UFC Actual or Not: Dustin Poirier’s subsequent battle will likely be towards Nate Diaz

MMA

After a uncommon off weekend on the planet of UFC, motion returns to the UFC Apex in Las Vegas on Saturday as middleweights Jared Cannonier and Kelvin Gastelum every attempt to come again from losses to Robert Whittaker of their most up-to-date bouts. Whereas it could appear to be extra urgent for Gastelum, who has misplaced 4 out of 5 — albeit towards the highest fighters within the division — in terms of elements together with age and urgency, whether or not Cannonier’s UFC journey will ever embrace a title shot might effectively hinge on profitable this battle.

Mark O. Madsen has equally lofty aspirations within the light-weight division, and he steps into Saturday’s co-main occasion — seeking to transfer his document within the UFC to 3-0 — towards 15-year UFC veteran Clay Guida. As he appears to climb the ranks in a deep 155-pound division, a win over a well-recognized face will definitely assist, however how a lot?

Dustin Poirier is already there, sitting because the No. 1 contender within the light-weight division. Poirier was there earlier than he elected to battle Conor McGregor for the third time, which seemingly set him up for a championship battle towards Charles Oliveira. However buzz is beginning to construct round one other high-profile, non-title opponent for Poirier — Nate Diaz. May Poirier as soon as once more forego a title shot?

Yair Rodriguez, however, appears supremely centered on getting himself a title shot within the featherweight division. His beforehand scheduled bout towards Max Holloway remains to be looking for a brand new date later within the yr, however after virtually two years out of the Octagon, would a win over the previous UFC featherweight champ put Rodriguez on the high of the checklist to problem the winner of Alexander Volkanovski vs. Brian Ortega?

Our panel, that includes Brett Okamoto, Jeff Wagenheim and Carlos Contreras Legaspi, is right here to separate what’s actual from what’s not in terms of the largest tales of the second within the UFC.

Dustin Poirier‘s subsequent battle will likely be towards Nate Diaz

Okamoto: Oh, man. This can be a robust one. Here is the deal. Diaz needs to battle Poirier. It is apparent. Simply take a look at his social media. He is selecting a battle.

Does he want a battle towards Poirier? Nah. Diaz has choices. He at all times does. However that is the one which pursuits him probably the most proper now.

Likewise, Poirier needs to battle Diaz. Why would not he? It is a massive battle. They had been presupposed to sq. off in 2018, however Diaz was butting heads with the UFC, Poirier was nursing a hip damage, and on the finish of the day, the battle by no means occurred. All sides blames the opposite for it falling aside. It is a battle that, on the floor, would not make a lot sense, however fan curiosity can be sky excessive by the point it occurred.

The query is, how is the UFC in making it? Poirier has a declare to being the perfect light-weight on the planet, and a battle between Poirier and light-weight champion Charles Oliveira is the obvious to make for the division. I might actually see this going both approach. It is good to see Poirier and Diaz have so many choices, however should you simply take a look at their social media exchanges, it is apparent their essential curiosity is preventing one another — which makes me lean (ever so barely) towards actual. This would be the subsequent battle for each.

Saturday’s essential occasion is extra necessary for Kelvin Gastelum than Jared Cannonier

Okamoto: You already know what? I will take the stunning reply right here and say that is not actual. Look, it’s extremely straightforward to say Saturday is a “must-win” for Gastelum. He has misplaced 4 of his previous 5. He is near falling out of the UFC’s high 10 rankings at middleweight. Cannonier, in the meantime, is coming off a loss, sure, however he is 3-1 in his previous 4. And the champion of the division, Israel Adesanya, has expressed curiosity in preventing him.

So, why would I say this battle is definitely extra necessary for Cannonier? For a number of causes. First off, age. Cannonier is 37. Gastelum is 29. If Cannonier goes to battle for a championship, and acquire on any massive cash fights, his window to take action is far smaller than Gastelum’s. And past that, regardless of Gastelum’s latest skid, he retains getting massive alternatives. He is common. Even when he had been to lose his top-10 rating, it seems like he is a type of guys who’s at all times simply two wins away from a title shot. Cannonier would not have that luxurious. If he drops to 0-2 in his previous two appearances, his model falls off much more than Gastelum’s would.

It is definitely a giant battle for each, and if Cannonier wins, he is very near getting a title shot in 2022. However by way of who has probably the most to lose — surprisingly, I believe it is Cannonier.

If he beats Max Holloway, Yair Rodriguez deserves a title shot regardless of a 2-year layoff

Legaspi: Very actual. Anybody who’s able to beating Max Holloway at this stage of his profession can compete for the belt. Rodriguez climbed the UFC’s featherweight rankings from No. 7 to No. 3 throughout his lengthy absence, which was brought on by a mixture of accidents and a six-month suspension from the U.S. Anti-Doping Company. Then his matchup with Holloway, the previous UFC featherweight champion, was pushed again due to an damage on Holloway’s facet.

Rodriguez just isn’t going to outbox Max — everybody noticed what occurred when Brian Ortega and Calvin Kattar went in that path, with the excessive quantity of punches Holloway confirmed he can join on over the course of a 5 -rounder. If Rodriguez can set up his distance and make room for his swap kicks or spinning fists and elbows, he may cause some hassle. A win over Holloway would require one thing spectacular, and fortuitously that is acquainted territory for Rodriguez, who has seven bonuses in 10 UFC fights and two of probably the most spectacular finishes within the historical past of the division, over Andre Fili and Chan Sung Jung.

Holloway is a -400 favourite and the No. 1 contender within the division, and it solely is smart that if Rodriguez can pull off the largest win of his UFC profession, he’ll immediately change into a respectable contender to Alexander Volkanovski or Brian Ortega, even with the shortage of exercise over the previous few years.

Mark O. Madsen is poised to show himself as a light-weight title contender.

Wagenheim: Madsen gained a silver medal in wrestling on the 2016 Olympics, and his specialty was Greco-Roman, the type that appears to translate finest to MMA. Randy Couture and Dan Henderson are a few Greco guys who transitioned effectively to the cage. Now comes Madsen, who’s 10-0 in MMA. Is he on the verge of one thing massive?

He is perhaps, however I critically doubt that Saturday’s battle will likely be his springboard, so for now, I will say, not actual. Madsen’s opponent is Clay Guida, an aggressive, robust veteran of 56 professional fights who’ll take a look at him. However Guida has misplaced three of his previous 5, and he is lower than 4 months away from his fortieth birthday. A win over him wouldn’t ship Madsen’s inventory hovering. A loss, however, would halt no matter momentum he has in-built his two UFC bouts.

Madsen competes in a stacked 155-pound division. It is a lengthy journey to the highest, though even at age 36, he has time to get the place he’s hoping to get. The Guida battle will likely be both a roadblock or a small step in the precise path.

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