Poirier and Chandler promised to be one of the best fights of the year, and it certainly met, and perhaps even exceeded expectations.
The sold-out crowd at Madison Square Garden was louder than ever for this one, as both lightweights have a big reputation for being exciting, all-action fighters. After a wild war that stretched into the final round, fans were treated to an instant classic which concluded with former interim lightweight champ Poirier winning by submission.
The first round saw a brief feel-out process but quickly escalated into an all-out war.
Chandler began the fight with a wide stance, bouncing in and out of striking range as Poirier studied his movement. Chandler began to open his striking game, connecting with hard punches. Keeping Poirier guessing, Chandler changed levels to threaten a takedown. Although it was stuffed, the striking output continued, putting Poirier in trouble.
As Poirier covered up from the flurries, Chandler got the takedown he was looking for earlier. Poirier worked his way back up, but was suplexed back to the mat. They returned to the feet, and that’s when chaos ensued.
Poirier, who looked to be hurt, began putting together hard combinations to rock Chandler. An all-out slugfest followed until the end of the round, much to the delight of the fans in attendance. Both fighters returned to their corner bruised and bloodied.
In the second, Chandler brought Poirier to the mat early with a nice takedown, and began working from guard. Not resting on his back, Poirier threw up a triangle and sliced with elbows.
After scrambling, Chandler ended up on the back of Poirier, looking for a rear-naked choke. This would prove to be a moment of controversy, as Poirier would later accuse Chandler of a fish hook, putting his fingers in his mouth to pull for extra leverage.
Although Chandler couldn’t get the submission, he would continue on to land hard ground and pound until the end of the round.
With five minutes left to work, Poirier controlled the center of the cage early, pressing ahead with strikes. Chandler lifted for a huge slam, but somehow, Poirier avoided big damage and scrambled to take the back. After adjusting position, Poirier locked in a rear-naked choke submission and Chandler had no choice but to tap.