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Justin Gaethje reacts after his victory over Rafael Fiziev of Kazakstan in a lightweight fight during the UFC 286 event at The O2 Arena on March 18, 2023 in London, England. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)
Fight Coverage

Fight By Fight Preview | UFC 291: Poirier vs Gaethje 2

Get Ready For An Epic Action-Packed Event By Previewing Every Fight Taking Place In Salt Lake City.

The Octagon continues its “Summer Stops Tour” by touching down at Delta Center in Salt Lake City for the second consecutive year, bringing a packed pay-per-view fight card back to the home of the Utah Jazz on Saturday night.

Headlined by a lightweight rematch for the BMF title between Dustin Poirier and Justin Gaethje and boasting a host of critical matchups across seven different divisions, UFC 291 promises to be an action-packed affair that wraps with a contest that holds serious Fight of the Year possibilities.

Here’s a look at what’s on tap this weekend.

Order UFC 291: Poirier vs Gaethje

Main Event: Dustin Poirier vs. Justin Gaethje

Location: Delta Center — Salt Lake City, UT

Where to Watch: ESPN / ESPN+

Other Main Card Matches:

    • Jan Blachowicz vs. Alex Pereira
    • Tony Ferguson vs. Bobby Green
    • Michael Chiesa vs. Kevin Holland
    • Stephen Thompson vs. Michel Pereira

Prelim Matches:

    • Derrick Lewis vs. Marcos Rogerio de Lima
    • Trevin Giles vs. Gabriel Bonfim
    • Roman Kopylov vs. Claudio Ribeiro
    • Jake Matthews vs. Darrius Flowers
    • CJ Vergara vs. Vinicius Salvador
    • Matthew Semelsberger vs. Uros Medic
    • Miranda Maverick vs. Priscila Cachoeira

Main Event: Dustin Poirier vs. Justin Gaethje

UFC Breakdown | UFC 291: Poirier vs Gaethje 2
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UFC Breakdown | UFC 291: Poirier vs Gaethje 2
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You knew that Dustin Poirier and Justin Gaethje were destined to meet again after their first encounter five years ago, and this weekend, the perennial lightweight contenders will finally share the Octagon for a second time, battling over the vacant BMF title and hoping to punch their ticket to another championship opportunity next year.

This really is the perfect fight at the exact right moment for each of these fighters, as both are 6-2 since their initial meeting, with each having lost to both Khabib Nurmagomedov and Charles Oliveira in lightweight title fights. Poirier’s wins have come against Eddie Alvarez, Max Holloway, Dan Hooker, Michael Chandler, and two against Conor McGregor, while Gaethje has turned back James Vick, Edson Barboza, Donald Cerrone, Tony Ferguson, Chandler, and Rafael Fiziev.

WATCH COUNTDOWN: Full Episode | Poirier vs Gaethje 2 | Blachowicz vs Pereira

Both are 34 years old and allergic to being in boring, uneventful fights, and the first time they met in Glendale, Arizona, they tore the house down.

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Stylistically, this remains a captivating fight between two high level strikers that have no issue biting down on their mouthpieces and wading into the pocket, each man confident that they’ll land the better blows and be able to deal with whatever is coming back their way.

Seldom are sequels better than the original, but this has some real Godfather II vibes if I’m being honest. The first fight was excellent, but it feels like there is more at stake, more weight and gravitas attached to this one, and that we’re heading towards an all-time great battle this weekend.

Other Main Card Fights

Jan Blachowicz vs. Alex Pereira

Błachowicz vs Pereira Co-Main Event Preview | UFC 291
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Błachowicz vs Pereira Co-Main Event Preview | UFC 291
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Former light heavyweight champion Jan Blachowicz welcomes ex-middleweight boss Alex Pereira to the 205-pound weight class for the first time in Saturday’s co-main event.

Blachowicz returns for the first time since battling Magomed Ankalaev to a draw at UFC 282 in a clash for the light heavyweight title. The Polish veteran started well in that contest, chopping away at Ankalaev’s legs, but was unable to fully capitalize and got out-grappled down the stretch, leading to the unsatisfying result last December.

