UFC 168 Prediction: Diego Brandao vs. Dustin Poirier
December 24, 2013
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Diego Brandao is an aggressive fighter whose cardio tends to fail him after about one and a half rounds. He’s the kind of fighter who looks to finish from the beginning of the fight, which is exciting but also leads to some very sloppy fighting in later rounds. Brandao may be 4-1 in the UFC so far, but against mostly weaker competition. His last three wins were against Daniel Pineda, Pablo Garza, and Joey Gambino. Now Brandao will be taking on a much tougher opponent in Dustin Poirier and I don’t love Brandao’s chances of winning.
Poirier’s biggest advantage is his superior striking. Poirier and Brandao absorb significant strikes at about the same rate (3.07/minute for Poirier, 3.10/minute for Brandao) but Poirier lands 4.06 per minute while Brandao lands just 2.36. Poirier will also have a nine-inch reach advantage, which should enable him to land strikes while staying out of Brandao’s punching range.
Brandao’s best weapon in the UFC so far has been his takedown game – he’s landed 3.38 takedowns per 15 minutes at a whopping 80 percent success rate. A lot of that success is due to his opponents lacking effective takedown defense – Pineda in particular goes down very easily. Still, those are impressive numbers for Brandao, who could succeed in taking Poirier down – Poirier has been taken down 11 times and only has a takedown defense rate of 63 percent.
Even so, I think Brandao probably needs to finish Poirier if he wants to win. Poirier’s takedown defense is respectable enough that he should be able to turn back an exhausted Brandao after the halfway point of the fight – and at that moment Poirier should easily be able to out-point Brandao. Poirier has been somewhat vulnerable to submissions in the past. He lost to Chan Sung Jung by D’Arce choke and was nearly finished by Erik Koch in his last fight.
I just don’t think Brandao’s ability to finish fights can make up for Poirier’s superior striking and endurance. I think Poirier should be able to weather an early storm and eventually win by decision here.
Pick: Dustin Poirier by decision