, but, when his opponent’s movement is trapped or compromised, Poirier’s movement turns from a defensive aid into an offensive weapon. He is adept at striking from odd angles, landing combination in small openings, and exiting the pocket before he gets hit in return. While Poirier has one-hitter-quitter power in the right circumstance, his power tends to be more of an accumulation of damage over time. He breaks his opponents down and hurts them round after round. If the fight hits the mat, something Poirier is willing to initiate toward the end of rounds, “The Diamond” has shown a solid grappling game. Offensively, he tends to clinch more than wrestle. In the clinch, he looks to land body shots to further drain his opponent. Defensively, Poirier scrambles well and has a sneaky submission game if his opponent makes a mistake. However, outside of trying to seal a round with a late clinch or takedown, Poirier prefers a stand-up battle.
Also comfortable and confident in stand-up battles, Michael “Iron” Chandler enters the cage following a highlight reel finish of Tony Ferguson in May. Thus far, in the UFC, we’ve seen one consistency out of Chandler each time he fights: aggression. Regardless of his opponent, Chandler fights at 100mph until he gets the finish, he is finished, or he earns a fight of the year nomination. Chandler, an orthodox fighter with a wrestle-boxing style, tends to rush forward and take the center of the octagon as soon as the fight begins. He keeps a wide and low base which helps him plant and create power but it also helps him offensively and defensively wrestle. From this wide stance, Chandler can explode into a takedown or stuff takedowns from his opponent.
Whether he is striking, wrestling, or defending takedowns, Chandler does everything with explosion. He explodes into his combinations, sometimes with a disregard for defense, and looks to land a heavy overhand right that can shut the lights out in an instant. If Chandler decides to wrestle, something he has high-level experience in doing in and outside of the cage, he will often follow the momentum of his overhand right and explode into a single or double-leg takedown. Defensively is where Chandler’s wide stance and aggression can hurt him. Because of his stance, which generates power and explosion, Chandler’s mobility is limited and he carries a significant amount of weight on his lead leg, making it vulnerable to leg kicks. Against technical range fighters who are patient and fluid enough to avoid a brawl, Chandler can become a linearly moving target whose base can be chopped down. So far, in the UFC, no fighter has proven capable of avoiding the brawl Chandler wants, he tends to make the fight happen in the pocket each and every time.
This fight is very similar to Rodriguez vs. Lemos from last week. Poirier, like Rodriguez, is the more technical, intelligent, and measured fighter who still packs real power. If he can be patient, Poirier can win with range striking and movement. Meanwhile, Chandler, like Lemos, sometimes makes poor choices in the cage and can punch himself out, but has real heat behind his strikes and is dangerous as long as the fight goes. I’m siding with Chandler here. In a three-round fight, I expect both men to get at it right away, and their opposing stances should negate Poirier’s ability to hurt Chandler’s lead leg. Rather than a stick’n move kickboxing match, of which Poirier would have the decided advantage, I’m anticipating a brawl from the opening seconds. And, while both men have found success in these kinds of brawls, I like Chandler’s power and raw aggression to overwhelm Poirier.
Prediction: Chandler to win (bet now at MyBookie)
Dustin Poirier is one of the most battled tested fighters still on the UFC roster. He’s fought just about every killer you can think of, spanning the length of the featherweight and lightweight divisions, and has had success throughout his impressive fight tenure. This success justifies his ranking inside the top 15 for pound-for-pound fighters in the UFC, albeit he is ranked behind Islam Makhachev and Charles Oliveira in his own division.
Having the intro of this demonstrable ranking accompanied by stating he is one of the most battle-tested fighters gives a good, but broad, scope of who Dustin Poirier is as a fighter. After diving a bit deeper into the detail of what makes him so dangerous in the octagon, it quickly becomes apparent why he is so highly regarded. Specifically, Dustin Poirier is believed to be one of the best pure boxers in the UFC. Often, when a predominate boxer fights, I am quite skeptical as to the degree of success they can have because boxers often have a heavy lead leg, which leaves them susceptible to wearing heavy leg kicks and/or getting taken down by a single leg attempt. But for Dustin, standing out of the southpaw stance, the low calf is often an attack he does not have to significantly concern himself with defending, as the opposition often stands orthodox – the opponent can throw an inside calf kick, but this is less threatening than an outside. Moreover, if his opponent attempts to take “The Diamond” down, Dustin is more than capable of throwing his hips back and defend a shot. And, if this fails, his jiu-jitsu game off his back allows him to be a threat there and/or has the skills necessary to get back to the feet.
All in all, Dustin Poirier is an extremely well-rounded fighter who has shown time after time how much grit he has in the octagon. The biggest issue for him is that while he is just 32 years old, the tread on his fight tires is quite worn, so the potential of having a depleting chin and/or lacking elite athleticism fight-over-fight is always a question that he needs to answer, which he often does with ease.
Lacking athleticism in the octagon is not a concern whatsoever for Michael Chandler as he may very well be one of, if not, the most explosive athletes in the octagon. I want to emphasize the word “explosive” for Chandler, as he truly propels – explodes – himself at his opponent early in the fight with jaw-dropping power. This style of having unexpected explosive flurries proved effective for him against Charles Oliveria, as he was able to crack Oliveria, and when Oliveria got his back, Chandler somehow exploded himself off the mat to create a scramble and avoid a compromising position.
Being in a scramble against anyone not named Oliveria or perhaps Islam is something Chandler is more than comfortable doing, given his credentialed collegiate background of having wrestled at the University of Missouri. While the background is there, Chandler often foregoes offensive wrestling – he will use it to get out of an uncomfortable ground position – which puzzles many in the MMA community. If, however, Chandler can show a greater willingness to wrestle instead of falling in love with his elite power on the feet, then he can become one of the most feared wrestle-boxers in MMA, a combination which has proved to be championship effective for so many.
Dustin Poirier, from a technical standpoint, has the edge in this matchup. While this is the case, the explosive nature of Chandler, accompanied by jaw-dropping power, makes me favor him here. Notice, I did not say if Chandler wrestles, which he hasn’t done much of late, he will win; instead, I believe Chandler can win this fight with his striking alone. The reasoning for this is that Poirier has shown to be able to get hit cleanly of recent note, and if Chandler connects, the fight will likely end. Because of this power advantage accompanied by being the greater athlete of the two, I am picking Chandler to win in this fight, and given he is a dog, I see no value in choosing a method, albeit the likeliest outcome for him is by TKO/KO.
Bet: Chandler ML (bet now at MyBookie)
Braeden Arbour is an aspiring journalist out of Ontario, Canada. He is a recent graduate of Trent University, with a black belt in Karate and a blue belt in Judo. He has also been an avid fan of MMA for the last decade.
Michael Pounders is a high school English Teacher, a boxer himself, and is a fan who loves, gambles on, and nerds out about all things MMA.