Justin Gaethje 'surprised by myself' as he knocks Dustin Poirier out at UFC 291

Gaethje wins vacant 'BMF' title to set up potential shot at winner of Makhachev-Oliveira at UFC 294 in Abu Dhabi

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Justin Gaethje defeated Dustin Poirier by knockout on Saturday night during the main event at UFC 291 in Salt Lake City.

Gaethje (25-4-0) used a kick to put down Poirier (29-8-0) just a minute into the second round of their lightweight bout. With the victory, Gaethje avenged his 2018 loss to Poirier and picked up the UFC's vacant "BMF" title.

The American, 34, has won back-to-back UFC fights for the first time since beating Tony Ferguson in May of 2020 after a victory over Donald Cerrone in September of 2019.

Poirier lost for the second time in his last three UFC bouts.

“This chance at redemption was amazing,” Gaethje said. “It drove me to work harder to be ready.”

It was Gaethje’s 20th win by knockout or TKO and his seventh victory in his last nine fights. He also scored his first knockout win since UFC 249 in 2020.

“I was surprised by myself and how good I fought,” Gaethje said.

Former interim lightweight champion Poirier matched Gaethje blow for blow in the first round before being quickly dispatched in the second.

The decisive high kick caught Poirier by surprise because it wasn’t a move that he expected to see from Gaethje.

“I thought I had four more rounds,” Poirier said. “I didn’t know I had two more minutes.”

With the victory, Gaethje became only the second fighter to win the BMF belt after Jorge Masvidal, who presented him with the belt after the fight.

Beating Poirier opens the door for Gaethje to have a potential title bout against the winner of Islam Makhachev and Charles Oliveira, who are set to square off at UFC 294 in Abu Dhabi in October.

Gaethje’s BMF win over Poirier headlined five main card bouts.

Alex Pereira defeated Jan Blachowicz by split decision in a light heavyweight bout billed as the co-main event for his eighth win in his last nine fights.

Pereira (8-2), ranked second as a middleweight, made his debut in the light heavyweight division at UFC 291 after losing the middleweight title belt via knockout to Israel Adesanya at UFC 287 in April. Blachowicz (29-10-1) did not make the transition in weight class a smooth one for the former champion.

Derrick Lewis earned a record 14th knockout win over Marcos Rogerio de Lima just 33 seconds into the first round of the heavyweight bout. The No10 -ranked Lewis (27-11) scored an immediate takedown with a flying knee and pummeled 15th-ranked Rogerio de Lima (21-10-1) with repeated punches to score the early finish. He celebrated snapping a three-fight slide by stripping off his shorts and dancing around the Octagon.

“The win means a lot to me,” Lewis said. “I had a lot of pressure on me coming into this fight and I just wanted to prove to everyone I’m still one of the best fighters in the world.”

Bobby Green beat Tony Ferguson by submission via choke with six seconds left in the third round of the lightweight bout. Green (30-14-1) dominated the final two rounds to earn his second career submission, scoring takedowns in both rounds while raining repeated blows that left his opponent battered. He denied Ferguson (26-9) a shot at earning his first UFC victory since 2019, sending the 39-year-old fighter home with his sixth straight loss.

Kevin Holland made quick work of Michael Chisea to win the welterweight bout. Holland (25-9) beat the 12th-ranked Chisea — fighting for the first time following a two-year hiatus — by submission at 2:39 in the first round. He used his length and striking abilities to trap Chisea (18-7) in a D’arce choke, forcing a quick tap out.

UFC reported a live gate of $6.5 million, breaking the previous venue record set at UFC 278 in August 2022. A sellout crowd of 18,467 was in attendance.

Updated: July 30, 2023, 6:18 AM