Six years on from their first meeting, Dustin Poirier aims to survive longer than the 1:46 he managed to the last time he faced the Crumlin King.
UFC 257: Poirier vs McGregor 2 Predictions & Results
Conor is back in action for his yearly fight, bois! Bringing with him the PPV tag that fans have become accustomed to, it is hard to begrudge the circus he brings to pre-fight build-up and the action inside the octagon. Strangely enough, this fight isn’t for the Lightweight belt as Khabib still hasn’t vacated (despite technically being ‘retired’ since the Gaethje defence). Dana has been giving it the big’un across interviews this week that Khabib will be fighting again, while the Dagestani remains steadfast that his leave from the sport is permanent. Regardless, if Conor is to win, make no mistake, McGregor’s feet will not touch the heavily advertised canvas unless some form of championship gold is on the line.
After lasting less than two minutes against the Irishman last time out, Poirier’s entire game has developed leaps and bounds. Having changed his defensive system, settled into a comfortable guard, and strengthened his grappling chops, The Diamond is the current cream of the crop at Lightweight. After last week’s striking showcase from Max Holloway, it would be wise to remember that Poirier overpowered and systematically dismantled the Hawaiian less than 18 months ago. Seeking to quiet the demons from the past, Poirier will be desperate to bury his former adversary.
It has been a wild build-up to this weekend’s card. No, not in terms of McGregor antics – there have been no hand truck throwing rampages. Instead, undefeated power-punching prospect, Ottman Azaitar, ended his professional MMA career in the biggest league. After snipping his wrist band to smuggle in extra people onto fight island, violating several COVID-19 health and safety protocols, White was more than happy to cut the German. Although its a shame to see the back of a fighter with such heavy fists, his stupidity threatened the event (probably the cause of Dana’s anger) as well as the health of all on the island.
Dustin Poirier (26-6) vs Conor McGregor (22-4)
10lbs of weight makes a helluva difference. Killing himself to make Featherweight, Poirier has been a fighter reborn since moving up to Lightweight. At Lightweight, Poirier’s durability reared as a red flag in almost every fight, yet it was only the power of McGregor who could capitalise. During their first fight, Poirier’s defence was almost non-existent. Granted, McGregor’s speed and accuracy is elite, but the Louisianan fought cluelessly off of the back-foot. Nowadays, Poirier employs a tricky guard that extends his lead elbow as a barrier in front of his face. While it leaves his body open (an area that McGregor will be more than happy to pepper), it saves his chin from most significant shots. Moreover, while a staple of the past, Poirier’s offensive boxing has excelled in recent years too. Frequent double jabs to set distances and create opportunities for himself, keeping his feet underneath him at all times to ensure rapid counters, and more than happy to unload everything to find the finish – Dustin has the goods.
One major issue with Poirier, that many seem to miss, is his leisurely footwork. Especially noticeable during the early rounds against fresh opposition (i.e. Dan Hooker), Poirier lumbers around the octagon. While he can land hard combinations at any point in the round, his lack of urgency to dominate range leaves him vulnerable to receiving volume from opponents. Additionally, Poirier’s submission game, while solid, is not of a level that will instil fear in Conor during the early rounds. Perhaps when McGregor’s gas tank starts to falter after the third, Poirier’s ground game can start to impose itself, but during the opening proceedings, McGregor showed during the Khabib match that he is more than capable of defending himself off the back for long periods.
The most difficult part of predicting a McGregor match these days is guessing what version of the Irishman will be rocking up. Going off of the pre-fight media, McGregor seems to have dedicated himself to the craft this camp and accepted the size of the challenge before him. McGregor’s power at Lightweight is as potent as at Featherweight. While he can’t be the same weight bully in the heavier weight class, his ridiculous reach provides him with an advantage that few enjoy. Cerrone warm-up fight aside, this bout represents McGregor’s first fight in a long time that he doesn’t have to worry about a potent takedown game. As such, we could be setting up to see a return of the Irishman’s wicked kicking game that was pivotal in his success during the early years.
Predicted Result: McGregor TKO Round 2
If this fight goes past the third, Poirier can really start to apply heavy pressure as his solid top game could be applied on a flailing McGregor. While the Diamond’s guard has developed since their first fight, McGregor’s ape-like reach and immense power is a clear counter. Sneaking around Poirier’s outstretched elbow high-guard, McGregor can target the chin safely during the opening proceedings and cause serious damage.
