Fans expected a war, and they got one Saturday in the UFC Glendale main event, as Justin Gaethje was finally stopped by Dustin Poirier in the fourth.
Upon joining the UFC last year, former WSOF champion Justin Gaethje became an instant fan favorite. His insane, never back down, walk forward and swing style was an instant hit with fans. That led to two classics in Gaethje vs. Michael Johnson and Gaethje vs. Eddie Alvarez. The TUF 26 coach even took home Fight of the Year honors. Would UFC Glendale, with its main event of Gaethje vs. Dustin Poirier, live up to that standard?
It did. Without question. But it will raise more questions about the feasibility of Gaethje’s style.
Gaethje landed first in Glendale, with a kick followed by a combo; Poirier answered back with some heavy hands, a left and right. Gaethje assaulted the lead leg of Poirier both inside and out, then covered up when Poirier threw hands in response. Another kick by Gaethje dropped Poirier. Gaethje was showing damage by the eye, but continued to press forward. Poirier’s movement was already an issue, but he was landing far more volume even as Gaethje covered up. Poirier then unleashed a huge shot to the body. That got Gaethje’s attention. ‘The Highlight’ continued to attack the legs as the round wore on, but Dustin Poirier was pouring on blow after blow — once again, Justin Gaethje was in a firefight.
In the second, Poirier tried to keep moving, light on his feet, to avoid the kicks of Gaethje, but Justin landed one regardless early on. An eye poke then halted the action; ref Herb Dean warned Gaethje on that front. When the action restarted, Poirier landed a combo, Gaethje came back with a hook. Poirier’s jab was working, his legs weren’t, and he ate more kicks, forcing a stance change. Porier fired off blow after blow, landing his punches more often than not. Poirier would catch a kick and try for a single leg takedown, but Gaethje fought him off! He then landed a nasty elbow, and a number of follow up strikes on Poirier, finishing off the round landing a cartwheel kick.
Gaethje pumped up the crowd heading into the third. Poirier looked like a wounded animal between rounds. Each kick to Porier’s leg drew a noticable wince from the fighter. Then, Gaethje then tagged him! Piorier backed up, Gaethje walked him down, taking his time to score more significant strikes. Poirier was starting to eat more strikes, but he was still proving dangerous. Then, a fight altering moment – another eye poke from Gaethje, and ref Herb Dean opted to take a point from him. Gaethje was not happy with the call, and once again pumped up the crowd, raising his arms during the break. Back underway, it was Poirier catching Gaethje with a late eye poke.
Dustin Porier connected with a big left to open round four, and Gaethje was wobbled! Poirier swarmed, dishing out blow after blow. Gaethje stumbled, and tried to grab the leg of his opponent, but it was too late. Herb Dean waved it off, and Poirier had the win!
Afterwards, he called for a shot at the lightweight title, currently held by Khabib Nurmagomedov.
Dustin Poirier def. Justin Gaethje by TKO, Round 4, 0:33