Order UFC 291: Poirier vs Gaethje 2

A move to light heavyweight always felt in the cards for the hulking Pereira, and after dropping the middleweight strap to Israel Adesanya at UFC 287, “Poatan” quickly announced he was venturing up a division. Though he’s coming off a loss, Pereira remains a physically imposing figure regardless of where he competes, and it’s going to be interesting to see if he’s even more aggressive and more dangerous now that he’s not cutting down at 185 pounds.

This was a fascinating matchup when it was first announced and became even more intriguing in the last couple weeks as champ Jamahal Hill announced he suffered a torn Achilles tendon and was going to have to relinquish the title. While the vacant strap hasn’t been added into the mix here, the winner should be at or near the top of the list of fighters that could potentially face off with Jiri Prochazka in the coming months to determine the next UFC light heavyweight champion.

Tony Ferguson vs. Bobby Green

Tony Ferguson prepares to fight Nate Diaz in a welterweight fight during the UFC 279 event at T-Mobile Arena on September 10, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)
Tony Ferguson prepares to fight Nate Diaz in a welterweight fight during the UFC 279 event at T-Mobile Arena on September 10, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)

Tony Ferguson and Bobby Green meet in a matchup of veteran lightweights with a combined 46 UFC appearances and 78 professional bouts between them.

After earning a dozen consecutive victories to establish himself as one of the best lightweight talents on the planet earlier in his career, the 39-year-old Ferguson enters Saturday’s main card assignment against Green looking to avoid his losing streak reaching a half-dozen. While there have been competitive flashes in each of his last couple outings, the results have remained unfavorable for “El Cucuy,” who last garnered a victory at UFC 238.

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Green also comes in looking to get things moving in the right direction again. After suffering consecutive losses to current champ Islam Makhachev and divisional stalwart Drew Dober, “King” thought he earned a first-round stoppage win over Jared Gordon earlier this year, but the bout was ruled a no contest after it was determined an accidental clash of heads set up the finishing sequence.

Both men have a great deal to prove in this contest, and neither has ever been shy about getting out there and getting after it, so expect fireworks right out of the chute and for as long as this one lasts.

Michael Chiesa vs. Kevin Holland

Kevin Holland prepares to face Santiago Ponzinibbio of Argentina in a welterweight fight during the UFC 287 event at Kaseya Center on April 08, 2023 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)
Kevin Holland prepares to face Santiago Ponzinibbio of Argentina in a welterweight fight during the UFC 287 event at Kaseya Center on April 08, 2023 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)

Michael Chiesa ends a nearly two-year hiatus as he returns to action in a critical welterweight pairing with Kevin Holland on Saturday’s UFC 291 main card.

The 35-year-old fighter from Spokane hasn’t competed since suffering a unanimous decision loss to Sean Brady in November 2021, and is entering on a two-fight skid. Chiesa looked sharp at the outset of his welterweight run, posting four consecutive victories to force his way into the Top 10, but consecutive losses to Vicente Luque and Brady, coupled with his injury-induced absences, makes it difficult to know where he fits in the divisional hierarchy at the moment.

RELATED: Chiesa's Top Finishes

Holland moved to welterweight in 2022, posting a 2-1 record in the division while also catching a short-notice submission loss to Khamzat Chimaev in a middleweight bout at UFC 279. He got back into the win column earlier this year with a third-round knockout win over Santiago Ponzinibbio, and now has the opportunity to catapult himself into the rankings with a win this weekend.

This is a pivotal matchup for both men, as Chiesa needs a victory to steady himself in the rankings and start building momentum, while Holland is once again faced with the kind of stern test that he’s failed in recent years as he’s looked to turn his activity and overall success into real forward progress when it comes to the rankings.

