Matches to Make After UFC on Fox 30

By Brian Knapp Jul 29, 2018

Dustin Poirier finished his business with Eddie Alvarez with a cataclysmic flurry of punches, elbows and knee strikes. No one could have expected anything less.

Poirier buried the former Ultimate Fighting Championship and Bellator MMA lightweight titleholder with his blitzkrieg in the second round of their UFC on Fox 30 headliner on Saturday at the Scotiabank Saddledome in Calgary, Alberta. Alvarez went out on his shield 4:05 into Round 2, unable to keep up with a man five years his junior.

A competitive first round gave way to a wild second, touched off by a pair of attempted guillotine chokes from Poirier. Alvarez scrambled to his back, locked in a neck crank and transitioned to a seated mount at the base of the cage. A 12-to-6 elbow to the shoulder cost Alvarez his dominant position and necessitated a warning from referee Marc Goddard. After the restart, Poirier unleashed his ordnance. He followed a straight left with a thudding knee to the chest that sent Alvarez careening backward. Poirier pushed the Philadelphia native to the fence and let fly with knees, punches and kicks before a final well-placed elbow strike to the head sent his counterpart to the canvas and forced Goddard’s hand.

In the aftermath of UFC on Fox 30 “Alvarez vs. Poirier,” here are five matches that ought to be made:

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Dustin Poirier vs. Tony Ferguson: Poirier finds himself on a three-fight winning streak and in prime position to challenge for divisional supremacy. The 29-year-old American Top Team standout has finished Alvarez, Justin Gaethje and Anthony Pettis in succession, putting more and more distance between himself and his most recent setback -- a September 2016 knockout loss to Michael Johnson. For now, Poirier remains at the mercy of UFC President Dana White and his plans for a Khabib Nurmagomedov-Conor McGregor showdown. Ferguson has not competed since he submitted Kevin Lee with a third-round triangle choke in the UFC 216 headliner on Oct. 7. Also lost in the Khabib Nurmagomedov-Conor McGregor shuffle, the 34-year-old Californian has won 10 fights in a row.

Jose Aldo vs. Anthony Pettis: Consecutive defeats to reigning UFC featherweight champion Max Holloway could not keep Aldo down. The Brazilian superstar did not shy away from contact against the notoriously heavy-handed Jeremy Stephens in the co-main event and cut down the Alliance MMA mainstay with a wicked left hook to the solar plexus in the first round. Stephens tried to buy time to recover on the canvas, but the former titleholder swarmed him with punches and did enough damage to warrant a stoppage from referee Yves Lavigne. Considering his head-to-head history with Holloway and the fact that he has already beaten the majority of his contemporaries at 145 pounds, maybe Aldo should consider the long-talked-about jump to the lightweight division. It would eliminate the harsh weight cut and open new opportunities for the soon-to-be 32-year-old. Pettis last fought at UFC 226 on July 7, when he submitted Michael Chiesa with a triangle armbar.

Joanna Jedrzejczyk vs. Valentina Shevchenko-Nicco Montano winner: Jedrzejczyk rebounded from back-to-back losses to claim a unanimous decision over Tecia Torres in their three-round battle at 115 pounds. She denied Torres’ bids for takedowns, answered her clinches with knee strikes to the body and utilized a ferocious jab, leg kicks and tactical combinations at range. Already down 0-2 in her head-to-head series with current strawweight champion Rose Namajunas, perhaps the time has come for “Joanna Champion” to return to old haunts. Even though Jedrzejczyk has resisted the idea of moving back to 125 pounds, it may be her best path to a truly meaningful fight at this stage of her career. Shevchenko will challenge Montano for the women’s flyweight crown in the UFC 228 co-main event on Sept. 8 in Dallas.

Alexander Hernandez vs. Dan Hooker: On the heels of his sensational 42-second knockout of Beneil Dariush on March 3, Hernandez showed off the full range of his skills at the expense of “The Ultimate Fighter Nations” finalist Olivier Aubin-Mercier and walked away from their lightweight showcase with a unanimous decision. Scores were 30-27, 29-28 and 29-28. Hernandez has rattled off 10 consecutive victories and figures to get a chance to climb another rung on the 155-pound ladder in the not-too-distant future, perhaps before the end of the year. Hooker has been on an absolute tear since losing a decision to Jason Knight in November 2016. The 28-year-old City Kicboxing rep has rattled off four consecutive victories, all of them finishes, and last appeared at UFC 226 on July 7, when he knocked out Gilbert Burns 2:28 into the first round.

Ion Cutelaba vs. Aleksandar Rakic: Cutelaba logged his second straight first-round finish, as he put away Gadzhimurad Antigulov with a volley of punches and standing elbows along the fence in their light heavyweight feature. The Moldovan brute made Antigulov work for his takedowns and in the clinch, then allowed fatigue to do the rest. Cutelaba cut loose with knees, short punches, uppercuts, knees and elbows at close range, pinned the former Absolute Championship Berkut titleholder to the cage and poured on the punishment until the job was done. Rakic finds his star on the rise in a division hungry for new contenders. The 26-year-old American Top Team prospect obliterated Justin Ledet at UFC Fight Night 134 on July 22 in what was statistically one of the most lopsided fights in UFC history. According to final FightMetric returns, Rakic outlanded the previously unbeaten Ledet by a 263-28 margin in total strikes.

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