How To Bet UFC Fight Night - Poirier vs. Johnson

Poirier and Johnson intimidating each other

Saturday, September 17, 2016 9:49 PM GMT

This weekend’s UFC Fight Night card may not have the sizzle that UFC 203 had, but there is a little steak with the two featured bouts on the card.

The main event finds Dustin Poirier seeking to continue his rampage through the lightweight division with a tantalizing showdown against Michael Johnson. We’ve got two fighters who are heading in different directions clashing in a fight that can assist in shaking out a crowded division.

Johnson was once thought to be close to eventually contending for the title with a four-fight winning streak from 2013-15. But then he dropped a somewhat controversial decision to Beneil Dariush and lost outright to Nate Diaz. Now he finds himself looking for a jumpstart back into the division’s upper echelons. The problem is that he’s facing a fighter in Poirier who seems completely rejuvenated after making the jump from featherweight to lightweight.

Long considered a future title contender, Poirier hit a few snags in the road as a featherweight. Losses to Chan Sung Jung and Cub Swanson slowed his progress. But it was a first round knockout loss to Conor McGregor that became the wake-up call that featherweight wasn’t where he needed to be. Since debuting as a lightweight last April, Poirier has looked nothing short of impressive. Three knockouts and a thoroughly dominating performance of Joseph Duffy put Poirier right in the thick of the title hunt. But he cannot afford to lose to the backsliding Johnson.

Poirier is rightfully a -160 favorite at a variety of top sportsbooks. However, his skill set should have put him closer to a -210. Johnson is a serviceable striker and an exceptional wrestler, but Poirier is better in just about every facet of the game aside from wrestling. Johnson has improved as a striker over the years but against someone who likes to put his opponents down, he’s going to have a difficult time staying upright for five rounds. If Johnson is unable to get this fight to the ground, there is very little chance of him winning.

But if Johnson does have a chance, it will be on the ground where his level changes will not allow Poirier to sink into a rhythm. However, even if the fight does get to the ground, Poirier is exceptional when the fight hits the canvas. He possesses a few slick submissions that could catch Johnson if he falls asleep at the wheel.

No matter how you slice it, Poirier just has too many weapons for Johnson. Add that to the momentum and it’s a pretty easy bet if you’re willing to absorb being a -160. You can also count on this fight not going the distance as Poirier has been out to make a statement and there may not be much Johnson can do to silence him.

As for the co-main event between Uriah Hall and Derek Brunson, oddsmakers favor Brunson at -180 across the board. And that’s for good reason. As dynamic of a striker as Hall has proven to be, he sputters offensively. He’s much like a shooting guard who is unable to create his own shot. If you leave him wide open, he’ll drain it nine times out of ten, but with a little opposition, he’s offense is stilted. Brunson doesn’t make a lot of mistakes and will look to leave Hall little room to operate. One day, Hall will realize that he’s good enough to take risks. Once he figures that out, he’ll be a dangerous middleweight. 

But, as of right now, I’d steer clear of picking the underdog at +160 for you betting pick. However, if Hall is going to win, it’s going to be by knockout. He’s simply not active enough to win a decision. But he has debilitating power if he happens to catch Brunson with a counter. See what you can find for a Hall finish but if you absolutely have to bet, go with Brunson taking a unanimous decision.

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