If there is one thing that tickles our fancy, it’s a rivalry. There’s something about the excitement, the electricity in the air, the tension in the lead up that adds to the atmosphere of the packed crowd at the local pub. We’re counting down the days to watch it play out in front of our very eyes, at UFC 291, Sunday 30 July. 

Raise your hands, who remembers the battle between Dustin Poirier and Justin Gaethje in 2018? In case you missed it, our hands are up. Our local pub was pumping, parmas (to be clear, not parmies… looking at you Adelaide) had been consumed, and we all turned our attention to the big screen.

Five years ago one of the great rivalries of the UFC was born, right in front of our eyes. This July, we finally get to watch it live, again, at UFC 291. You might be asking yourself, what started the Poirier vs Gaethje rivalry? Stay tuned. Where have they been since their first meeting? Seriously, just wait and we’ll tell you. Where can I watch UFC 291 this weekend? Obviously the pub.

Now, if you’re done with all the questions, we’ll start at the beginning (keep your eyes peeled for a few fun facts you can drop to your mates at the pub this Sunday).

Justin Gaethje and Dustin Poirier go at it in UFC Fight Night 29 (Photo by Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images)

The Fight Night that started it all.

Five years ago, in an April headliner, Fight Night 29, many expected a decent enough battle, but no one could have predicted the brutal encounter that took place. Little known fact, at the time, a lesser known Kiwi entered the Octagon in the undercard against Marvin Vettori, for just his second UFC fight, that fighter was Israel Adesanya.

In their first meeting, with both fighters looking to crawl their way up the lightweight category, Poirier and Gaethje entered the ring ready to destroy the other. 

It was brutal from the start, Gaethje targeted the inside of Poiriers lead leg with repeated kicks and thudding power punches to the upper body, while Poirier returned fire, landing an incomprehensible 295 strikes, 289 of them deemed significant. In the fourth round, Gaethje succumbed to the blows, with Poirier taking the extraordinary victory. The pub went nuts, we went nuts, it was something unlike we’d seen in a long time.

Numerous MMA outlets ranked this bout as the clear Fight of the Year, including Tapology, MMA Mania and MMAjunkie to name a few.

It was something fighters dream of (and UFC fans enjoy the most, we can vouch for that).

Dustin Poirier lands a blow on Justin Gaethje at UFC Fight Night 29 (Photo by Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images)

Where have they been since?

Since that fateful day, both fighters have continued to make a name for themselves. Poirier was already well known in the division, having taken on Conor McGregor (for the first time) previously. 

His list of opponents includes Max Holloway, where he took the interim lightweight championship, Khabib Nurmagomedov, Dan Hooker, Charles Oliveira and McGregor another two times (both of those with huge victories, do we all remember that broken leg?).

Meanwhile, Justin Gaethje has taken a similar path, just without a trilogy battle against McGregor. Taking notable wins against James Vick, Edson Barboza, Donald Cerrone, Tony Ferguson, Michael Chandler and Rafael Fiziev. With two losses to Khabib Nurmagomedov and Charles Oliveira along the way.

Both at 34 years of age, the challenge awaits, to step up their game now to make a legitimate attempt at the top to take the belt, or savour the last couple of years in the limelight before retirement.

Dustin Poirier celebrates a win in the Octagon (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)

So what now for Gaethje and Poirier?

It’s a very well known fact, that Gaethje has been a desperate man in his requests to rewrite history against Poirier.

In this professional sport, it’s not often two fighters in the same division manage to avoid each other for five years, which has meant that Gaethje has never been able to claim his redemption.

The rivalry turned into a feud after Gaethje stated publicly that despite the loss, Poirier was in far worse pain than he was after their first fight. Not only that, he has openly rooted for Charles Oliveira when the Brazilian faced his rival. 

A win would very likely set the victor up with a potential title fight against Islam Makhachev, or at least a stepping stone to get there. So we think these two will come out firing.

Justin Gaethje celebrates a win in the Octagon (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC).

What else do you need to know about UFC 291?

It won’t only be Poirier and Gaethje, throwing down for our enjoyment on Sunday 30 July. In the light heavyweight category, Jan Blachowicz and Alex Pereira will battle it out to head to the top of the table.

Dustin Poirier and Justin Gaethje mid-battle in the Octagon at UFC Fight Night 29 (Photo by Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images)

Where can I watch UFC 291 near me? Find your closest sports bar right here.

Find out what other UFC fights are coming up here.