Stephen Thompson vs. Michel Pereira

Stephen Thompson is seen in the Octagon during his welterweight fight against Kevin Holland during the UFC Fight Night event at Amway Center on December 03, 2022 in Orlando, Florida. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)
Stephen Thompson is seen in the Octagon during his welterweight fight against Kevin Holland during the UFC Fight Night event at Amway Center on December 03, 2022 in Orlando, Florida. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)

The pay-per-view gets underway in the welterweight division, as Stephen Thompson faces off with Michel Pereira in what promises to be a captivating affair.

Thompson remains a fixture in the Top 10 of the welterweight division, returning to action this weekend for the first time since outworking Holland in early December. That victory snapped a two-fight skid, and despite being 40, “Wonderboy” continues to show the speed, movement, and dynamic striking that makes him a difficult test for anyone that stands across from him inside the Octagon.

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Reining in the cartwheels and flips and chaotic movements has helped Pereira put together a five-fight winning streak heading into this one. While he still breaks out creative attacks and frenetic movements from time-to-time, the Brazilian has done well to stay technical, use his fundamentals, and keep pushing forward while posting wins over Andre Fialho and Ponzinibbio in 2022 to keep his run of success intact.

Currently stationed at No. 7 and No. 15, respectively, in the welterweight division, this bout has a little bit of a “referendum on where they stand” feel for me, as Thompson is once again tasked with defending his position in the Top 10 and Pereira has the opportunity to show he’s truly amongst the division’s elite.

This should be a riveting battle between two dynamic strikers to kick off the pay-per-view on Saturday.

Prelim Fights

Derrick Lewis vs. Marcos Rogerio de Lima

Derrick Lewis prepares to fight Serghei Spivac of Moldova in a heavyweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on February 04, 2023 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)
Derrick Lewis prepares to fight Serghei Spivac of Moldova in a heavyweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on February 04, 2023 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)

Heavyweights moving in opposite directions meet to close out the prelims, as former contender Derrick Lewis faces off with ascending Brazilian Marcos Rogerio de Lima.

WATCH: Derrick Lewis' Greatest Hits | de Lima Submits Andrei Arlovski

Since closing out 2021 with a first-round knockout win over Chris Daukaus, Lewis has dropped three straight, each of them inside the distance, and the last two in the opening round. Across the cage, de Lima comes in having earned back-to-back victories and wins in four of his last five outings.

Trevin Giles vs. Gabriel Bonfim

Gabriel Bonfim of Brazil poses for a portrait after his victory during the UFC 283 event at Jeunesse Arena on January 21, 2023 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Photo by Mike Roach/Zuffa LLC)
Gabriel Bonfim of Brazil poses for a portrait after his victory during the UFC 283 event at Jeunesse Arena on January 21, 2023 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Photo by Mike Roach/Zuffa LLC)

Trevin Giles and Gabriel Bonfim square off in this meeting of aspiring welterweights in Salt Lake City.

After stumbling out of the gate in the 170-pound ranks, Giles touches down at UFC 291 having earned consecutive decision wins to push his record to 16-4 overall and 5-2 over his last seven outings across two divisions. The 25-year-old Bonfim collected an impressive first-round submission win over Mounir Lazzez in his promotional debut at UFC 283 and looks to keep his unbeaten record and 100 percent finishing rate intact here.

Roman Kopylov vs. Claudio Ribeiro

Roman Kopylov of Russia punches Punahele Soriano in a middleweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on January 14, 2023 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)
Roman Kopylov of Russia punches Punahele Soriano in a middleweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on January 14, 2023 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)

It’s a battle between middleweight finishers in this one as Roman Kopylov faces off with Claudio Ribeiro.

Something clicked for Kopylov in 2022, as the Russian veterans posted a pair of impressive stoppage wins over Alessio Di Chirico and Punahele Soriano to establish himself as an intriguing name to track in the 185-pound weight class. A member of the Dana White’s Contender Series (DWCS) Class of ’22, Ribeiro dropped his promotional debut in January, but rebounded with a dominant second-round stoppage win over Joseph Holmes in May to get back into the win column.

