Dustin Poirier and Justin Gaethje battle in the UFC (Zuffa LLC)

Get ready for a spectacular clash this weekend as Dustin Poirier and Justin Gaethje face off for the second time in the highly anticipated UFC 291: Poirier vs. Gaethje 2 main event.

The much-awaited event is set to take place at the Delta Center in Salt Lake City, Utah, and we have all the predictions, analysis, and betting tips you need right here.

The main event will air live on ESPN+ PPV this Saturday, July 29 at 10 p.m. ET / 7 p.m. PT. The Prelims and Early Prelims are set to start at 8 p.m. ET / 5 p.m. PT and 6:30 p.m. ET / 3:30 p.m. PT, respectively. To watch all of the fights live this Saturday night, order the PPV on ESPN+.

Don’t forget to check out our comprehensive UFC predictions page for predictions and analysis on the rest of the card. And for exclusive fight predictions and betting tips delivered straight to your inbox, be sure to sign up for our free weekly newsletter.

How to watch: Order the UFC 291 PPV now to watch every fight live this Saturday night, including Dustin Poirier vs. Justin Gaethje.

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Betting Odds

Dustin Poirier’s the slight favorite to win the BMF title this weekend.

  • Dustin Poirier: -145 (BetUS)
  • Justin Gaethje: +115 (BetUS)

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Fight Predictions

Michael Pounders

Dustin “The Diamond” Poirier has one of the most accurate nicknames in the UFC. He is incredibly tough, specifically hard to cut- wearing damage very well. He can be flashy but in a classic way where he slips, rolls, pieces up combinations, and showboats a bit in the cage. And, no matter your fandom, is without a doubt valuable to the UFC. Poirier’s inactivity is mysterious because each time he fights, we’re reminded just how talented, tough, and terrifically skilled this lightweight is. He has some of the best pure boxing in any division of the UFC. Poirier’s hands are lightning quick, he throws with real power, and his vision and technique at range and in the pocket are worthy of teaching up-and-comers what boxing really should look like. Beyond his excellent striking, Poirier has sneaky jiu-jitsu and a strong grappling game should the fight hit the mat. He typically prefers to keep the fight standing where he can trade leather; but, if he finds himself on the canvas, Poirier has a plethora of advanced submissions to go to. Lastly, and likely the most impressive attribute he has, Poirier’s fondness for and success in brawls. No matter his opponent, no matter how clean the shot looks, and no matter the round, Poirier has the heart, toughness, and cardio to not only avoid huge damage but rarely wear it himself and often be the one to deal it out.

With, possibly, the other most accurate nickname in the UFC, Justin “The Highlight” Gaethje is less skilled, less refined, and less well-rounded than his opponent but there’s no questioning the effectiveness of his striking, his power, and his otherworldly chin. It seems that every fight Gaethje is a part of, he will put forth at least one viral highlight. Those highlights range from a devastating calf kick, for which he is notorious, to an overhand right that could knock a building over, to the ability to eat a clean and loaded up power shot as if it missed entirely. Gaethje is a fighter’s fighter because he constantly gets in the center of the cage, stands toe to toe, brawls until someone drops, which is rarely him, and then celebrates as if he won the lottery rather than absorbing serious damage. His skills aren’t the cleanest, his defense is more reliant on his chin than his movement or guard, and his calf kick to over-hand right is predictable. But, there is no questioning and no debate that Gaethje’s offensive striking is effective and lethal for anyone that stands across from him.

While the BMF belt is a step too close to WWE for me, the UFC could not have picked two better fighters for the fight. Both men are not only comfortable but truly excel in brawls. Both Poirier- against Hooker- and Gaethje- against Chandler- have possibly future Hall of Fame fights, and they were only 3 round affairs. Given that each man has excellent striking, elite chins, and the heart worthy of BMF honors, I expect this fight to be a war of all wars. In a fight like that, I try to find plus money rather than lay any kind of juice. With that in mind, I like two bets. The first is the underdog. I think this fight is designed to be razor-thin and be a blow-for-blow brawl that is favored to be fight of the year. In that fight, one that will be close and violent, I always see value on the underdog. Right now, Gaethje can be bet at +130. Even though Poirier won their last matchup, Gaethje was winning early on; so, I handicap this fight as 50/50, that puts value on Gaethje at dog money. Secondly, and my favorite bet, I like o3.5 rounds. Both men will be throwing heat and both will be looking for the finish from the opening seconds. But, both are insanely durable, and defensively aware. Although the round prop bet will be one where I hold my breath, I think this fight will go late and even to a decision. There is too much BMF’er heart and toughness between the two of them for an early finish.