Result: Poirier def. McGregor // KO (punches) Round 2 2:32
Winner ❌ // Method ❌ // Round ✔️
Dan Hooker (20-9) vs Michael Chandler (21-5)
Like the seasons, MMA fan’s opinions on Hooker regularly change. At times, Hooker is praised as a blockbuster Lightweight striker, while for the rest, Hooker is a loudmouth without the ‘next level’ to secure a championship. The reality is somewhere in the middle. Hooker is the best first-round fighter in the division, throwing everything but the kitchen sink at opponents. His gangly arms snipe opponents in the centre of the octagon as well as bullying opponents at close quarters with brutal knees and elbows. As the rounds drag on, Hooker’s gas tank dramatically drops and is open to punishment. It is lucky, then, that the Kiwi is blessed with a God-like chin. You could drop a sledgehammer on the damn thing and Hooker would still remain standing.
Hooker’s willingness to fire off knees will have to be cooled for this bout, unless he wants a quick nap on the canvas early. Former Bellator champion and promotional new boy, Michael Chandler, is a blue-chip wrestler with heavy hands. Jumping straight into a tough match-up, Hooker’s 79% TDD is impressive – especially when you consider the opponents (Gilbert Burns, Jim Miller). Regardless, Chandler is the first elite wrestler that Hooker will face. Moreover, Chandler is the superior athlete to Hooker (natty or not) and will be able to capitalise on Hooker’s sloppy tendencies outside of the first round.
Often with great wrestlers, they end up with a string of knockouts despite their key work stemming from their wrestling. While Chandler clearly carries power in his hands, his threat on the ground forces opponents to change their gameplan to protect themselves from touching the canvas. Hooker is a notoriously ballsy fighter, however, and has grown with every fight in the organisation.
Predicted Result: Hooker TKO Round 1
Based on Hooker’s past performances, his best work regularly appears during the first round. ‘Fresh’ Dan Hooker is a mythical fighter who pushes an almighty pace. It takes a strong calibre of fighter not to crumble, and while Chandler is an elite wrestler, his lack of experience outside a handful of top opponents will be his undoing. At a clear striking disadvantage and owning a crackable chin, Chandler’s wrestling won’t have the chance to shine once he is punished early.
Result: Chandler def. Hooker // TKO (punches) Round 1 2:30
Winner ❌ // Method ✔️ // Round ✔️
Women’s Flyweight (125)
Jessica Eye (15-8) vs Joanne Calderwood (14-5)
At the start of Eye’s UFC career, the Ohioan went 1-5-1 across three years in one of the worst runs in recent memory. Since 2016, Eye has improved slightly with a 4-3 record. Nevertheless, it is baffling then, that such a woeful fighter is regularly handed prime spots on cards (even headlining with Cynthia Calvillo back in mid-2020). Eye’s jab can be crisp, and she has a desire to land in the pocket, but her lack of freak athleticism or nuanced boxing means fans are often left short-changed watching her fight. Decision win or decision loss, that is the only result that really occurs in the life of Miss Eye. Of course, that is barring the Shevchenko highlight reel head kick – perhaps the only fighter at Women’s Flyweight that is elite.
Calderwood may also lack quality, but at least her action in the octagon is far easier on the eye. Based around her Muay Thai background, Calderwood pours heavy pressure on opponents, yet her simple boxing defence often leaves her in tight affairs. Losing regularly to grapplers who aren’t afraid to take a punch, Calderwood will be able to strike for decent periods against Eye. Having last blown her title shot by accepting a last-minute fight and losing to Jennifer Maia, Calderwood will no doubt be motivated to right the wrongs.
Predicted Result: Calderwood Decision
You are only as good as your last fight, or so they say. Eye looked horrendous against Cynthia Calvillo – unable to get any form of consistent offence going on the feet, and porous to any pressure on the ground. Calderwood, on the other hand, has always been a flawed fighter. Calderwood’s refusal to stop throwing until the final bell, however, has led to late stoppages. While Eye’s chin isn’t in question, her lack of volume is, and Calderwood should sneak it on the cards.
Result: Calderwood def. Eye // Decision (unanimous – 29-28, 30-27, 30-27)
Winner ✔️ // Method ✔️ // Round ✔️
Andrew Sanchez (12-5) vs Makhmud Muradov (24-6)
It is difficult to say where Andrew Sanchez can go, but he is a fun fighter to watch. After a torried couple of years of being stopped by gatekeepers, Sanchez most recently blew out Wellington Turman with power that had never been seen before. Sanchez has always been a solid wrestler yet it was his ineffective striking that let him down. While his gas tank may falter late in fights, the reborn Sanchez could be an early problem for most in the division.
