MAX HOLLOWAY V DUSTIN POIRIER
If a belt in a second weight class isn’t enough motivation for featherweight champion Holloway this weekend, then he also has the added incentive of revenge.
The Hawaiian was tapped out by Poirier in his UFC debut back in February 2012 when these fighters were promising youngsters.
Both are among the elite now. Poirier has won four of his last five fights, with a no-contest against Eddie Alvarez the only exception, and looked fantastic in his last two victories: one against Alvarez in a rematch and, prior to that, against Justin Gaethje.
‘The Diamond’ is a great boxer and was clearly much better on the ground than Holloway when they met seven years ago, but that gap will have closed somewhat during the younger fighter’s rise to become the 145lb champion.
With emphatic wins over Anthony Pettis, Jose Aldo (twice) and Brian Ortega, Holloway cleared out the featherweight division and established himself as one of the greatest ever in his weight class.
The 27-year-old is now a more versatile striker than Poirier, and his cardio is the x-factor in this bout.
Holloway piles on the pressure as the rounds go on and should be in even better condition this time around as he fights at a more natural weight.
In what should be an absolute war, it’s hard not to fancy the featherweight champ to come through Poirier’s biggest shots and secure his fifth successive stoppage win.
Holloway to win by KO/TKO/DQ
ISRAEL ADESANYA V KELVIN GASTELUM
Gastelum’s middleweight title shot fell through in February when middleweight champion Robert Whitaker was rushed to hospital, but he now gets his chance to win the interim belt.
The 27-year-old earned this opportunity with a first-round KO of Michael Bisping, followed by a decision win over Ronaldo Souza in May 2018.
That was Gastelum’s second fight since July 2017 and, while he’s a good boxer and an excellent striker, that could hurt the American against Adesanya, who’s on a real hot streak.
The Nigerian has a perfect 16-0 record with five wins in the UFC, the most recent of which was a decision win over his idol, Anderson Silva, in February.
Adesanya is one of the UFC’s most creative strikers and, after starting his career with 12 stoppage wins, he’s now added patience to his game.
He was expected to knock Silva out, but fought sensibly against the veteran, controlling the Octagon and winning comfortably on points.
Expect more of the same against Gastelum, who is a danger if the fight goes to the ground but won’t be able to deal with Adesanya’s reach and speed in the exchanges.
Adesanya to win on points
ERYK ANDERS V KHALIL ROUNTREE
This should be an exciting light-heavyweight fight between Anders – a tough, well-rounded wrestler – and the immensely powerful Rountree.
Anders won the first 10 fights of his professional career but has since lost three of his last four, the most recent being a split decision against Elias Theodorou.
Rountree is coming off a first-round KO loss to Johnny Walker in November, but beat the highly-rated Gokhan Saki by TKO before that.
The 29-year-old is a poor wrestler and tends to gas out in fights, but this should be a good match-up for him as Anders isn’t the kind of pressure fighter that gives him trouble.
Anders is very durable, but he won’t be busy enough to force Rountree on to the back foot and a knockout win for ‘The War Horse’ looks the best bet.
Rountree to win by KO/TKO/DQ