Dustin Poirier worked himself into UFC lightweight title contention on Saturday night in Norfolk, Virginia, coaxing a third round submission from former 155-pound champion Anthony Pettis in the main event.
The two engaged in a back and forth battle both on the feet and on the canvas throughout the near three rounds, with both fighters having moments of ascendancy in the first couple of frames. The second round in particular was especially competitive, with both Poirier and Pettis landing an array of brutal shots. Poirier opened up a series of cuts on his opponent which prompted the referee to ask the doctor to intervene. Once the bout resumed Pettis, coated in a mask of crimson, came close to securing a triangle choke in the dying seconds of the round.
The third round began as the first two — all action. A little over a minute in Poirier secured back mount and threatened with a rear naked choke, before transitioning to the a head and arm choke. In his attempts to escape, Pettis appeared to injure his midsection and tapped to call a halt to the bout.
Afterwards, Poirier called to be paired up with the winner of the upcoming Eddie Alvarez and Justin Gaethje bout. After that? He has the UFC lightweight title on his mind.
Elsewhere on the card, Matt Brown won what is likely the final bout of his mixed martial arts career with a first round elbow strike KO of the evergreen Diego Sanchez. Brown earned a performance of the night bonus for the finish and brings to a close a UFC career which began all the way back in 2008.
Andrei Arlovski arrested a five-fight skid, winning a decision against Junior Albini while Nate Marquardt wasn’t so fortunate, losing a split decision to Brazilian fighter Cezar Ferreira.
Raphael Assuncao politely called for trilogy bout with newly crowned bantamweight champion TJ Dillashaw after knocking Matthew Lopez out in the third round of their main card bout while Clay Guida ended fellow UFC veteran Joe Lauzon’s night early, winning by TKO 67 seconds into the first round.
There was also wins on the undercard for Marlon Moraes against John Dodson, while Sage Northcutt returned to 155-pounds and made light work of Michel Quiñones to coast to a three-round decision win.