UFC 291 Fight Fallout: Justin Gaethje, Alex Pereira Close to Title Shot, What’s Next for Dustin Poirier

The new BMF Champion is closing in on a UFC Lightweight title shot.

Justin Gaethje is undoubtedly a perfect fit for the BMF belt as he aims to add his new silver trophy to his UFC gold. UFC 291 showcased Justin Gaethje’s revenge against Dustin Poirier, Alex Pereira’s successful light heavyweight debut, and much more. The Saturday night showdown in Salt Lake City unveiled numerous exciting possibilities for the future.

Gaethje vs. Poirier 2 did not replicate the nature of their 2018 encounter, but Gaethje has solidified his position for the 2023 Knockout of the Year contention. Gaethje, who anchored the Head Kick KO against his teammate Kamru Usman in the same city just 11 months ago when Leon Edwards claimed the welterweight title, wrapped up the fight against Poirier with another head kick KO, sealing the bout in an instant. Gaethje made it clear that he aims to fight for the UFC Lightweight Championship, which will be contested by Islam Makhachev and Charles Oliveira at UFC 294 in October.

Pereira is another fighter making strides towards a title shot. Salt Lake City played host to Pereira’s light heavyweight ascension, as the former middleweight champion took a decisive split decision victory against the former light heavyweight champion, Jan Blachowicz. UFC fans also witnessed an important win for Kevin Holland, who started climbing the official UFC welterweight rankings, but he hinted that he could return to middleweight.

Now, let’s take a look at the direction UFC is heading after UFC 291.

Lightweight Division

Vacant UFC Lightweight Championship – Islam Makhachev vs. Charles Oliveira Winner vs. Justin Gaethje: I have no doubt that Gaethje is deserving of a third shot at the UFC Lightweight Championship. Gaethje told ESPN Sports that he needs enough time to recover from his grueling training camp. It aligns well with the time needed to plan another fight for Makhachev and Oliveira after their rematch at UFC 294 in October. UFC Featherweight Champion Alexander Volkanovski has also called out Makhachev, but he should focus on a viable challenger in his own division, Ilia Topuria, instead. Gaethje won’t have a clear-cut opponent until he waits for the trilogy to conclude. But for now, this is the gold or bust scenario for him.

Dustin Poirier vs. Beneil Dariush or Makhachev-Oliveira Loser: Poirier vs. Dariush is the fight I’d love to see. Before his disappointing performance against Oliveira, Dariush was removed from title contention. It’s an intriguing clash of two dynamic fighters, but I’m not sure if Poirier will accept the fight. After his loss to Oliveira, Poirier told reporters at the UFC 291 post-fight press conference that he has no interest in fighting up-and-comers or potential contenders. Dariush is a highly-respected veteran, but booking him against the loser of Makhachev-Oliveira 2 might be the alternative. The first would be a fresh matchup, and the latter would set up an exciting rematch.

Light Heavyweight Division

Vacant UFC Light Heavyweight Championship – Jiří Procházka vs. Alex Pereira: This is the lone fight for the UFC Light Heavyweight title. Both dynamic, powerful strikers are fan favorites in the division. The engagement is so compelling that it could be the headline or co-main event for a European card.

Jan Błachowicz vs. Nikita Krylov: Blachowicz looked good early against Pereira but faded heavily in the second and third rounds. Nikita Krylov is a formidable finisher with three straight wins in his UFC career. Krylov is surpassing Blachowicz in the official UFC Light Heavyweight rankings, and Blachowicz needs to take a step back in competition. This could be an explosive fight-night headliner or co-main event for a European card.

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