What was shaping up to be one of the best fights of the year ended abruptly in the third round Saturday night. Anthony Pettis tapped out as Dustin Poirier was moving into a more dominant position in the third round of the main event fight at UFC Norfolk.
Pettis appeared to injure himself somewhere in the transition. But it was unclear exactly what happened.
Poirier, for his part, thought it was the cumulative effect of the beating Pettis took.
“I think it was a broken man more than a broken rib,” Poirier said at the post-fight press conference. “But that’s my thoughts, you know. I think … hopefully nothing is wrong with the guy. But I felt like the fight was slowly slipping away from him after the cut and after the takedowns, he realized I was strong and I was gonna stay on top. He couldn’t submit me.”
Poirier won the first and second rounds on the judges’ scorecards. He opened up multiple nasty cuts on Pettis’ face in the second. There was blood everywhere. Pettis had his moments, too, giving it back to Poirier with hard shots and submission attempts. But Poirier was clearly winning the bout before Pettis tapped unexpectedly.
In the second, Pettis was bleeding so much that referee Keith Peterson halted the action so the doctor could check out the former lightweight champion’s cuts.
“When the doctor came in, I was kind of wondering why it was taking so long,” Poirier said. “And I kept seeing the doctor wipe and look at the ref and talk and then wipe his eye and his nose again.
“I thought they were gonna stop the fight, really. Because it was taking too long and he kept talking to the ref. But they let it go on. I’m happy for it.”
They did and Poirier finished the job, though perhaps not as decisively as he would have liked. Still, the Louisiana native said it “might be” the biggest win of his career. Poirier he said he relishes that kind of bloody battle.
“Those deep, dog fights — I love that,” Poirier said. “That’s why I fight. Those opportunities, those kind of scrambles, that’s why I get up in the morning and go for runs and push myself harder, because I love to fight. When it was happening, I was just happy that I was in that kind of fight. The crowd was going nuts every time we switched. It was a lot of fun, man.”