Bathed in the blood of a vanquished opponent, Dustin Poirier did not mince words. The man knows what he wants.
Poirier submitted former Ultimate Fighting Championship lightweight titleholder Anthony Pettis with a body triangle in the third round of their UFC Fight Night 120 main event on Saturday at the Ted Constant Convocation Center in Norfolk, Virginia. Battered, bloodied and ultimately broken, Pettis tapped 2:08 into Round 3 after suffering an apparent rib injury.
The two lightweights exchanged 185 total strikes in a little more than 12 minutes, according to preliminary FightMetric data; 117 of them found their mark, including a volley of second-round Poirier elbow strikes that tore open Pettis’ face and drenched the canvas and the two combatants. Pettis resisted until the bitter end, as his body betrayed him and forced him to relent. The Roufusport star now owns a disappointing 3-5 record since he captured the lightweight crown from Benson Henderson in August 2013. Afterward, Poirier took aim at his next targets.
In the aftermath of UFC Fight Night “Poirier vs. Pettis,” here are five matches that ought to be made:
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Dustin Poirier vs. Eddie Alvarez-Justin Gaethje winner: Often a forgotten man at 155 pounds, Poirier embodies the kind of throw-caution-to-the-wind violence that thrills audiences and makes matchmaking easy. The 28-year-old Lafayette, Louisiana, native is 7-1 with one no-contest across his last nine appearances, bolstering his resume with wins over Pettis, Jim Miller, Bobby Green and Joseph Duffy. While a September 2016 knockout loss to Michael Johnson figures to haunt him for the foreseeable future, no one can deny Poirier belongs on any reputable list of lightweight title contenders. Alvarez and Gaethje are scheduled to collide at UFC 218 on Dec. 2.
Andrei Arlovski vs. Justin Ledet: Arlovski seemed to respond to his move to American Top Team, as the invigorated former heavyweight champion carved up Junior Albini and recorded a much-needed unanimous verdict in their three-round showcase. Scores were 29-28, 30-27 and 30-27, as the Belarusian snapped a career-worst five-fight winning streak. Though his days as a top-flight heavyweight are almost certainly over, Arlovski appears to have plenty of bite left, even at 38 years of age. The undefeated Ledet last competed at UFC Fight Night 116 on Sept. 16, when he eked out a split decision over Azunna Anyanwu.
Raphael Assuncao vs. Jimmie Rivera: While consistency has marked Assuncao’s tenure in the UFC, the Atlanta-based Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt decided to throw in the spectacular with his latest performance. Assuncao wiped out Matthew Lopez with a clean right hook in the third round of their bantamweight feature, authoring his first finish in more than four years. The 35-year-old has won 10 of his past 11 bouts, a decision loss to current champion T.J. Dillashaw in their July 2016 rematch the lone hiccup. Rivera finds himself in need of an opponent after Dominick Cruz withdrew from their UFC 219 showdown on Dec. 30 with a broken arm.
Marlon Moraes vs. Pedro Munhoz: Moraes cracked the win column in his second Octagon appearance, as he wound up on the right side of a wild split decision against John Dodson. All three judges scored it 30-27: Brian Costello and Chris Lee for Moraes, Ron Rodriguez for Dodson. Despite its contentious nature, the victory affords the talented Brazilian a much-needed foothold in the UFC’s bantamweight division. A former World Series of Fighting champion, Moraes has compiled a stellar 14-1 record over his last 15 bouts and should continue to draw high-profile matchups at 135 pounds. Munhoz, 31, extended his winning streak to four fights on Oct. 28, when he submitted Rob Font with a first-round guillotine choke at UFC Fight Night 119.
Tatiana Suarez vs. Felice Herrig-Cortney Casey-Sanchez winner: Suarez made up for lost time. In her first appearance since winning Season 23 of “The Ultimate Fighter” reality series on July 8, 2016, the Millennia MMA standout thoroughly dominated the previously unbeaten Viviane Pereira to a unanimous decision in their preliminary women’s strawweight encounter. An accomplished grappler and an emerging threat at 115 pounds, Suarez, now 5-0, neutralized the Brazilian with repeated takedowns, positional control and ground-and-pound. Herrig will meet Casey-Sanchez at UFC 218 on Dec. 2.