The 30-year-old Brazilian earned the biggest win of his career in the desert on two weeks' notice, forcing the former interim welterweight champ to submit with a second-round guillotine choke hold in a fight that bloodied both fighters. "I've never been anxious about winning and losing".
Poirier scored the fourth-round knockout, putting him on the precipice of a title shot, but both men were awarded for their efforts, each receiving a $50,000 bonus for being awarded the Fight of the Night honor. Dana (White), Sean (Shelby), Khabib; let's (expletive) go. "I will be known and remembered as one of the most entertaining fighters that ever did it". He even seemed to have Poirier almost defeated in the third round off a big left, but an eye poke from Gaethje that resulted in a point deduction gave Poirer time to recover.
Gaethje (18-2), from Safford, Arizona, had the crowd support and landed a series of punches in the second round after a shaky first. With a little over three minutes left, Gaethje stunned Poirier with a punch upstairs, and as the fight went to the fence, Gaethje went on the attack.
That straight left really rocked Gaethje and had him doing the "stanky leg" just stumbling around the cage.
Poirier appeared willing to fight on despite the effect it had on his vision and argued with the cageside doctor and referee to continue. "This guy has absolutely no quit, and I respect that 100 percent".
Nurmagomedov, who won the vacant title at UFC 223 earlier this month by defeating Al Iaquinta, isn't expected to fight again until August or September at the earliest. Eddie Alvarez is perhaps the only other lightweight that has a title claim, but he may need to get past Poirier first. Poirier was able to buy some time, though, and he made it back to the center of the Octagon, where he was able to score with more hard shots. The former featherweight contender feels reborn in his return to 155 pounds and has added plenty of poise and polish to his exciting style.