The two kept a high pace in the opening round exchanging punches inside the pocket. Poirier dropped Oliveira with a right hand and let the champion back to his feet. Poirier finished the round strong and looked to be in control of the fight.
In the second frame, Oliveira closed the distance and delivered knees inside the clinch. He worked to take Poirier’s back but Poirier shook him off and gained top position. Oliveira quickly isolated an arm forcing Poirier to roll. In top control, Oliveira connected with big shots.
The end came early in the third round after Oliveira took Poirier’s back standing. He sunk in a rear-naked choke and Poirier was forced to tap out. It was Oliveira’s 18th UFC finish.
“I’m the world champion. I’m the man. They talk. I do. They can hit me a lot, but I’m going to walk forward,” Oliveira said after his first title defense.
Poirier made no excuses after the loss, but was surprised by Oliveira’s durability.
“I landed some good, clean shots on him. I thought I was going to get him away in the first round, but he’s the champ,” Poirier said.