Uzbek, Muradov, has slowly been accumulating wins in the shadows of the UFC. Victories over Alessio Di Chirico (yes, the Buckley hype destroyed) and Trevor Smith highlight Muradov’s immediate level. A master of range, Muradov bounces with ease on the balls of his feet and plays opponents around his jab. While his ground game has never been exposed, Sanchez’ stamina issues means that Muradov only have to worry about a couple threatening attempts.
Predicted Result: Muradov TKO Round 3
Prone to being stopped late, it is often Sanchez’s gas tank that fails him rather than his chin. Muradov is a polished striker who will be able to Matador his lumbering foe around the octagon. Sanchez could secure a fast submission, and his recent stoppage victory may have inspired a new Andrew Sanchez, but most likely, he will tire fast.
Result: Muradov def. Sanchez // TKO (flying knee and punches) Round 3 2:59
Winner ✔️ // Method ✔️ // Round ✔️
Women’s Strawweight (115)
Marina Rodriguez (12-1-2) vs Amanda Ribas (10-1)
Marina Rodriguez is just one tiny half step away from cracking into the Strawweight elite. Aside from a majority decision draw to Randa Markos, Rodriguez’s record is fabulous. Owning dominant victories over Jessica Aguilar and Tecia Torres, Rodriguez also secured a draw against Calvillo (that could have gone either way) and harshly found herself on the wrong end of a decision against former champ, Carla Esparza. Decent TDD, Rodriguez’s best work is on her feet where she is able to dial up the volume and drown out opponents. Lacking power, as is common in WMMA, Rodriguez’s biggest struggle has been earning the respect of the top opponents she has recently faecd.
The UFC is smoking hot on Amanda Ribas. Pushing her hard up the rankings, Ribas faces the biggest fight of her life. Coming off of a first round submission of Paige VanZant is impressive, yet this was a PVZ that hadn’t fought for 18 months and had regressed since her best days way back in 2014. A ball of enthusiasm and positivity during her interviews, Ribas has been garnering media attention. Inside of the octagon, Ribas is still a relatively unknown entity. A strong jab, and fearsome on the mat, it is yet to be seen if her takedown game can survive as she faces better opposition.
Predicted Result: Rodriguez Decision
Rodriguez’s inability to pick herself from the mat is a major red flag going into the fight. Rodriguez’s sweltering striking pace, however, will be a threat that Ribas has never faced before. It is a close affair, and many questions remain over both fighter’s heart/ability during the closing round, but Rodriguez has proven herself against stronger competition so far.
Result: Rodriguez def. Ribas // TKO (elbow and punches) Round 2 0:54
Winner ✔️ // Method ❌ // Round ❌
Arman Tsarukyan (15-2) vs Matt Frevola (8-1-1)
This fight is a b-b-b-banger bois. Tsarukyan is a fabulous wrestler who is rapidly raising his striking too. Going toe-to-toe with Islam Makhachev just last year highlights the ability of Tsarukyan, while successfully jabbing the face off of Davi Ramos indicates his development. Big prospect, big love.
Matt Frevola is not afraid to eat some punishment. Now owning a well-rounded skillset, Frevola targets the body and peppers foes with kicks before pulling the rug from underneath them with a takedown. Hard to predict inside of the octagon and willing to wade into murky waters, Frevola is a brilliant test for Tsarukyan.
Predicted Result: Tsarukyan Decision
I refuse to hop off of the Armenian’s hype train. In fact, I am scaling it up. Tsarukyan’s decision loss to Makhachev will age finely over the years, as his spirited performance will be remembered against an elite opponent. Tsarukyan may struggle to secure the takedown early against Frevola, but his improved striking will keep him in the fight until Frevola has been weakened.
Result: Tsarukyan def. Frevola // Decision (unanimous – 30-27, 30-27, 30-26)
Winner ✔️ // Method ✔️ // Round ✔️
Brad Tavares (17-6) vs Antonio Carlos Junior (10-4)
Perennial Middleweight gatekeeper, Brad Tavares has had a torrid time of it the past couple of years. After a workmanlike decision loss to champion, Israel Adesanya, Tavares was then blown away in one round by prospect Edmen Shahbazyan. Fundamentally strong, Tavares has always lacked the physical proportions and attributes to make a real run up the Middleweight rankings.
Carlos Junior needs to make it to the mat or he can’t survive. It is similar to a fish in water scenario. Carlos Junior’s five wins in the UFC have all come from the rear-naked choke, and more impressively, are spread about the three rounds. Dangerous at any point in the fight, Carlos Junior is far more potent early doors as his takedown game is more successfully employed.
