NEW YORK Dustin Poirier and Michael Chandler put on the kind of entertaining fight that the fans have come to expect from both of them. And in doing this on the highly-anticipated main fight card for UFC 281 on Saturday night, they were able to help sort out the top 10 contenders for lightweights.
Poirier took the title. He won with an upper-back choke just 2 minutes into Round 2. The way to get there took a lot of effort. Through the majority of the bout, Poirier, who is at No. Fourth in ESPN ranking at 155lbs, it appeared as if he was going to win the fight.
The sixth-ranked Chandler had the upper hand immediately and was quickly advancing on Poirier with a constant flash of punches. Poirier was, however, uneasy. He kept his distance to avoid harm but offered nothing in return. In the end, Chandler did connect, and his two takedowns during the first round set him up to take on his opponent to the mat.
However, Poirier eventually stood up, severely injured an exhausted Chandler at the end of the round. If the round had been five mins and 10 secs longer, Chandler likely would have missed the final horn.
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Dustin Poirier was awarded a submission win in the third round against Michael Chandler at UFC 281 on Saturday. Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC
However, he was able to do it, and at the beginning of the second, even though he was breathing hard, Chandler scored a takedown and held the fight to the ground for most of the five minutes.
Poirier took on the final round in a calm manner in the knowledge that he still had more in the reservoir than Chandler when he transformed Chandler’s attempt to take down to his advantage on the canvas and was able to push towards the finish.
Fight in progress
Strawweight Championship: Carla Esparza (c) (20-6, 10-4 UFC, +270) vs Zhang Weili (22-3, 6-2 UFC, -340)
UFC 281 results
Bantamweight: Chris Gutierrez (19-3-2, 7-1-1 UFC) def. Frankie Edgar (23-11-1 18-11-1, UFC) through knockout.
Gutierrez fell on his knees and hugged Edgar, sleeping on the stool. The crowd began to sing “Frankie Edgar.”
The fight was advertised as the last fight of Edgar’s career. Gutierrez, one of the younger fight fighters, beat his opponent with a jump knee knockout at the 2:01 mark of the opening round. Edgar was preparing to make an apparent takedown, but Gutierrez’s knee was precisely timed. Edgar was unconscious upon impact and stunned the crowd at an arena not far from Edgar’s hometown in Toms River, New Jersey.
Edgar is an ex-UFC lightweight champion among the top-adored boxers in UFC history. Edgar is an inevitable future UFC Hall of Inductees.
“I love this sport, man,” Edgar declared. “I didn’t want to go out like that. This sport’s a b —-. I have my family and that’s all that matters.”
Afterward, Gutierrez talked about his coach Marc Montoya, who had been diagnosed with kidney cancer. Gutierrez explained that Montoya was admitted to the hospital up to Thursday but still traveled into New York for his fight.
“If he’s got f—ing cancer and he arrived out here and he’s fighting for us, how can I not deliver everything I have to fight for him?” Gutierrez said.
Gutierrez, 31, is unbeaten in eight straight fights. He is a New Jersey native who has had two wins in a row by devastating knockouts.
Edgar 41-year-old Edgar is set to lose three straight losses. He was an elite lightweight for a long time, with the title of one of the most diminutive fighters of the class. Then he had a stint among the best featherweights in the world before dropping down to bantamweight for his final fight. Edgar has been in more fights at the Octagon than any other fighter in the sport’s history and is tied to Nate Diaz for the most fight of the Night bonuses in UFC history (8).