I've never been more frustrated than watching Dustin Poirier's mind melt after the first takedown from Khabib. Dude did not fight up to his potential one bit. He still managed to make things interesting a couple of times and showed flashes of the techniques I thought would make the whole fight a lot more dangerous. He used clever footwork to step in deep and land one of the top two hardest punches Khabib has ever taken. Khabib had to back pedal from that one but Poirier was sloppy and rushed in without the poise that helped him close out a guy like Gaethje. Poirier went for the guillotine early, then tried to hit the switch and I'll say that Khabib's countering the switch and turning it into a back take once and a full mount the second time was mind boggling. But Khabib still got himself into a deep arm in guillotine and Poirier just held on too long instead of looking to use it to sweep or create space and get up. Lastly, Poirier would stall Khabib but then look to his corner for help and while he relaxed, Khabib would throw him off balance. It was just bizarre from a guy who has looked so poised and prepared before, that Khabib was able to completely break that and show Poirier's got some holes still.
I'd like Poirier vs Iaquinta next, gimme two of the best boxers in the division and let them rock out. But I'd also be curious about Charles Oliveira vs Poirier...someone who can be a boa constrictor on the ground. Gillespie is another Khabib and on the rise, so he'd be a big threat too.
But there were enough little things in this fight that it still makes me think Tony Ferguson presents a unique challenge for Khabib. Ferguson won't get lost on the ground, cuts some of the best angles into his attacks in the division and sports unique footwork that tends to keep him near the middle of the cage rather than up against it. This is beginning to feel like Ronda Rousey in that her opponents were so psyched out going into fights that they didn't play to their strengths and that would let Ronda look even more dominant than her superior grappling already made her. Khabib isn't getting away with giving up that guillotine to Tony; at best he gets swept and has a 10th planet black belt on top of him. Plus, I expect Tony to stick to his guns and not lose track of himself...Kevin Lee's blast double couldn't stop Tony from being in his grill on the feet and land a choke from being taken down. So gimme Ferguson with the upset, styles make fights and I've seen flashes of holes in Khabib's game that Tony's uniquely built to take advantage of.
Other than that...JoJo should be fighting for the title. I thought she beat Chookagian and now she took a clear dub over KGB. Islam was a disappointment but if you're winning on the feet, why take a fight where it's more dangerous? Still, off his performance I would NOT offer up Paul Felder or even Barboza the losing fighter. Put him in there with the other guy no one wants to fight Ryan Hall...that should be the punishment for guys avoiding engagement once they're ranked top 15. Plus Islam actually might have answers for Hall's long distance imanari attempts. Felder vs Barboza was so close and good that I'd take a third one. Great fight and both guys are still scary. I'd go Barboza vs Alexander Hernandez (pressure fighter with wrestling) and Felder vs Gaethje (should he beat Cerrone) would just continue to run of Gaethje dream match-ups. Blaydes did as expected with a bit more excitement to boot, he should get the winner of JDS and Volkov next for a title shot after Ngannou/Stipe.
PG - Morris/Caruso
SG - Booker/Z.Smith/Brown
SF - Culver/Thabo
PF - Saric/Justin Jackson/ Niang
C - Vonleh/Hartenstein
Reserve - Alize
IR - Gobert
Ex A. Kaba J. Obiesie, Gafford
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