UFC Fight Night 120: Poirier vs. Pettis predictions, preview

UFC Fight Night: Poirier vs. Pettis takes place Saturday, Nov. 11 at the Ted Constant Convocation Center in Norfolk, VA.The event kicks off at 6:30pm ET/3:30pm PT on UFC Fight Pass before the action moves to FS1 at 8pm ET/5pm PT.

The shockwaves from last weekend’s incredible event at Madison Square Garden may still be reverberating throughout the MMA industry, but the UFC is right back in action this weekend in Norfolk, Virginia with a sneaky-good Fight Night event featuring a nice mix of established veterans and promising upstarts.

MORE: Who tops the UFC’s November pound-for-pound rankings?

Here’s a rundown of what’s heading your way on Saturday evening with some predictions mixed in for good measure.

UFC Fight Night: Poirier vs. Pettis predictions

Dustin Poirier vs. Anthony Pettis

Stripped of any significance or stakes or anything else, this is a terrific scrap between a pair of WEC alums who can routinely be counted on to deliver entertaining fights individually and should combine to close out the night in style.

But no fight happens in a vacuum and while there are immediate championship stakes attached to this contest, this is unquestionably a pivotal battle in the lightweight division and an important matchup for both competitors.

Poirier has been fighting in the 155-pound weight class for coming up on three years now and after rattling off four impressive performances to start, he seems to have reached the same point he hit during his featherweight days where he’s facing stiff competition and the wins aren’t coming as easily.

There is no shame it that, of course, but after failing to get over the hump four or five times, “The Diamond” might be running out of chances to clear that last pesky hurdle standing between him and title contention.

Pettis hits the cage looking to build some momentum after returning to lightweight with a win over Jim Miller in July. The previous two years were pretty dicey for “Pretty Tony” as he went from being the lightweight champion and a potential superstar to someone many fans wrote off after three straight losses sent him scrambling to featherweight where the weight cut (and Max Holloway) left him beat up and needing a break.

He looked solid in beating Miller, but now the question is whether the former titleholder can return to his championship form of the past or has he reached the Junior dos Santos, Mauricio “Shogun” Rua stage of his career where he’s still a name, still in the top 15, but never going to make another real run at the top of the division?

Stylistically, this one is compelling; Poirier is ultra-aggressive, but also fairly hittable and doesn’t always take shots well, while Pettis has been tough to put away and can hit you with something sick, wicked and nasty out of nowhere to end your night in a hurry.

Recent form certainly favors Poirier, who looked strong in his own victory over Miller at the start of the year, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see the American Top Team product take a smart, tactical approach to this fight where he uses his wrestling to limit Pettis’ output and look to rough him up and grind him out on the ground and along the cage.

Prediction: Dustin Poirier

Matt Brown vs. Diego Sanchez

What was supposed to be Brown’s farewell fight has become his “I’m not sure if I’m going to retire after this one or not” assignment. Either way, the pairing with Sanchez should result in an ugly-but-fun slugfest between two veterans whose best days are well behind them.

Prediction: Matt Brown

Andrei Arlovski vs. Junior Albini

A couple years ago, when the Arlovski renaissance was rolling and he pushed his winning streak to six with a victory over Frank Mir, I said the UFC should have hustled him into a title shot against Fabricio Werdum because the two had some history and Arlovski wasn’t going to be able to keep up his smoke and mirrors act forever.

Instead, they booked him against Stipe Miocic, he got crushed and hasn’t won since. Albini is still a question mark, but he’s going to be the latest heavyweight newcomer to get a bump from beating the former champion.

Prediction: Junior Albini

Nate Marquardt vs. Cezar Ferreira

Marquardt is always capable of pulling out a knockout out of nowhere, but given that he’s 3-7 in his 10 fights since returning to the UFC, the more likely outcome for this one is the Brazilian outworking the veteran and putting him on a three-fight skid.

Prediction: Cezar Ferreira

Raphael Assuncao vs. Matthew Lopez

This is a really weird pairing to me because Assuncao is a top-5 bantamweight with a victory over current champ TJ Dillashaw and a 9-1 record in the division and coming off a win over former WSOF champ Marlon Moraes while Lopez is a 30-year-old on a tidy two-fight winning streak who has yet to show he’s capable of hanging with one of the division’s elite. Maybe he proves me wrong, but I doubt it.

Prediction: Raphael Assuncao

Joe Lauzon vs. Clay Guida

While the co-main event is kind of sad because it feels like both Brown and Sanchez have lost several steps and probably should call it quits, this battle of lightweight veterans is fun because despite being in the twilight of their respective careers, Lauzon and Guida are still competitive and fun to watch.

Prediction: Joe Lauzon

UFC Fight Night prelim predictions

John Dodson def. Marlon Moraes
Tatiana Suarez def. Viviane Pereira
Sage Northcutt def. Michel Quinones
Angela Hill def. Nina Ansaroff
Court McGee def. Sean Strickland
Marcel Fortuna def. Jake Collier
Karl Roberson def. Darren Stewart

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