With so many great fights on UFC 211 there’s pretty much no choice but to start the break downs a bit earlier than I normally do. First order of business is one of the more underrated fights on the card pitting former lightweight champion Eddie Alvarez against the hard hitting Dustin Poirier. It’s certainly a tough match up for both men. In one regard, it puts Eddie Alvarez in a bit of a lose lose situation. He either beats a fighter he’s expected to or gets a second loss in the row. That’s not to suggest that Dustin Poirier is a slouch or an easy win, but after being crushed by Conor McGregor, you’d expect Eddie Alvarez to fight a higher ranked opponent. But in the present day UFC you have to take what you can get.
As far as game plans go, Eddie Alvarez has all the tools needed to beat a dangerous striker like Poirier. This will be the former champ’s third southpaw opponent in a row and that just makes game planning for Poirier easier. When Alvarez bested Rafael dos Anjos, the inside low kick was a major tool as well as the right hand. He’ll want to execute a similar game plan against Poirier as the Louisiana native has a tendency to stand heavy on his front leg, much in the same manner as Eddie Alvarez himself.
Attacking that front right leg of Poirier early and often, as well as following up with a right hand will do two very important things. It will get Poirier looking for these two big strikes and it will also take his mind off of Alvarez’s considerable wrestling game. Bouncing in and out, landing the inside low kick, darting in with a right hand and initiating the clinch would be a great starting point for Alvarez. But he’ll need to transition to a double or single leg, perhaps even an inside trip before Poirier looks to start opening up with a barrage of different punches.
Dustin Poirier has gotten back on track with a hard fought win over veteran Jim Miller at UFC 208. After suffering a disappointing loss at the hands of Michael Johnson, Poirier had to go back to the drawing board and reevaluate his striking attack. While still got into brawls with Jim Miller at times, he did show some decent head movement and counter strikes. What he’ll want to do in this fight against Eddie Alvarez is focus on moving laterally rather than standing square in front of the former champ. Standing in front of Alvarez at middle distance is exactly what got Rafael dos Anjos in trouble and Poirier will want to avoid doing the same.
The key for Poirier besides lateral movement is using his jab to draw Alvarez forward. Poirier has a tendency to slug a bit and he’ll want to avoid that here unless he has Alvarez hurt. A darting in and out jab will force Alvarez to either counter back with a left hook or right cross, shoot for a takedown, or back off. All scenarios can work in Poirier’s favor. If he Alavarez looks to counter with strikes then Poirier can slip them and return fire with his own counter, can land an uppercut or knee in case of a shot, or pressure the former champ against the cage if he backs away where he can potentially corner him.
It’s a bit of a pick ‘em fight, but it’s sure to be pretty damn interesting while it lasts. Who do you got: Eddie Alvarez or Dustin Poirier?
Jonathan Salmon is a writer, martial arts instructor, and geek culture enthusiast. Check out his Twitter and Facebook to keep up with his antics.
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