Dustin Poirier needs to win impressively on Saturday night, according to Daniel Cormier, if he wants to move up in the rankings. “Dustin has a very good ground game, but it’s been his hands that have gotten him his recent wins,” Cormier said last night on FS1’s “UFC Tonight” when analyzing Saturday night’s UFC Fight Night main event. “If Poirier wants to move up in the ratings, he needs to win impressively.”
Dan Hardy, another analyst on UFC Tonight, said Poirier (20-4) has one type of advantage against his opponent Saturday, Michael Johnson (17-10). “He didn’t look comfortable in his last fight,” he said. “He didn’t establish a low kick game. I believe he has the speed advantage, but not the power, with his striking. He needs to establish the jab.”
Cormier said Poirier’s keys to victory is to pressure Johnson and take advantage of his better mat game. “Poirier’s got killer instincts,” he said. “His first key is he’s got to go forward and pressure Johnson. Second, he needs to win the clinch. And he’s got to land the takedown. He’s got the better submission game and needs to get it on the mat.”
Poirier agrees that he will win if it goes to the ground. “This fight’s 25 minutes, so I’m not going to put myself in a dangerous position to look for the takedown,” he said about Johnson. “If this fight hits the mat, he’s getting tapped.”
That said, Poirier doesn’t believe there’s just one key area where he has the advantage. He thinks he’s better all-around. “He’s a strong-willed fighter,” he said. “He sticks to the game plan and executes. I don’t think he’s great anywhere – I’ll outclass him everywhere.”
Hardy thinks if Johnson has a chance to win, it’s going to be attacking Poirier’s legs. “Johnson has got a lot of power in his left hand,” he said. “First, he needs to throw leg kicks and chop away at the legs. Second, he’s got to use his takedown defense and keep it standing. And finally, he needs to use his footwork, stay on his feet and stay moving.”
Below is a video of Poirier’s full interview with the FS1 Fight Night crew…
Keller’s Analysis: This matches up a fighter on a winning streak (Poirier) and a fighter on a losing streak (Johnson), but this fight could go either way. Poirier is among the most exciting fighters in UFC, and if he can adjust well to his shift up to fighting at 155 instead of 145, he could be a great addition to the Lightweight Division and eventually work his way into the title mix, especially since he’s just 27 years old. MMATorch’s latest rankings have him ranked no. 11, just below Johnson at no. 10, so whomever wins will likely move up higher in the top ten. This is main event to make sure you don’t miss because of the potential for this to be one of the most exciting fights of the month.