“I Was Really Attacking”- After Dustin Poirier Called Him “Reckless”, Justin Gaethje Gives His Secret Adjustment at UFC 291

Published 08/10/2023, 8:00 PM EDT

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Justin Gaethje and Dustin Poirier fought each other in one of the greatest lightweight bouts back in 2018. By the third round, Gaethje’s incessant leg had visibly hurt Poirier, who seemed in trouble. But, in the fourth round, the fight turned on its head as Poirier wobbled his opponent and followed until the referee stopped the bout. Fans had eagerly waited for a rematch, which they finally got at UFC 291 last week.

The bout was a brief affair, lasting only two rounds, but delivered one of the most memorable knockouts in recent UFC history. Gaethje knocked out Poirier with a head kick in the second round to win the BMF belt. ‘The Human Highlight’ explained to ESPN’s Brett Okamoto how one significant change helped him win against Poirier.

Justin Gaethje’s tactical triumph: The winning formula unveiled


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Justin Gaethje, known for his signature leg kicks, told Okamoto that he switched from throwing inside kicks, which he did in their first encounter, to exclusively throwing outside kicks in their second. “I’m extremely pleased with my performance, you know. I fought so well. It was a five round fight. My leg kicks were so effective, he couldn’t check them and he couldn’t counter off of them. You know, some people have obviously realized that last time I kicked the inside of his leg, and I didn’t kick the inside, it was like once this time,” he said.


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In the first fight, Gaethje had fallen prey to a clean counter from ‘Diamon’ in the fourth round, which wobbled him. Poirier followed up with a barrage of shots until Herb Dean stepped in to stop the bout. This switch, according to Gaethje, did not give Poirier any openings to the counter.

“I was really attacking the outside of the leg, which allows me to get off at a different angle and stay out of his counter punches from the strike. So I think that was the biggest adjustment and the most effective adjustment from the first fight,” he told Okamoto.


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Explosive showdown: Gaethje’s earth-shaking move that rattled Poirier

Their second fight at UFC 291 was a brief but exhilarating affair. Gaethje caught him with a head kick in the second round. Although Poirier could get a hand up to block the kick, but Gaethje’s foot wrapped around Poirier’s head, knocking him out. ‘The Highlight’ was thankful that ‘The Diamond’ did not get the full impact of the kick, as that might have knocked him out cold.

“He got a hand on it, Thank God, because if not, it would have definitely put him completely out. There was so much force it rocked his head, made his brain touch his skull and it was perfect,” he said.


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Justin Gaethje and Dustin Poirier’s rivalry has evolved into a saga of epic proportions. The long-awaited rematch at UFC 291 elevated the stakes, with Gaethje’s calculated adjustments leading to a thunderous head kick that left Poirier stunned. The outcome not only solidified Gaethje’s dominance, but also left fans in awe of his strategic prowess and raw power. Would you like to see Poirier and Gaethje should fight again for a third time? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.

Watch this Story: Dustin Poirier claims he is better than Justin Gaethje despite losing BMF championship at UFC-291


Written by:

Kanishk Thakur


One take at a time

Kanishk Thakur is an MMA writer at EssentiallySports. A graduate in political science from Delhi University, his love for writing and MMA made him want to be part of telling the story of the sport. His journalist mother and love for philosophy and research inculcated a staunch rationalism in him, and the need to substantiate every statement he makes with good evidence.
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Edited by:

Kratika Vajpayee