UFC 291 Odds, Pick & Prediction for Dustin Poirier vs. Justin Gaethje: Bet on Stoppage in Main Event (Saturday, July 29)
Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images. Pictured: UFC lightweight Justin Gaethje
Dustin Poirier vs Justin Gaethje Odds
The UFC's BMF belt is on the line in Saturday night's UFC 291 main event in Salt Lake City as lightweights Justin Gaethje and Dustin Poirier square off for the second time.
Poirier earned a fourth-round knockout in their first meeting, a back-and-forth slobber affair in Arizona in 2018.
Both have captured interim gold since the first bout – and gone 0-2 in undisputed title fights – with losses to Khabib Nurmagomedov and Charles Oliveira on their respective records.
Either fighter hopes to earn his way back into title contention with a victory on Saturday, with neither having faced Islam Makhachev, who is scheduled to fight Oliveira for the second time at UFC 294 in October.
Below, I'll provide my analysis and projections for Saturday's UFC 291 main event (ESPN+ PPV, with main-event walkouts at approximately 11:55 p.m. ET) and utilize those factors to bet on the Dustin Poirier and Justin Gaethje rematch.
Tale of the Tape
|Avg. Fight Time||10:06||10:06|
|Weight (pounds)||155 lbs.||156 lbs.|
|Date of birth||1/19/1989||11/14/1988|
|Sig Strikes Per Min||5.51||7.38|
|SS Absorbed Per Min||4.25||7.66|
|Take Down Avg||1.39||0.13|
The story of the first fight was about Gaethje's brutalizing leg kicks against Poirer's crisper boxing.
Poirier has a two-inch reach advantage, both the faster and more technical hands, and he was able to out-strike Gaethje in the pocket (142-56 advantage on head strikes; 314 to 143 on attempts).
Gaethje used his powerful kicks to hammer Poirier from the outside (50 to 11 on leg kicks landed; 57 to 11 on attempts) and limit his movement. And he was seemingly close to finishing the fight with those leg kicks before getting knocked out.
Poirier's offensive kicking game has improved since the first fight. He turned the tide in the second Conor McGregor fight with calf kicks.
But Gaethje's boxing has also leveled up in the interim. His recent performance against Rafael Fiziev (81-38 on head strikes) might have been the best his hands have ever looked.
Still, Gaethje and Poirier have been through several wars since their first matchup, and the durability for both lightweights is seemingly waning.
Gaethje was wobbled by Michael Chandler and hurt multiple times by strikes from Oliveira, who also made relatively quick work of Poirier, who was also wobbled and nearly finished in his fights against Chandler and Dan Hooker.
Both fighters used to walk through damage, but they each seem to get wobbled about once per fight now. And given the expected pace of this matchup, I anticipate a variety of potential finishing sequences on Saturday.
Their defensive striking stats (54% for Poirier, 53% for Gaetje) are relatively similar; Poirier throws more volume, but Gaethje lands at a higher percentage (50% to 60%), primarily due to his leg kicks (which are significantly more accurate than head strikes).
I don't expect to see much – if any – grappling in this fight. Gaethje is a good counter-wrestler and denied all five takedown attempts from Poirier in the first matchup.
I would expect Poirier to potentially look for level changes again – because he could have a substantial grappling edge if the fight does hit the mat, which partially justifies his favoritism. Still, Gaetje's takedown defense (75%) has proven more than sufficient against non-Dagestani wrestlers.
An extended striking fight should be very competitive, and I expect to see a similar dance between Dustin's boxing and Justin's kicking game.
Ultimately, like many of the fights on this Salt Like City card, this fight should swing to whichever fighter has better cardio down the stretch, fighting at 4,000 feet of elevation.
At sea level, I might give Poirier the advantage. But Gaethje lives and trains at elevation in Colorado, and thin air in Utah may give him the cardio advantage in this rematch.
Poirier vs Gaethje Pick
I projected Dustin Poirier as a 58.2% favorite (-139 implied odds) in this fight, and I don't see value on either side of the moneyline.
Typically, I would need -128 or better to back the favorite Poirier or +151 to back the underdog Gaethje, compared to my projected odds.
I project this bout to end by way of finish 75% of the time (-300 implied odds), and I do see value concerning the under or fight-to-end inside the distance prop, which you can bet up to -270 at a 2% edge compared to my number.
While this fight might start with an early feeling-out process, I expect the pace to eventually go nuclear and for both lightweights to find opportunities to hurt and finish an opponent less durable than their first matchup five years ago.
You can bet that prop straight or include it in a parlay (up to -285).
In the winning method market, Poirier by KO/TKO (projected +186, listed +210) stands out as a potential value bet. However, I wouldn't recommend including that prop on anything beyond a round-robin ticket.
Bet the fight to end inside the distance instead.
The Pick: Poirier vs. Gaethje ends inside the distance (-225 at DraftKings)