UFC257 Preview: The MAC is BACK!
UFC superstar Conor McGregor (feature image, and below right) returns to the octagon on Saturday night to face former interim lightweight champion, Dustin Poirier. Will he start his year off with a win, or will it be “The Diamond” who will be shining in 2021?
Betfred’s Kevin Tsang, alongside UFC Star Danny Roberts, give us their breakdown of #UFC257.
- Dustin Poirier vs Conor McGregor (main event – lightweight)
- Dan Hooker vs Michael Chandler (co-man – lightweight)
- Jessica Eye vs Joanne Calderwood (women’s flyweight)
- Matt Frevola vs Ottman Azaitar (lightweight)
- Marina Rodriguez vs Amanda Ribas (women’s strawweight)
- Nasrat Haqparast vs Arman Tsarukyan (lightweight)
- Khalil Rountree Jr vs Marcin Prachnio (light heavyweight)
- Julianna Pena vs Sara McMann (women’s bantamweight)
- Brad Tavares vs Antonio Carlos Junior (middleweight)
- Andrew Sanchez vs Makhmud Muradov (middleweight)
- Movsar Evloev vs Nik Lentz (catchweight – 150 lb)
- Amir Albazi vs Zhalgas Zhumagulov (flyweight)
Where, when and how can I watch it?
UFC257 will be broadcast live on BT Sport Box Office (£19.95) in the UK. The early prelims start from 11:30 GMT, the prelims 1am and the main card will kick off at around 3am GMT. We expect the main event of McGregor vs Poirier at around 5am GMT.
Conor McGregor vs Dustin Poirier – “The First Time”
Who would have thought six years ago, these two fighters would be fighting again in the lightweight division, certainly not me!
But yes, both fighters went toe-to-toe back in Sept 17th 2014 at UFC178, when Conor made quick work of Poirier with a grazing left hand after 1:46 of the first round.
Interestingly, there was some controversy over whether McGregor hit Poirier on the back of the head with his elbow as he followed through. However, referee Herb Dean made no such signal and the Nevada State Athletic Commission confirmed that the elbow landed to a legal area of Poirier’s head.
Conor McGregor – “the season begins AGAIN”
Conor’s last performance came against Donald Cerrone in a welterweight bout on 18th January 2020 at UFC 246. As expected, the fight started explosively, with Conor just barely missing with his signature left hand and engaging in a clinch.
To his opponent’s surprise and that of many viewers around the world, Conor began to strike with his shoulders and eventually broke Cerrone’s nose.
Both fighters broke from a clinch, and left high kick from Conor left his opponent stunned. Conor began to smell blood and started teeing off with huge power punches to the head.
The fight was eventually stopped, and Conor won via technical knockout 40 seconds into the first round. The win made McGregor the first UFC fighter to hold knockout finishes in the featherweight, lightweight, and welterweight divisions.
It was the perfect start to McGregor’s season, as he aimed to compete at least three times that year with the hope of securing another championship bout with rival and lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov.
However, Conor grew frustrated with the UFC for refusing to book him a fight throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. With no fight booked, McGregor announced that he would be retiring for a second time.
However, after a turn of emotions and an opportunity to fight again on the main stage, McGregor returns in the first month of the year as he takes on Dustin “The Diamond” Poirier on Saturday night.
Dustin Poirier – “Back up for Glory”
After an emotional defeat to Khabib in 2019, Poirier (above) came back stronger than ever in 2020 with a unanimous victory over Dan Hooker. In the end, the fight was a highly contested five-round affair (48-47, 48-47, 48-46), with plenty of back and forth, but Poirier’s superior conditioning and experience edged him the victory.
In my opinion it was a well-deserved nomination for the best fight of the year. He is currently 10-2 in the lightweight division, and with his eyes set on another crack at an undisputed UFC title, a win on Saturday would cement his standing as one of the best fighters in the world.
Especially with Khabib Nurmagomedov all but retired, and the belt likely to be vacated, this is a huge opportunity for “The Diamond.”
Prediction – Will it be revenge, or will history repeat itself?
6 years is a long time since their first encounter, and a lot has changed for both fighters. After moving back up to lightweight in 2015, Dustin looks dominant in the division with 10 wins out of 12 (most notably against Max Holloway, Eddie Alverez, Justin Gaethje and Anthony Pettis).
The setting has also changed, with little mind games and trash-talking from Conor, which I think might have made Poirier a little emotional going into the first fight.
There’s also the fact that there isn’t a packed crowd, which we’ve seen affect some fighters in past. Not to mention, Dustin has gained a wealth of experience since they last fought. Overall, I strongly believe he’s definitely improved a lot as a fighter, but has he improved enough to change the outcome this time at UFC257?
My honest opinion is no. I think this is a bad matchup for Poirier given that he’s more of a boxer and McGregor is known for excellent striking.
If he has any chance of winning this fight, he’s going to have use that excellent cardio and durability that he’s shown previously. Maybe even use some of his expertise in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu to bring the fight to the ground.
However, President Dana White has been speaking about Conor, and remarked “I know when the real Conor is here and the other Conor is here, and believe me when I tell you – the real Conor is here.”
It’s exciting for the public, but also for fight fans because Conor’s got one of the highest fighting IQs in the UFC. His awareness of space and timing is impeccable, and there’s nothing more dangerous than a focused Conor McGregor.
My prediction is a 2nd round KO for Conor McGregor.
Video – UFC Welterweight Star, Danny Roberts, delivers his verdicts
We also managed to catch up with Danny Roberts, who had these thoughts ahead of UFC257.
Dustin Poirier v Conor McGregor preview HERE
Dan Hooker v Michael Chandler preview HERE
Matt Frevola v Ottman Azaitar preview HERE
Jessica Eye v Joanne Calderwood preview HERE