Best Bets: Over 3.5 rounds (+125), Over 4.5 rounds (+160), and fight to go the distance (+200)

Joe Pounders

Poirier is no stranger to fighting for a belt – the BMF here – nor fighting a fighter as dangerous as Gaethje. Since arriving in the UFC, he holds a combined record of 29-7-1 spanning two divisions and has fought seven men who have been UFC champions, holding a record of 7-3-1 against those opponents. Since 2017, Poirier is 8-2-1, with his only two losses coming at the hands of lightweight GOAT contenders, Khabib and Charles Oliveria. 

To compete with the best, Poirier uses an impressive combination of a boxing-oriented attack with a willingness and ability to integrate more traditional MMA techniques when needed. Whether it be using a low-leg kick or mixing in a takedown, he understands that showcasing alternative attacks will open up his hands. 

As a striker, Poirier is far from a one-punch, power-puncher, even though he is perfectly willing to get hit to land his own. The interesting aspect of his game is that when he lands, he will land in combination with extreme precision. This precision enables Poirier to pepper the same spots previously hit, ultimately wearing down his opponent that leads to a finish. This fighting style has been formulated over his many years inside the octagon and is inherently indicative of his most dangerous attribute as a fighter, his fight IQ. This IQ is a critical component to possess when fighting a fighter as dangerous as Gaethje for the second time, as he will have the fight data acquired several years back to start faster than previously done, which will only aid his durability here this go-around. His intelligence parlayed with an effective, physical ground game, will be two critical components here in this bout when fighting someone as powerful as Justin Gaethje. 

Beyond having thunder in his fists, Gaethje uses a quick and snapping leg kick when at range, making him a complete striker given he can have success from distance, and if turned into an in-the-pocket fight, his elite power makes him a candidate to get the better of tight exchanges. This skill set makes him far more well-rounded in striking than his bar-like style gets credit for, and, when you add the fact he had a dominating striking performance against an elite striker in Rafael Fiziev, the conclusion is that he is likely the least favorable lightweight to stand toe-to-toe against.

Having elite striking presents the obvious need of defending against grappling attacks, particularly knowing the lightweight division is littered with dominant wrestlers. On paper, this fact would be of little concern for Justin Gaethje given his background as a 2-time high school state champion and D1 college wrestler. But, Gaethje has seemingly abandoned his wrestling credentials, albeit he did land his first takedown in his 11-fight UFC tenure. The consequence of historically doing so is obvious, given he has lost championship-caliber fights to elite grapplers, Dustin Poirier included. But, if he can fine-tune his defensive wrestling which he has the physical ability to do so, then he has all the striking necessary to win the BMF belt and fight for the lightweight championship once more.

There are no two better opponents to fight for the lackluster BMF belt than Dustin Poirier and Justin Gaethje. Both men seek absolute violence in the octagon and both possess championship-level skills. When weighing those skills against one another, I favor Gaethje slightly in the striking department, as his power is next level while Dustin does have slick, technical ability. In the grappling department, while Gaethje should be able to stuff takedowns that are shot without anything thrown in front, I do believe Poirier has the intelligence and skills necessary to take this fight to the mat, and once there, he is extremely dangerous. So, the question comes can Gaethje inflict enough damage early to slow the pace Poirier will put on or will Poirier get the fight to the mat and find a submission?

Because I trust the defensive ability on the feet of Poirier coupled with trusting the ability to scramble when an opportunity arises on the mat for Gaethje, I do believe both will succeed from a defensive stance here. Because of that, my favorite bet to make is over 2.5 rounds. And if had to select a winner, I would go with the opponent who was having early success in their last bout several years prior, and, the same fighter who has grown most since then – Justin Gaethje. 

Pick: Over 2.5 rounds (-120)

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