UFC 281: Dustin Poirier submits Michael Chandler in instant classic

NEW YORK — Dustin Poirier and Michael Chandler put on a classic Saturday during UFC 281 at Madison Square Garden, surprising exactly no one who had ever seen them fight before.

The lightweight bout was fought at a breakneck pace from the opening bell and the momentum switched repeatedly.

Chandler had the advantage early, racing out and hurting Poirier with a big shot. Chandler was all over him in the opening moments, but Poirier is one of the most resilient and smart fighters in the sport.

And though he was facing a powerful, elite opponent, it was inconceivable he’d wilt. And he didn’t. Poirier landed a combination that stunned Chandler and he controlled the remainder of the first round.

Chandler had a big Round 2, though. He was gassed at the end of the first, and Poirier conceded he was shocked at how strong Chandler came out in the second.

Chandler took Poirier down and worked for much of the second for a rear naked choke. At one point, Poirier complained to referee Dan Miragliotta that Chandler stuck his hand in his mouth and pulled his head back.

When the third began, Chandler hoisted Poirier in the air and went to slam him. They went down, but Poirier slipped out between Chandler’s legs and actually got Chandler’s back. He quickly snapped on the rear naked choke that forced Chandler to tap at 2:00 of the third.

A fired up Poirier shouted to the crowd, “I have some jiu-jitsu!”

He did show that indeed, but he said the striking was a battle. Chandler was hitting him hard, he admitted.

“It’s a good thing he throws looping [punches],” Poirier said. “If he threw straight, he’d probably have gotten me out of there.”

They both showed their class in the fight, but Poirier, who is ranked first in the division, is one of those guys who seemingly finds a way to win. And in a lengthy career, he still hasn’t ever lost two in a row.

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - NOVEMBER 12: (R-L) Dustin Poirier secures a rear choke submission against Michael Chandler in a lightweight bout during the UFC 281 event at Madison Square Garden on November 12, 2022 in New York City. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)