One-all, who wants it all?
The highly-anticipated trilogy bout between Conor McGregor and Dustin Poirier goes down on Saturday, July 11, in what could determine who fights the current UFC Lightweight Champion, Charles Oliveira, next.
We’ll also have the pleasure of watching two former Welterweight title contenders, Gilbert Burns and Stephen Thompson battle it out. The rest of the card also features former NFL player Greg Hardy vs Tai Tuivasa, Irene Aldana vs Yana Kunitskaya and Sean O’Malley vs Louis Smolka.
- Dustin Poirier vs. Conor McGregor (Lightweight)
- Gilbert Burns vs. Stephen Thompson (Welterweight)
- Tai Tuivasa vs. Greg Hardy (Heavyweight)
- Irene Aldana vs. Yana Kunitskaya (Women’s Bantamweight)
- Sean O’Malley vs. Kris Moutinho (Bantamweight)
- Carlos Condit vs. Max Griffin (Welterweight)
- Michel Pereira vs. Niko Price (Welterweight)
- Dricus du Plessis vs. Trevin Giles (Middleweight)
- Kevin Lee vs. Sean Brady (Welterweight)
- Jessica Eye vs. Jennifer Maia (Women’s Flyweight)
- Ryan Hall vs. Ilia Topuria (Featherweight)
- Omari Akhmedov vs. Brad Tavares (Middleweight)
- Jerome Rivera vs. Zhalgas Zhumagulov (Flyweight)
- Alen Amedovski vs. Hu Yaozong (Middleweight)
Where, when and how can I watch it?
UFC 264 is scheduled to take place on Saturday, July 11 and is being held at the T-Mobile arena. It will be broadcasted live on BT Sport Box Office (£19.95). The early prelims start at midnight and the main card will kick off at around 3am BST. We expect the main event of McGregor v Poirier to start at around 5am BST.
Conor McGregor (22-5-0)
It’s been a turbulent few years for “The Notorious” as he’s lost two out of his last four fights. And to be honest, I’m not really surprised. Conor has only had six fights in the last five years and the lack of activity really showed in his last fight.
Watching his second fight with Poirier, Conor was almost unrecognisable at times. For the fight fans who have followed McGregor’s fighting career, I’m sure we are more used to seeing an elusive, calculated and measured fighter. However, in his last fight we saw a fighter who was more focused on boxing Manny Pacquiao. He didn’t give Dustin the respect that he deserved and got completely outclassed on the night.
In my opinion, this is one of McGregor’s most important fights in his MMA career, as he seeks to revenge his loss to “The Diamond.” Don’t get me wrong, he’ll still sell fights, but he won’t have the respect from other fighters who feared him before, should he lose this one.
Dustin Poirier (27-6-0)
Aside from his loss Khabib Nurmagomedov at UFC 242, Poirier has been on an absolute rampage in the lightweight division. “The Diamond” has won nine out of his last 12 fights in the last five years, which is incredible.
Compared to his first encounter with “The Notorious,” it was clear to me we saw a more confident and experienced fighter in the octagon. He didn’t allow any emotions or mind games to play a part in the second fight, and more importantly, he physically looks more comfortable at lightweight than he ever did at featherweight.
A win on Saturday will surely put Poirier in pole position to face Charles Oliveira for the lightweight title.
Prediction – Poirier 4th Round TKO
We’ve seen Conor make the necessary adjustments to redeem a loss before (against Nate Diaz) and therefore, you could argue he will do the same against Poirier.
The obvious adjustment is checking those calf kicks. The calf kicks played a huge role in slowing him down, which really impacted his mobility and balance to strike back with any sort of conviction. However, for me, it’s whether Conor can keep the fight off the ground in the early stages, as I thought Poirier’s early takedown was extremely pivotal to setting the tone for the fight last time out.
Therefore, Conor’s takedown defence will have to be on-point and I would like to see him be lighter on his feet. Just based on his stance (see image above), you could tell in the second fight he was trying to be the early aggressor and looking to outbox his opponent.
However, that became his biggest downfall and I think Conor is at his best when he looks to counter punch his opponents. I’d expect Conor to throw more kicks and use that front kick, which we had seen on many occasions to keep Dustin on the backfoot but still be in range to strike.
For Dustin, he will be very aware of Conor’s track record of being an extremely fast starter, with 20 of his wins finished in either round 1 or 2. So for him, getting passed that early phase of the fight will be extremely important. I think head movement will be key for Poirier and to constantly be looking for opportunities to take Conor to the ground and drain his energy.
