Dustin Poirier is set to have his second shot at undisputed lightweight gold when he takes on Charles Oliveira in the main event of UFC 269.
After what feels like an eternity, the rightful top contender in the UFC lightweight division will finally fight for the crown as 'The Diamond' squares off against 'Do Bronx' in this highly anticipated matchup.
It will be a remarkable showdown to close out the year as the man many perceive to be the uncrowned king of the lightweight division meets the most proven finisher in UFC history. Both men have been dominant of late, with the Brazilian champion boasting nine consecutive wins while the American challenger has three on the trot.
No doubt, UFC 269 is shaping up to be one of the most memorable cards of the year. In anticipation of the event, let's take a look at how the pros predicted the main event clash between lightweight juggernauts Oliveira and Poirier.
#5. Michael Chandler - Former UFC lightweight title challenger
If things had gone a little differently, Michael Chandler would've been fighting Dustin Poirier on this card instead of Charles Oliveira. Chandler came close to winning divisional gold at UFC 262 earlier this year, but was unable to finish Oliveira, who mounted a comeback in the second round.
Chandler has no doubt that Poirier will have his hand raised by the end of UFC 269. The former Bellator lightweight champion is convinced that Poirier's sheer grit and toughness will allow him to overcome the Brazilian titleholder.
In an interview with Helen Yee, Chandler said:
"I think they’re both well-rounded. [But] I think Poirier’s got a little bit more of kind of that dog in him. When the fight gets in the thick of it, obviously Charles Oliveira beat me in the second round, really soon into the second round. So we didn’t really see a lot of longevity in a fight like that. We saw him go three rounds with Tony Ferguson but that was more of a one-sided affair. I think a fight with Dustin Poirier, he puts it on [Charles Oliveira] pretty solidly those first couple of rounds. I think Poirier wins that fight by fourth- [or] third-round finish. If they do go all five, Poirier wins the decision."
Official pick: Dustin Poirier
Watch Michael Chandler preview Charles Oliveira vs. Dustin Poirier below:
#4. Dan Hardy - Former UFC welterweight title challenger
Dan Hardy is of the opinion that Dustin Poirier will come up short once again in his pursuit of undisputed lightweight gold.
'The Outlaw' believes Charles Oliveira is being underestimated by the vast majority of viewers. The fighter-turned-combat sports analyst picked the champion to retain his belt, believing Oliveira is simply the better all-around martial artist.
In an interview with Submission Radio, Hardy said:
"I just think skills-wise, [Charles] Oliveira is a better martial artist all around. Whether Dustin Poirier can apply it better because he’s been swimming in this top pool for a bit longer, I don’t know. But I’ve seen no reason to believe that Charles Oliveira won’t be champion by the end of the fight. It wouldn’t surprise me if he’s able to back Poirier up against the fence and beat him up a little bit, and then catch his neck on the way in. Something like the Kevin Lee fight. But at the same time, I wouldn’t be surprised if Oliveira decides to go offensive and take Poirier down and kind of beat him up and maul him like he did Tony Ferguson. It’s a hard fight for Poirier. He’s got heart, and he’s got heavy hands, and once he gets in the swing of things and finds his rhythm if Charles Oliveira has not been prepared for those championship rounds, then for sure Dustin Poirier can take that belt. But skill-wise, from the research I’ve done, I think Charles Oliveira has got probably a 70 or 80 percent chance of coming out on top."
Official pick: Charles Oliveira
Watch Dan Hardy's appearance on Submission Radio below:
#3. Michael Bisping - Former UFC middleweight champion
Michael Bisping believes Dustin Poirier's long journey will culminate in him winning the undisputed title. The former UFC middleweight champion alluded to Poirier's experience against high-level opposition as a huge factor going into the bout.
In a video posted to his YouTube channel, Bisping said:
"Dustin Poirier is another guy that has been in there with everyone. [He’s] been on quite a journey. He did manage to become the interim champ. He tried to solidify it, we know what happened. Khabib choked him out pretty quick. It was done pretty fast over in Abu Dhabi. Now, he gets a chance to go out there once again and fight for the undisputed title. He’s going up against Charles Oliveira and I am going to say, I favor Dustin Poirier in that fight, and more than likely I think we're going to see Dustin Poirier as the undisputed champion of the world."
Official pick: Dustin Poirier
Watch Michael Bisping preview Charles Oliveira vs. Dustin Poirier below:
#2. Henry Cejudo - Former two-division UFC champion
Henry Cejudo sees Dustin Poirier losing his upcoming title fight against Charles Oliveira at UFC 269.
The former two-division champion believes Oliveira has the potential to become the most dominant fighter at 155 lbs. 'Triple C' is of the opinion that Oliveira would "easily beat everybody" at lightweight if he was more battle-tested. Nonetheless, Cejudo is still picking 'Do Bronx' to retain his belt at UFC 269.
Speaking to Helen Yee, Cejudo said:
"I do believe Charles Oliveira is the more technical fighter. He’s got more skills, he’s got more tools in his arsenal, but Dustin [Poirier] has been through [Conor] McGregor, he has been through Justin Gaethje, he has been some of the toughest athletes in the UFC and he’s like war-proven. That’s the only thing that scares me for Charles Oliveira. Even though I’m going for Charles Oliveira because I really like Charles Oliveira, I feel like Dustin Poirier he just has that grit that I wish Charles Oliveira has."
Official pick: Charles Oliveira
Watch Henry Cejudo give his prediction for the UFC 269 main event below:
#1 Khabib Nurmagomedov - Former UFC lightweight champion
Many believe Khabib Nurmagomedov would still be the lightweight champion today if he had continued fighting. Since 'The Eagle' retired, he's been watching from the sidelines as his former rivals battle it out for the title he once held.
Having shared the octagon with Dustin Poirier, the Russian is convinced that 'The Diamond' has what it takes to emerge victorious in his bout with Oliveira.
In an interview with ESPN MMA, Nurmagomedov said:
"You cannot go to the Charles Oliveira red zone. This guy is real finisher, he's very dangerous and I think if Dustin Poirier take him to the deep ocean like he told us, I think he's going to win. But if you rush, I think Charles Oliveira going to have chance. My opinion it's 60%-40% I think, to Dustin Poirier because of his cardio and heart, it's my opinion. But Charles is very, very dangerous opponent and he knows right now he's the real champion and because he has nine-win streak. He beat Tony Ferguson, he finished eight guys. It's very interesting fight for me… I think 60-40, Dustin Poirier."
Official UFC 269 pick: Dustin Poirier
Watch Khabib Nurmagomedov's full interview below: