- When: Saturday Dec. 11, 2021 10:00pm ET (ESPN+ PPV)
- Where: T-Mobile Arena, Las Vegas, Nevada
- Line: Charles Olivera (+140) and Dustin Poirier (-160); Over 1.5 rounds (-185) and Under 1.5 rounds (+150); odds from Draftkings sportsbook.
Dustin “The Diamond” Poirier is coming off of two huge paydays and inside-the-distance wins over Conor McGregor and is the rightful number one contender to challenge for the undisputed lightweight UFC title, having battled the best fighters in the division over his storied career, including current No. 2-ranked Justin Gaethje.
Poirier averages 5.62 significant strikes landed per minute (SLpM) with a 50 percent striking accuracy, 4.19 strikes absorbed per minute (SApM) with 54 percent striking defense, 1.50 takedowns per 15 minutes with a 36 percent takedown accuracy, 61 percent takedown defense and 1.2 submissions per 15 minutes, according to UFC Stats.
Since 2018, the Diamond’s only loss was to future Hall of Famer Khabib Nurmagomedov, when he lost via round-3 submission. He has since tallied wins over Conor McGregor (Doctor stoppage Rd1 and KO Rd2, 2021), Dan Hooker (UD, 2020), Max Holloway (UD, 2019), Eddie Alvarez (TKO Rd2, 2018) and Justin Gaethje (TKO Rd4, 2018).
Charles “Do Bronx” Olivera has come a long way since his UFC debut submission over Darren Elkins in 2010, now owning the record for most submissions in the history of the organization.
Olivera is nine months younger than Poirier and sports a one-inch height advantage and two-inch reach advantage, averaging 3.26 strikes (significant) landed per minute (SLpM) with a 52 percent striking accuracy, 3.01 strikes absorbed per minute (SApM) with 53 percent striking defense, 2.64 takedowns per 15 minutes with a 44 percent takedown accuracy, 57 percent takedown defense and 2.7 submissions per 15 minutes, according to UFC Stats.
Olivera has not lost since 2018, beating Michael Chandler (TKO Rd2, 2021), Tony Ferguson (UD, 2021), Kevin Lee (sub Rd3, 2020), Jared Gordon (TKO Rd1, 2019), Nik Lentz (TKO Rd2, 2019), David Teymur (sub Rd2, 2019), Jim Miller (sub Rd1, 2018), Christos Giagos (sub Rd2, 2018) and Clay Guida (sub Rd2, 2018).
Olivera vs. Poirier Narratives
Storylines heading into this fight include the perception that Poirier is more experienced with superior striking, more durable chin and has fought and beaten better competition; and that Olivera has had a history of folding or becoming overwhelmed in the face of adversity and that this might happen after absorbing strikes from Poirier.
Olivera backers will insist he is not the same person that used to give up and that he has developed tremendously during his time in the UFC with an evolved, underrated striking arsenal that does not necessitate him taking the fight to the ground, but that if the fight does indeed hit the ground, he will dominate Poirier.
Olivera vs. Poirier Prediction
The central question to try and accurately predict the outcome of this fight is whether this fight will stay on the feet or hit the mat or if the contest happens to stay in one aspect more than the other. Narratives suggest that if the fight stays on the feet, Poirier should win fairly handily but that Olivera is live for a submission whenever the battle goes to the canvas.
This is a very challenging match-up to handicap as both fighters are extremely skilled and experienced. Based on two blockbuster fights and wins over Conor McGregor, Dustin Poirier is the higher-profile fighter who is more well known to the public, which could be inflating his market value.
In contrast, Olivera does not speak English, does not have as many notable wins as Poirier and earlier in his career has been beaten by fighters who Poirier beat, which may contribute to him being undervalued by the market.
Poirier backers will point to how Olivera was cracked by Chandler and almost finished in the first round, hypothesizing that Olivera will not be able to withstand the striking punishment that Poirier can relentlessly dish out over five rounds in predicting a TKO win for the Diamond.
But Poirier does not come out swinging recklessly or for the fences in the same way that Chandler does, employing a more grinding, technical striking approach and if Olivera can weather the initial storm at some point, this fight will touch the mat.
One of the biggest debates in MMA is who wins between the most dominant wrestler and the most dominant striker. While we may never definitively know the answer, Khabib Nurmagomedov’s career suggests that dominant wrestling can be a trump card in this fight game, as it was against Poirier when he matched up with Nurmagomedov.
Poirier has a 61 percent takedown defense and has been taken down by fighters with lesser grappling ability than Olivera, and we anticipate that Olivera will have an opportunity to get this contest to the canvas. With his length and evolved striking skills, Olivera has the opportunity to keep Poirier at range and possibly land his own punches and kicks until he finds his chance to grapple.
The betting market has undervalued Olivera in his last two fights, closing -125 to Michael Chandler and +161 to Tony Ferguson, and Do Bronx has proven it wrong, and we see more value in picking the incumbent who is longer, appears to have underrated striking and vastly superior ground game.