UFC 291 Main Card Recap: Winners, Losers, Best Moments

Jul 30, 2023, 1:49 PM

UFC 291...

SALT LAKE CITY, UT - JULY 29: Justin Gaethje flips after beating Dustin Poirier during their BMF Title Lightweight fight at UFC 291 at the Delta Center July 29, 2023 at the in Salt Lake City, Utah. (Photo by Chris Gardner/Getty Images)

(Photo by Chris Gardner/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY – The UFC’s return to Salt Lake City was a massive success.

A sold-out crowd of nearly 20,000 reveled in one of the best cards in recent memory.

Michael Chiesa vs. Kevin Holland

After the prelims ended, the “Maverick” and the “Trailblazer” stepped into the octagon.

The fight was also Chiesa’s return to action. He hadn’t fought in two years and was ready to come back with a bang. Holland had other plans in mind.

RELATED: Michael Chiesa Wears John Stockton Jersey At UFC 291 Press Conference

Chiesa is known as a very solid wrestler while Holland has struggled on the ground in the past. Holland did a great job of keeping the fight standing in the opening minutes. He landed a few strong knees out the gates.

After a few failed takedown attempts by Chiesa, Holland got the Maverick to the floor and went to work. He locked in a D’arce choke and forced a submission just before the halfway point of the first round.

Tony Ferguson vs. Bobby Green

“El Cucuy” versus the “King” was one of the best fights at UFC 291.

Ferguson is one of the best lightweights in UFC history. But, at 39 years old and coming off of a five-fight losing streak, El Cucuy looked outmatched on Saturday.

The King connected on numerous significant strikes throughout the fight. In the second round, a failed takedown attempt almost proved fatal for Ferguson. Green stole the dominant position and started laying down on El Cucuy from above.

Green won all three rounds, but it didn’t need to come to a decision. With less than ten seconds left in the final round, Green made Ferguson submit with an arm-triangle choke.

Derrick Lewis vs. Marcos Rogerio De Lima

After Michel Pereira missed weight, this fight between “The Black Beast” and “Pezao” was moved into the main card.

Lewis came in to prove that his fight should have been here to begin with. The Delta Center erupted as he hit De Lima with a flying knee right out the gates.

Lewis started throwing some heavyweight punches down on “Pezao” until the fight was called after just 33 seconds.

Lewis basked in the noise and hit his signature celebration.

Jan Błachowicz vs. Alex Pereira

The co-main event was the closest fight of the night. Pereira pulled out the win, but a lot of fans believed that Błachowicz was robbed.

For what felt like the entire first round, Błachowicz was on Pereira’s back attempting to get a rear-naked choke or any other submission he could pull off.

When the fight was standing, Pereira showed off his surgical striking ability. The judges decided that he won the first and second rounds by a score of 29-28.

Błachowicz won the final round and even took Pereira down in the final minute but it was too late.

“Poatan” pulled off a split decision win in his move up to the light heavyweight class.

Dustin Poirier vs. Justin Gaethje

“The Diamond” and “The Highlight” fought for the second time in their careers and it was a memorable one.

The first round was electric. Both fighters threw haymaker after haymaker and connected on combinations that made the Utah crowd roar.

No one was ready for what came next in the second round.

After a minute of sizing up and looking for the right window, Gaethje found it. He sent a head kick and connected before Poirier could get his guard up. The kick flattened Poirier.

Gaethje went in and got one more punch off before referee Herb Dean called a stop to the fight.

With the Delta Center jumping, Gaethje climbed onto the ring and did a backflip back into the octagon in celebration. A storybook ending to an incredible night.

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Chandler Holt is a Digital Sports Producer for KSLSports.com, specializing in all things basketball and football. Follow Chandler on Twitter @ChandlerHoltKSL or on Threads @chandlerho1t.

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UFC 291 Main Card Recap: Winners, Losers, Best Moments