Saturday night’s headliner inside the T-Mobile Arena will offer one last major fight on the UFC’s 2021 fight calendar. Not only is Poirier (28-6) versus Oliveira (31-8) a matchup of the two best lightweights on the roster, it is a battle between a couple of the best pound-for-pound talents in the world.
It’s a fight fans have looked forward to for months, and a matchup many people have opinions on. Including the promotion’s reigning 185-pound king Adesanya (21-1). On Wednesday, the champ took to his Freestylebender YouTube channel and analyzed the bouts on the event’s pay-per-view main card, and ended the video giving his thoughts on the night’s final fight. A matchup of two fighters he has a lot of respect for, but for different reasons.
Israel Adesanya breaks down the main event of UFC 269
“I’ve always liked Oliveira. I’ve always liked his style. He’s had some really horrible fights in the past. I feel like he’s quit a few times in the past. One of them was the [Donald Cerrone] fight. Where I feel like he could have done some more. But it’s good to see someone like that almost go full circle and become a champion and now they’re where they belong, where they deserve to be,” Adesanya said.
“And then you have a guy like Dustin Poirier across the cage from you who’s a veteran, who’s a tough dude,” he continued. “Dustin’s striking, in the beginning, especially his boxing was [not too good]. But he’s improved over the years. One thing I took away from his Dan Hooker fight [last year] was recovery. The way he recovered, I was really impressed. His breathing, and then his cardio after that [difficult] second round.”
When it comes to the nitty-gritty technical aspects of the fight, Adesanya sees a lot of positives in the abilities of the Brazilian. He believes “Do Bronx” is a threat on the feet and on the ground, and advises the American to avoid a mat battle at all costs. However, when it comes to striking, he implies that Poirier has much more danger to offer in a striking duel.
“Charles on the ground is slick, so I would advise Dustin not to go to the ground with him. I don’t know what kind of [Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu] belt Dustin has or what his pedigree is. Don’t go to the ground with Charles Oliveira. I just feel like he’s too slick. Keeping it standing, Oliveira still knows how to strike. He’s no joke. Even in the Michael Chandler fight, he got rocked in the beginning, held his composure, didn’t get knockout out, [and] came back in the second round. Took his time; right hand, left hook that he used to drop Chandler was really slick,” Adesanya said.
“Oliveira is no joke as well with the striking. Of course, he’s gonna be improving but I haven’t noticed his improvements as much as I’ve noticed Dustin’s. Dustin’s improvements standing I like. He’s still a bit flat-footed, still plods forward sometimes, and over throws but it works for him. Everyone’s style’s different.
Although he did not make an official pick, suffice to say, he thinks both men have very specific areas where they can dominate, in this 2021 clash of a well-rounded grappler versus a well-round striker.
UFC 269 takes place on Saturday, Dec. 11 in Las Vegas, Nev. The event kicks off at 6:15 pm with the preliminary card on ESPN+. The main card then follows at 10 pm ET, exclusively on ESPN+ PPV for US $69.99.