Opinion: Ten Best Fights of UFC 281

Michael Chandler UFC
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - NOVEMBER 06: Michael Chandler warms up prior to his fight during the UFC 268 event at Madison Square Garden on November 06, 2021 in New York City. (Photo by Cooper Neill/Zuffa LLC)

UFC 281 is nearly upon us, with the card official as of Friday morning. With that in mind, we’ve taken some time out to judge the top ten fights of one of the biggest PPV cards of the year, rate them each out of ten, and then list the best MMA fight of each participant.

The three criteria on which these fights will be judged are action, competition, and skill level. A 10/10 ranking indicates a near perfect fight booking while a 5/10 indicates an average fight, so anything higher than that is above average on paper.

Dustin Poirier, UFC 269 ceremonial weigh-in Credit: Gabriel Gonzalez/Cageside Press
  1. Dustin Poirier vs Michael Chandler – 10/10

Poirier and Chandler could put on a Fight of the Year candidate at UFC 281 and this fight is many fans’ most anticipated fight of the winter. Both men have put on remarkably violent and entertaining showings against all of the other members of the ‘Lightweight Circle of Violence’ which also includes Eddie Alvarez, Justin Gaethje, and Charles Oliveira. However, during fight week it has seemed that Chandler has alluded to using his wrestling, saying, “I’m not here to win Fight of the Night, I’m here to get my hand raised.”

‘Iron Mike’ has not won a fight on the back of his wrestling in many years, but it is possible he takes Dustin down, as Dustin does not have the college wrestling resume of someone like Justin Gaethje, who stuffed Chandler’s takedowns when they fought a year ago. Even in that scenario though, the fight is still elite in terms of all three of action, competitiveness, and skill level. Cardio remains a question mark for Chandler while Dustin’s cardio has always been a strength of his, but power and wrestling are two great equalizers that Michael Chandler always possesses.

Poirier’s Best Fight: vs Justin Gaethje

Chandler’s Best Fight: vs Eddie Alvarez 1


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