If you’re looking for a slugfest, then the UFC has the card for you. Hidalgo, Texas plays host to the UFC for the first time with power punchers Dustin Poirier and Michael Johnson clashing in the main event.
Both Poirier and Johnson are trying to prove they belong in the top end of the lightweight division. Poirier has looked red-hot since coming back to 155 lbs while Johnson is coming off two losses – both of which were against stiff competition.
Dustin Poirier vs Michael Johnson
Dustin Poirier seems like he has been in the UFC forever – which is understandable considering he has had 15 fights in the organization – but he is still just 27. ‘The Diamond’ has found renewed life since re-joining the lightweight division, as he is 4-0 with three first round knockouts.
Poirier is primarily a striker first, but it is some of the crispest striking around. He has a knack for knowing when to pick his spots, only throwing huge combos when he sees an opening. Not to say he isn’t aggressive, but he knows when to throw his strikes while minimizing any potential of getting countered. However, because he is so aggressive, he does leave himself open to a big shot on occasion, which is dangerous against Johnson.
Poirier also has huge power in his hands with 10 of his 20 career wins coming via KO/TKO – all of which were caused by his punches. Though he has versatility in his strikes, it is always his hands that are the fight enders.
‘The Diamond’ is athletic and pairs that with natural balance to create some above average takedown defense. When an opponent does get locked onto Poirier, he has effective chain grappling to put himself in the best position to get the fight where he wants it.
Michael Johnson has become a bit of a forgotten man in the 155 division, as he has picked up two straight decision losses. Though those losses came against Nate Diaz and Beneil Dariush, so they are not bad losses at all.
Johnson is basically a boxer in the standup game, but he has been making advances in his striking game over the years. Henri Hooft has been able to help Johnson mold his natural aggression into a striker who excels in the pocket. He is underappreciated as a technical striker, but his aggression has led to issues. Johnson has a tendency to sit in the pocket and exchange much longer than he should.
‘The Menace’ was a former junior college wrestler and he used these skills often in the early years of his career. He has used these wrestling skills less over time and has basically become a sprawl and brawler, as he using wrestling defensively to keep the fight standing.
Poirier enters the bout as a -160 favorite with Johnson coming back at +130. ‘The Diamond’ deserves to be the fave considering how good he has looked during his recent run at lightweight. There is certainly risk for Poirier with Johnson’s strong striking game, but it’s hard to overlook Poirier’s athleticism and quickness in this bout.
Rest Of The Main Card
The co-main event features Uriah Hall (+155) and Derek Brunson (-190), as both try and climb the middleweight rankings. Hall is a technical marvel on his feet with so many different strikes I couldn’t possibly list them all. However, he can be tentative in the Octagon given that he has struggled against talented grapplers. Brunson is widely regarded as a wrestler – and though his grappling skills are fantastic – his striking is catching up. He has won each of his past three fights via KO and has been getting better since joining Jackson-Wink.
Newcomer Rick Glenn (+230) makes his UFC debut against mainstay Evan Dunham (-300). Glenn takes this fight on short notice and will be fighting at lightweight for the first time in his professional career, as he has always been a featherweight. ‘The Gladiator’ was a mainstay in WSOF before winning his past two bouts in the regional scene. Dunham is an active fighter who has some diverse striking attacks that he sets up with volume. He is also a black belt in BJJ and is extremely dangerous on the ground. Dunham generally grinds out his opponents with his work rate and pace.
Talented grapplers face off when Roan Carneiro (-120) and Kenny Robertson (-110) take to the Octagon. Carneiro will be moving back to welterweight after spending his past two fights at middleweight. He is an extremely talented submission specialist – he has a third degree black belt in BJJ – but is uninspiring in other facets. Robertson is a former D-1 wrestler with some sneaky submission skills. It will be interesting to see how Carneiro will work from guard if Robertson lands the takedown.
Chris Wade (-110) and Islam Makhachev (-120) will be looking to make a statement and say they are ready for a step up in competition when they square off. Wade is a big lightweight who uses his size and collegiate wrestling abilities to control his opponent. His submission game is solid, but his striking game is still lagging behind. Makhachev is a decorated sambo practitioner who, much like Wade, is usually hunting for the takedown. He has some pop in his hands, but is still yet to find a decent rhythm in the striking game.
The main card opens with Texas born Chas Skelly (-185) taking on Maximo Blanco. (+150) Skelly is an accomplished wrestler at both a high school and collegiate level and will be looking to take this fight to the mat. He has a powerful right hand, but is easily hittable when standing. Blanco is a powerhouse, but has had struggles since he began fighting in America where certain strikes are illegal. The Venezuelan is powerful, but clearly is out of his element on the ground.
UFC Fight Night 94: Poirier vs Johnson
Odds as of September 14 at Bovada
- Dustin Poirier -160
- Michael Johnson +130
- Uriah Hall +155
- Derek Brunson -190
- Evan Dunham -300
- Rick Glenn +230
- Roan Carneiro -120
- Kenny Roberston -110
- Chris Wade -110
- Islam Makhachev -120
- Chas Skelly -185
- Maximo Blanco +150
- Gabriel Benitez +150
- Sam Sicilia -185
- Augusto Montano +270
- Belal Muhammad -360
- Antonio Carlos Junior N/A
- Leonardo Augusto Leleco N/A
- Jose Quinonez +135
- Joey Gomez -165
- Erick Montano +300
- Randy Brown -400
- Alejandro Perez -120
- Albert Morales -110