Predicted Result: Carlos Junior Submission Round 2
It was only a few years ago that Tavares was taken down at will by now-cut Elias Theodorou. Two years before that, Tavares tasted the canvas seven times against Yoel Romero. Carlos Junior isn’t a takedown machine, can flag horrendously during the later rounds, and Tavares has never been submitted. It is a toss-up, but Tavares’ career may be catching up to him.
Result: Tavares def. Carlos Junior // Decision (unanimous – 29-28, 30-27, 30-27)
Winner ❌ // Method ❌ // Round ❌
Women’s Bantamweight (135)
Sara McMann (12-5) vs Julianna Pena (9-4)
Everyone, quick, grab your cameras – it is a rare sighting of former title challenger, Sara McMann. McMann was once seen as a future champion, yet her career frustratingly fell apart after poor performances against contenders. McMann’s wrestling background is impressive, yet it never really transitioned perfectly into MMA. At forty-years old, McMann is a walking target as her striking has never been the most composed.
Pena, for lack of technical polish, is an elite athlete in the division. Having only suffered losses to Shevchenko and GDR while in the UFC, Pena remains one of the best contenders at Bantamweight (yikes, lmao). Pena is an energetic wrestler, unlike McMann’s tactical superiority, who will risk throwing her head in awkward spots to secure a takedown.
Predicted Result: Pena Decision
Pena works herself into awkward positions when chasing a takedown, and as a result, could find herself snapped into a submission. Sadly, at forty-years old, McMann is going to struggle against the elite athleticism of Pena.
Result: Pena def. Sara McMann // Submission (rear-naked choke) Round 3 3:39
Winner ✔️ // Method ❌ // Round ❌
Light Heavyweight (205)
Khalil Rountree (8-4) vs Marcin Prachnio (13-5)
It’s such a shame that ‘Bangkok ready Rountree’ lasted for that sole fight against Eryk Anders, but what a fight it was. Firing off chopping leg kicks, jumping in to one-twos before scuttling away, threatening with elbows as Anders closed the distance – Rountree looked immense. It was quite the fall from grace when he was blown apart in the first round by power puncher, Ion Cutelaba. Always dangerous on his feet, Rountree struggles on the mat, but he’s damn fun to watch.
Prachnio is certainly going to be cut if he loses this match. On a three fight slide, including a FIRST ROUND KNOCKOUT LOSS TO SMILIN SAM ALVEY. Hold up… what? Did anybody else forget about this fight? Prachnio showed a couple signs of hope against Rodrigues are he tried to keep the fight at a safe-ish distance, but his tendency to back against the cage will forever be his undoing.
Predicted Result: Rountree TKO Round 1
Following the clear pattern on Prachnio’s record, it would be foolish to deviate from anything other than a first round stoppage for Rountree. His fearsome power will be more than enough to crack the Pole’s chin.
Result: Prachnio def. Rountree // Decision (unanimous – 29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
Winner ❌ // Method ❌ // Round ❌
Nik Lentz (30-11-2) vs Movsar Evloev (13-0)
Early Prelim b-b-b-b-banger bois! Veteran Nik Lentz is well over the hill, yet he still packs enough of a punch to push prospects through the ringer. Forever a grappling grinder, Lentz has developed his striking and uncovered decent power that has saved him on occasion.
Evloev is a wonderful fighter to watch. Evloev’s biggest issue is a lack of natural athleticism and at times an inability to fluidly string together all facets of his game. Regardless, Evloev is a well-rounded fighter who can win from any area in the octagon.
Predicted Result: Evloev Decision
Evloev is susceptible to missing the mark on occasion, a risk against an experienced fighter with commendable power. Still, the Russian’s ability to take the fight to the mat and stall out Lentz is enough to comfortably pick, Evloev.
Result: Evloev def. Lentz // Decision (split – 28-29, 29-28, 29-28)
Winner ✔️ // Method ✔️ // Round ✔️
Amir Albazi (13-1) vs Zhalgas Zhumagulov (13-4)
Albazi, the man who destroyed Malcom Gordon with a first round triangle choke, has been one of the more exciting pandemic finds. Snake-like on the mat, Albazi constantly transitions to find more dominant position and eventually lock in a submission.
Zhumagulov is a weathered veteran who will be difficult to out-fox. He is also really really boring to watch too, however.
Predicted Result: Albazi Decision
The spirited takedowns of Albazi and his propensity to take risks will take the scorecards away from Zhumagulov.
Result: Albazi def. Zhumagulov // Decision (unanimous – 29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
Winner ✔️ // Method ✔️ // Round ✔️
2021 MMA Season
Takeaway comments: End of an era, so long Notorious.
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