In the main event of UFC Fight Night 120 in Norfolk, VA, former lightweight champ Anthony Pettis returned to take on Dustin Poirier. It was a bloody, brutal war marred only by an odd finish.
It was a battle between two fighters in their prime, and in the right weight class. The struggles of Anthony Pettis, after dropping to featherweight, were well documented, as he blew weight for an interim title fight against Max Holloway at UFC 206. Not only did Pettis miss weight for that title bout, he was finished by the Hawaiian that night as well.
Dustin Poirier, meanwhile, had found new life at lightweight following his exit from featherweight in 2015. Since that time, ‘The Diamond’ had gone 5-1 with one No Contest, against Eddie Alvarez at UFC 211.
Pettis opened the action with a side kick, and was soon circling out of the way of Poirier’s attack, as ‘The Diamond’ pressed the action. Poirier attacked the legs and looked to close distance; Pettis soon found himself on the wrong end of a takedown. Pettis would defend with a guillotine, then switch to a kimura. Poirier would stay calm, and found himself back in guard, where he could drop some bombs. Then it was Pettis with the sweep, and they were back on the feet. Pettis went for a high kick, but ate a punch that seemed to clip him. That opened up a cut by the eye, and Poirier started lighting him up by the fence. Pettis was eating big shots and covering up. He’d return fire, but was getting the worst of it. The bell saved him, but how would Pettis look in the second?
Pettis was on the offensive early in the second, but before long Poirier shot in, looking for a takedown. He’d land the double leg, dropping Pettis on his back. Working in Pettis’ guard, Poirier would have to watch for the triangle. He’d escape, and try to land ground and pound while Pettis defended. Pettis then gave up the back, bloodied and unable to see. Poirier got the body lock in, and looked for a choke. Pettis was virtually blinded by blood, but was able to reverse, spinning in guard and getting on top. Pettis started landing elbows, while Poirier answered with elbows from the bottom. Pettis would try to take the back but slip off; Poirier would try to get on top, but Pettis threatened with a triangle then an arm-bar. Slick with blood, submissions were scarce for both men. They’d get to the feet, go back down, with Pettis threatening with a triangle again. The ref, however, would then bring in the doctor. After cleaning Pettis up, they let the fight continue, putting Poirier back in Pettis’ guard.
Pettis would lock in a tight triangle, but Poirier would break free, and trap Pettis’ arm, landing some big hammer fists from the top. The bell would sound — what a round.
Round three saw another early shot from Dustin Poirier. Pettis looked for a kimura to get to his feet, but Poirier stayed top heavy. Pettis was able to stand back up, however, but they crashed back down with Poirier taking the back and locking in a body triangle. Pettis worked to control the wrists, but Poirier was able to get into mount. Then suddenly, Pettis tapped, though there was no clear submission underway. It appeared Pettis might have sustained a rib injury, ending what had been a fantastic main event a tad prematurely.
After the win, which was ruled a TKO, Dustin Poirier called for the winner of Justin Gaethje vs. Eddie Alvarez.
Dustin Poirier def. Anthony Pettis by TKO, Round 3, 2:08