Jake Matthews vs. Darrius Flowers

Jake Matthews of Australia punches Andre Fialho of Portugal in a welterweight fight during the UFC 275 event at Singapore Indoor Stadium on June 12, 2022 in Singapore. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)
Jake Matthews of Australia punches Andre Fialho of Portugal in a welterweight fight during the UFC 275 event at Singapore Indoor Stadium on June 12, 2022 in Singapore. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)

Australian veteran Jake Matthews stays on the card despite a late change in opponents, welcoming DWCS alum Darrius Flowers to the Octagon for the first time this weekend.

Matthews, who was originally slated to face Miguel Baeza, continues to be “hit and miss” inside the Octagon, following up a tremendous win over Andre Fialho at UFC 275 with a unanimous decision loss to Matthew Semelsberger on the final fight card of the year. The 28-year-old Flowers slammed his way to a UFC contract last fall on the Contender Series and looks to extend his winning streak to five as he steps in to face off with Matthews here.

CJ Vergara vs. Vinicius Salvador

CJ Vergara Stops Daniel Lacerda In The Second Round | UFC Fight Night: Vera vs Sandhagen
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Unlock MORE of your inner combat sports fan with UFC Fight Pass! Fighting is what we live for. And no one brings you MORE live fights, new shows, and events across multiple combat sports from around the world. With a never-ending supply of fighting in every discipline, there’s always something new to watch. Leave it to the world’s authority in MMA to bring you the Ultimate 24/7 platform for MORE combat sports, UFC Fight Pass!

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CJ Vergara Stops Daniel Lacerda In The Second Round | UFC Fight Night: Vera vs Sandhagen
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Flyweight DWCS grads CJ Vergara and Vinicius Salvador meet in SLC, with each man looking to build some consistency as we head towards autumn inside the Octagon.

Vergara has alternated losses and wins since claiming his UFC contract, dropping fights to Ode’ Osbourne and Tatsuro Taira, while posting victories over Kleydson Rodrigues and Daniel Lacerda. Salvador out-worked Shannon Ross to garner a contract last season on the annual talent search show before dropping a decision to Victor Altamirano in his promotional debut earlier this year.

Matthew Semelsberger vs. Uros Medic

Highlight: Matthew Semelsberger Knocks Out Sano In 15 Seconds | UFC 266
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Unlock MORE of your inner combat sports fan with UFC Fight Pass! Fighting is what we live for. And no one brings you MORE live fights, new shows, and events across multiple combat sports from around the world. With a never-ending supply of fighting in every discipline, there’s always something new to watch. Leave it to the world’s authority in MMA to bring you the Ultimate 24/7 platform for MORE combat sports, UFC Fight Pass!

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Highlight: Matthew Semelsberger Knocks Out Sano In 15 Seconds | UFC 266
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It should be fireworks in this welterweight clash as power hitter Matthew Semelsberger faces off with Serbian striker Uros Medic.

Still putting together the pieces of his game, Semelsberger has gone 5-3 through his first eight UFC starts, registering a pair of rapid knockouts and consistently getting into entertaining fights. Medic steps up on short notice to replace Yohan Lainesse, ending a 14-month absence and looking to build on the success he had last time out against Omar Morales.

Miranda Maverick vs. Priscila Cachoeira

Miranda Maverick poses for a portrait after her victory during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on November 05, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Mike Roach/Zuffa LLC)
Miranda Maverick poses for a portrait after her victory during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on November 05, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Mike Roach/Zuffa LLC)

Flyweights open the show in Salt Lake City as Miranda Maverick steps in on short notice to face off with Priscila Cachoeira.

Maverick makes a quick turnaround after competing at UFC 289, replacing Joanne Wood and aiming to get back into the column after dropping a decision to Jasmine Jasudavicius last month in Vancouver.  Cachoeira has won two straight and four of her last five but hasn’t competed since last August after her opponent suffered weight cutting issues in January before she came in four pounds over the limit for her scheduled fight with Karine Silva in April.

UFC 291: Poirier vs Gaethje 2 took place live from the Delta Center in Salt Lake City, Utah on July 29, 2023. See the Final Results, Official Scorecards and Who Won Bonuses - and relive the action on UFC Fight Pass