Taking all things into account, I think we’ll see the same result but more towards the 4th round. I think Poirier has some momentum behind him here, and is more of a complete fighter than he was back in 2014 in the first fight between these two. He has incredible stamina and has all the attributes to slow down the fight and turn it up at the right moments. Therefore, I see Poirier finishing the fight in the 4th round.
Gilbert Burns (19-4-0)
Prior to his title fight, Burns was riding high, on a 6-fight win streak – most notably beating Tyron Woodley and Demian Maia.
The win streak was broken when “Durinho” came up against “The Nigerian Nightmare” Kamaru Usman for the Welterweight Title at UFC 258.
He had an explosive first round as he rattled Usman with an overhand right. However, Usman did incredibly well to recover and slow down the fight. He eventually got outworked on the feet and got finished in the 3rd round with a vicious straight jab followed by some ground and pound.
He’ll be looking to get back to winning ways with his fight against Stephen Thompson.
Stephen Thompson (16-4-1)
Stephen Thompson is one of the most established strikers in the welterweight division, and he’ll look to cement his position here as the number one contender for the title.
He is the only fighter in the top 5 who hasn’t faced Kamara Usman. If this were to happen, I think this would be a very entertaining fight and a hard match up for Usman, but that’s for another blog!
His last fight came against Geoff Neal where he won by unanimous decision at UFC Fight Night and deservedly so. At 38 years old, he still looks fast on the feet – a lot of critics said he looked to be slowing down, after defeats to Darren Till and Anthony Pettis.
However, wins over Geoff Neal and Vincente Luque have put him back in the frame for another title shot, and a win on Saturday night over Burns will only enhance his title shot chances.
Prediction – Stephen Thompson via Decision
It’s hard to deny Burns’ power and the fact that he is one of the best submission grapplers on the UFC roster.
However, I think Thompson will take this one. I don’t believe Thompson has enough power to knock Burns out, but I’m confident he’ll out strike his opponent to a decision win.
He’ll go into the fight with a 4-inch reach advantage, 2-inch leg reach advantage and 78% takedown defence, which will be key against a talented grappler like Burns.
Regardless of the result, I think this will be one of the fights of the night between a Brazilian jiu-jitsu specialist and karate specialist.
Tai Tuivasa v Greg Hardy – Tai Tuivasa via KO Round 2
A great opportunity for both fighters to get their name out there and what better way than with a viral KO. With 16 knockouts out of 25 fights between them, I’d be very surprised if there wasn’t one.
The question is who do I think would get it? Well, anything can happen, but stylistically I think this is a better match up for Tuivasa.
He’s got some mean low leg kicks, and we’ve seen Hardy struggle with lead leg kicks in the past. A few of those and I’m sure he’ll look to move inside his opponent and come over the top with a overhand right.
Irene Aldana v Yana Kunitskaya – Aldana win via decision
Another interesting match-up in the women’s bantamweight division between Aldana and Kunitskaya.
Aldana is coming off a defeat against Holly Holm and will be looking to improve her standing in the bantamweight division. Kunitskaya, on the other hand, is coming into the fight on the back of two consecutive victories.
Whilst Kunitskaya has the better record and will be coming in with more confidence, I think Aldana’s striking power will give her the victory. She is very good on the feet, and is a great boxer, so it’ll be interesting to see how she deals with a grappler and grinder who will look to wear down her explosiveness.
Sean O’Malley v Kris Moutinho – Sean O’Malley via KO Round 1
One of my favourite fighters at the moment, “Sugar” Sean O’Malley returns to the octagon after a brutal KO victory over Thomas Almeida in the 3rd round.
Some would argue he could have finished the fight in round 1 but he stood off his opponent to get a walk off KO. Nevertheless, he looked in incredible shape as he has done in most of his fights in the UFC.
Probably unknown to most people, but Kris Moutinho is a CFFC veteran and has a chance to shock the world in the biggest stage in MMA. He comes from an excellent wrestling background, but generally loves to strike and get into some scrappy exchanges.
Based on the limited camp preparation his opponent will have had, I see nothing but a Sean O’Malley KO.
Sean is bigger, more experienced in the UFC and extremely dangerous in all departments, especially in striking. The ONLY way I see Moutinho winning, is if Sean’s ankle suddenly gives way and is unable to move. We’ve seen this previously against Andre Soukhamthath and Marlon Vera, but hopefully that doesn’t happen. I really do believe he is the star of future!