Dustin Poirier expects adversity in ‘very violent’ Justin Gaethje rematch at UFC 291

Dustin Poirier knows exactly what he’s in for against Justin Gaethje at UFC 291.

Poirier (29-7 MMA, 21-6 UFC) and Gaethje (24-4 MMA, 7-4 UFC) will run things back in the July 29 headliner, which takes place at Delta Center in Salt Lake City and airs on pay-per-view following prelims on ESPN and ESPN+.

Poirier has thrived in chaos throughout his career, emerging victorious in barnburners against the likes of Gaethje, Michael Chandler, Dan Hooker, and Max Holloway. While Poirier would love a flawless performance, he anticipates having to dig deep again vs. Gaethje.

“Of course in my mind I want it to be smooth, and I want to be the matador, and I want to show that I am a better striker, and my movement and my defense is getting better over these years,” Poirier told MMA Junkie. “But at the same time, I know what this is. It’s a very violent matchup. It’s a very violent fight, and adversity will present itself again.

“I know that, but knowing that helps me make that walk, I feel. Everybody’s mental is different, but I know I’m gonna have to dig down – like I said in the previous fight, there’s gonna be a time where I’m gonna be sitting on that stool hurting, bleeding, and I’m gonna have to get up and go back out there and get to work. That’s just the mindset of this whole camp for me that I’m gonna keep going off of.”

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Poirier stopped Gaethje by fourth-round TKO in their 2018 Fight of the Year. Since then, both men have emerged as title contenders and captured interim lightweight gold.

Heading into the rematch, “The Diamond” won’t take into account their first fight.

“It’s a completely new fight,” Poirier said. “It’s a brand new fight. We’re both different, we’ve both learned, and had our wins and had our losses. It’s a different fight. If we’re the same people we were in 2018, we wasted five years. We’re both better. We’re both more dangerous.

“He’s invested in his shield, his defense is better, his footwork is better, and we’re both more mature. It’s a very high-level fight. I’m just excited to see if he’s gonna wrestle more, if he’s gonna kickbox with me again, what’s gonna happen. We got 25 minutes to do it.”

For more on the card, visit MMA Junkie’s even hub for UFC 291.