Dustin Poirier and Justin Gaethje are set to face off in one of the most anticipated fights of 2023.
The lightweight duo will clash for the BMF title Jorge Masvidal recently made vacant at UFC 291 in Salt Lake City on Saturday night.
However, fan excitement surrounding their fight has nothing to do with a novelty belt and everything to do with the fact Poirier and Gaethje went to war when they first fought.
In 2018, they clashed in a memorable Fight of the Year candidate.
For the first three rounds, Poirier and ‘The Highlight’ threw down with reckless abandon before one man scored a brutal knockout win in the fourth frame.
Gaethje caused a serious amount of damage with his patented leg kicks, but he often put himself in harm’s way by wading into boxing exchanges with the only man to KO Conor McGregor in MMA.
In the third round, the fight was temporarily halted as veteran referee Herb Dean deducted a point from Gaethje for repeatedly poking his opponent in the eye.
Poirier wasn’t fazed. The Louisiana native was soon seeing clearly and he unleashed a hellish left hand when his rival backed him up against the fence in round four.
It rocked Gaethje so bad his leg turned to jelly. Bravely, he stayed on his feet but Poirier swarmed with a series of powerful punches he simply couldn’t get away from.
A moment of respite only encouraged Poirier as he watched his foe struggle to stay on his feet before following up with another combination to finally score a knockdown and force the stoppage.
Five years later, Poirier and Gaethje remain serious 155lb title contenders.
Islam Makhachev is the current king of the division, and he will defend his belt in a rematch with former champion Charles Oliveira at UFC 294 in Abu Dhabi on October 21.
The UFC 291 headliners will be hoping a good performance will put them next in line for a title shot.
Poirier and Gaethje are former interim UFC titleholders but they have both fallen short when fighting for the undisputed crown against Khabib Nurmagomedov and Oliveira.
Perhaps, it’ll be third time lucky for whomever wins this weekend.