UFC on Fox 30: Alvarez vs. Poirier II Pick

MMA Fight: UFC on Fox 30: Alvarez vs. Poirier II
Key Matches: Eddie Alvarez vs. Dustin Poirier II
When: Saturday, July 28, 2018
Time: 10PM EST
Where: Scotiabank Saddledome, Calgary, Canada
TV: Fox

by Loot, MMA Handicapper, Lootmeister.com

Eddie Alvarez, (+140), 29-5 (16 KOs, 7 Submissions) vs. Dustin Poirier, (-160), 23-5 (12 KOs, 6 Submissions)

Eddie Alvarez takes on Dustin Poirier in a rematch in the main event of UFC on Fox on July 28 in Calgary. It’s a top 155-pound bout, with the winner moving on to a potential championship fight. This is a high-stakes lightweight battle and hopefully it settles the controversy from their May 2017 fight, which was ruled a no-contest due to illegal knees by Alvarez. Poirier, 29, was doing a good job up until that point and is the favorite in this fight. Alvarez is a former UFC lightweight champion who at 34, is still a huge handful. Poirier, meanwhile, will be fighting in the UFC for the 21st time and is on a nice little run. A win here would put him at a high-water mark in his long UFC career. Let’s see what we can come up with in this Alvarez-Poirier II prediction piece.

Poirier has enjoyed a distinguished MMA career, but could use a little boost to get over the top. He hasn’t quite been able to make it to the top yet. He lost to Conor McGregor and has since won some nice fights in the ensuing four years, with a sudden loss to Michael Johnson his only setback in that period. In his last two outings, he has beaten Anthony Pettis and Justin Gaethje to illustrate his top contender status. And though his first fight with Alvarez was ruled a no-contest, he was in fact doing quite well up until that point, outmaneuvering Alvarez and landing clean shots. Poirier was really dialed-in, frustrating Alvarez with angles and quickness and staying a clear step ahead of his opponent. Leg kicks were damaging Alvarez and Poirier even threatened with a choke. He really had Alvarez right on the verge.

When breaking down fights at this level, it’s important to gauge where each fighter is in relation to their peak. You have two veterans of the sport, a pair of guys who have been through a lot—both good and bad. Alvarez is still a handful and those looking to pin a lot of importance on how things looked in their first fight could be overlooking Alvarez, Still, 5 years younger than Alvarez and fighting as well as he ever has, it might be fair to regard Poirier as the fresher of the two fighters. That alone isn’t going to win him this fight. Alvarez can still fight and has been allowed to take a more-relaxed approach, with just one fight since fighting Poirier in May of ’17. One should expect him to be in prime condition mentally and physically for this fight.

Alvarez was already one of the world’s top 155-pounders before he belatedly joined the UFC. He started slow in MMA’s top organization, losing his first fight and beating Gilbert Melendez and Anthony Pettis by narrow margins. Not many fancied him against UFC champ Rafael dos Anjos, but Alvarez registered a first-round TKO for the title-winning triumph. Granted, the reign didn’t last, as Alvarez was also vanquished by McGregor. Then came the truncated bout with Poirier, followed by his win over Gaethje where he looked a lot like his potent prime self.

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What we saw in the first fight could be misused by those handicapping this. On one hand, one can’t deny or discount that Gaethje was doing very well. But Alvarez wasn’t out of the fight and did land some fight-changing knees, even if Poirier was technically grounded. That’s more happenstance and shouldn’t detract from what Alvarez is capable of doing. We saw Poirier landing his best stuff in a fight where he had things going all his way. And he still couldn’t get rid of Alvarez. What happens if Alvarez sees things go his way? How will Poirier react? Will he be able to survive it? Alvarez now knows what he’s facing in no uncertain terms. His back is against the wall and time is running out for the veteran. Take that level of motivation and combine it with his nice hands, striking, wrestling, and overall toughness—you’re dealing with a dangerous man in this fight.

In other words, let’s not count out Alvarez on the basis of what happened in the second round of their first fight. It’s possible that after taking on some of the biggest names in the sport, Alvarez was a little lax mentally taking on Poirier. But even not at his best, we still saw that trademark fighting spirit. And again against Gaethje, Alvarez showed he is the last fighter to get queasy about the prospects of going to war. The loser of this main event is going to go far down the list and it’s going to be hard to rebuild in a division with a growing roster of deserving contenders.

With this being a main event bout, the fight is scheduled for five rounds. If the bout carries into the late stages of the fight, it could play a factor. In boxing for example, a championship distance is only 16% longer than a regular fight. That number jumps up to 40% in MMA and it can affect certain fighters. Then again, these fighters have stopped a lot of fighters, meaning it might not come down to a distance fight. And while it’s been a while since Alvarez has gone the 25-minute route to a win, his championship credentials in Bellator and the UFC probably have him in a better spot to manage that.

Again, it’s going to be hard for some to shake that image of their first fight. I tend to think that one should certainly acknowledge what Poirier was able to do, while also giving Alvarez some credit for being able to brave the storm, something we don’t know if Poirier can do. Alvarez was even more-dominant against Gaethje than Poirier was several months prior. It’s just something to think about heading into this matchup.

It’s not easy picturing what should be a standup battle between two finishers going the full five rounds. Again, those who feel some matchup components fall in Poirier’s favor on the basis of their first fight might not be wrong. Alvarez was in fact one step behind and on the precipice of ruin in that first encounter. But with the knowledge of who he is now fighting, combined with his durability and warrior mentality, an underdog stance on Alvarez might be the right move in this one.

Loot’s Pick to Win the Match: I’m betting on Eddie Alvarez at +140 betting odds. Bet this fight for FREE by taking advantage of a massive 100% sign-up bonus on your first deposit of $100 to $500 at GTBets!

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