The UFC’s octagon lands in Norfolk, Virginia for the very first time with a mouth-watering lightweight clash headlining a card full of fun fights tonight at UFC Fight Night 120.

The headline bout sees two of the most exciting, crowd-pleasing lightweights on the roster go toe to toe, as Dustin “The Diamond” Poirier takes on former UFC world champion Anthony “Showtime” Pettis.

Poirier has moved up the ranks at 155 lbs and looks like a dangerous contender, but hasn’t yet been able to win against a top contender to propel himself into the title conversation. Indeed, his knockout loss to Michael Johnson in September last year derailed Poirier’s best run of form since moving up from featherweight.

But he’s bounced back admirably since, defeating Jim Miller by decision before his last contest with former champion Eddie Alvarez was halted and ruled a no contest after an illegal Alvarez knee prevented “The Diamond” from continuing the bout.

Pettis, meanwhile, is looking to fight his way back to his old title after a brief – and unsuccessful – tilt at the UFC interim featherweight title last year.

Now back at 155 lbs, Pettis has returned to winning form, matching Poirier’s victory over Miller to set up the clash between the pair.

Both men bring exciting fighting styles to the octagon. Poirier is all about action, pressing forward and throwing multiple shots, while Pettis is more of a sniper, looking for openings and exploding with razor-sharp striking technique. Both also possess respected submission games, too.

It adds up to a fascinating contest. Poirier’s current form may be a tad stronger, but Pettis’ skill set means he may just have a few more ways to win the fight. It’s a coin-flip contest and should deliver a thrilling clash for the fans in Virginia. It’s such a tight clash I’d steer clear of a significant investment in this one, especially when there are more clear-cut opportunities elsewhere on the card.

Expecting a fast finish in the co-main

Welterweight warrior Matt “The Immortal” Brown has been through a host of octagon wars, and we’re expecting another when he steps in with fellow veteran Diego “Nightmare” Sanchez in the night’s co-main event.

Brown suggested tonight’s fight could be his last outing before hanging up his gloves, and that will only serve as additional motivation as he takes on the evergreen, but battle-worn, Sanchez.

Brown’s relentless attack against Sanchez’s “fight fire with fire” approach should make for a crowd-pleasing clash, but one that probably won’t need the input of the judges.

Both men love to throw down, and neither man is known for taking a backwards step, so I’m expecting an all-out war from the very first striking exchange. And during those wild exchanges, it’s highly likely we’ll see a fast finish.

Under 1.5 Rounds looks tempting at +125 (Ladbrokes, Coral) and covers the possibility of underdog Sanchez landing a big shot and upsetting the form book on his return to welterweight.

‘The Pitbull’ still has his bite


© David McIntyre-USA TODAY Sports

Former UFC heavyweight champion Andrei Arlovski is undoubtedly on the downward slope of his career. The Belarussian, known as “The Pitbull,” has lost his last five contests in the UFC, and many people believe his days as an elite heavyweight are now behind him.

Tonight he faces Brazilian prospect Junior Albini, who has had just one bout inside the octagon so far – a first-round stoppage of Timothy Johnson.

But Albini’s performance didn’t blow anyone away, and Arlovski remains a dangerous striker. The difference now is he knows defeat would almost certainly spell the end of his UFC career.

Arlovski is a big underdog here and, at +550 with a host of bookmakers to win the fight via KO/TKO or DQ, that represents a huge value bet for a man with his experience and punch power.

UFC Fight Night 120 Picks

  • Poirier vs Pettis: AVOID
  • Brown vs Sanchez: Under 1.5 Rounds
  • Albini vs Arlovski: Arlovski to win via KO/TKO/DQ

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