Tag Archives: UFC 257

The time is now for Conor McGregor vs Nate Diaz 3

When you talk to an MMA casual, you can normally bet your mortgage that they’ll know who Conor McGregor and Nate Diaz are.

The two are forever intertwined for their famous rivalry during McGregor’s run to becoming the biggest superstar the sport has ever seen, with their welterweight feud providing two classic moments in the fight world.

Their first clash came on just 11 days notice, when McGregor’s bid to go for champ-champ status was postponed as Rafael Dos Anjos picked up a foot injury. A war of words between Diaz and Conor had already been sparked, with the Stockton native’s infamous post-fight octagon interview call out.

Diaz stepped in, McGregor accepted without hesitation and a welterweight bout was made at the drop of a hat. The press conference that followed saw verbals exchanged in a small gym at short notice before they stepped in for the highly anticipated clash. Diaz of course got the famous win via rear-naked choke in the second round, catapulting him to main stream stardom.

The rematch was made immediately afterwards, at welterweight again, as McGregor was adamant he wanted to avenge his loss at the same weight class. There was more aggro at the press conferences for this one and more animosity between the two, with things thrown at the press conference and McGregor even taking a swing at Diaz’s hands during the face-off at the weigh ins.

McGregor did ultimately get his win back though, with a unanimous decision win in a fight that has gone down as an all-time classic. Following that fight, McGregor immediately stated he was open to the trilogy bout in the future but it was now going to be on his terms and he wanted it at 155lbs.

There has been verbal clashes between the two since that day in 2016 but the fight has never happened. It’s never quite aligned in the stars. McGregor of course went on to beat Eddie Alvarez for the 155lbs title to become the first ever champ-champ, before taking a mind boggling boxing fight against Floyd Mayweather Jr.

Nate Diaz took three whole years off before he entered the octagon again, smashing through Anthony Pettis before losing to Jorge Masvidal for the BMF title in 2019.

Diaz is intent on only taking money fights at this point, insisting his brand and name deserve it. McGregor had previously been keen for title fights or fights with contenders. But his defeat to Dustin Poirier may need to alter that thought process in the immediate future.

There’s a mini tournament happening right now for the UFC lightweight title, with Dana White admitting that Khabib Nurmagomedov is unlikely to reconsider his decision to retire following UFC 254 in October 2020.

Poirier’s stunning knockout win over McGregor has earned him a title shot in his next fight and Michael Chandler’s vicious knockout win over Dan Hooker likely puts him in that conversation along with Charles Oliveira.

Justin Gaethje lost to Khabib in his last outing, while Tony Ferguson got brushed aside by Oliveira and Gaethje in each of his last two outings. The division is stacked and McGregor has said he wants to get back in there as soon as possible.

UFC 202: Diaz v McGregor 2 : News Photo

But he’ll want a more favourable match up to ensure he gets back on the winning trail. Gaethje is a man who loves to kick the legs and has incredible knockout power plus a granite chin, much like what caused him problems against Poirier. Ferguson has an incredible chin but is also a demon when it comes to grappling, something that has never been McGregor’s strongest suit.

Diaz is a black belt in jiu-jitsu, but he’s also a handy boxer. He doesn’t really have knockout power but he does have submissions. What’s more though, is Conor has actually been more active and beaten him more recently.

He knows how to get it done against Diaz and if there’s anything the UFC need is for Conor to get back into the win column to ensure his star stays high.

His best chance of a win in the current climate against the current batch of potential opponents comes against Diaz. A win gets him back in the conversation for contender bouts, while the top of the division sorts itself out with the title picture becoming clearer.

Diaz gets the big pay cheque he’s so desperate for, knowing that a win gets him in contender contention too which also equals more money. For the UFC, it means that they have another big money Conor McGregor fight and rivalry to milk.

People will tune in to watch yet another McGregor comeback fight, this time knowing that it’s against a man that has beaten him before. They know there is respect there but there is also bad blood between the two and people will want to see if McGregor really is washed up.

There has been no better time to make McGregor vs Diaz 3 than right now.

UFC 257 Fallout: Poirier smokes McGregor, Chandler shocks everyone

The first pay-per-view of the year lived up to the hype, as Dustin Poirier knocked out Conor McGregor in the second round of their UFC 257 rematch.

The lightweight contenders were matched up in order to figure out who would be the next challenger for the 155lbs championship, with Khabib Nurmagomedov’s future unclear.

It was a wonderful performance from Poirier, as he implemented a game plan to smother the early power of McGregor before smashing him with calf kicks to stop his movement. After getting a takedown early in the first round and exchanging in the pockets, Poirier’s leg kick really damaged McGregor and in the second round the boxing exchanges were easier.

He hurt him with some big shots and while McGregor fired back with great accuracy, the difference in durability between their first fight and now was evident – Poirier could take the power now. He went to work with big combos against the cage, before a short right hook landed flush on the nose and dropped McGregor. He landed two more while Conor was down, but the fight was already done and the referee waved it off.

It was a showing that really emphasised the coming of age ‘Diamond’ has had since that first fight at featherweight in 2014. He has now won 11 of 14 fights at lightweight, with arguably the best CV of fighters on his record of anyone else in the division – including the champion Nurmagomedov.

His next fight will almost certainly be for the title now, although Dana White announced after the fight that the chances of a Khabib return from retirement are “not looking so positive.”

That means that he will likely fight either Charles Oliveira or Michael Chandler for the vacant belt later this year, after the latter’s successful debut in the co-main event.

Chandler took on number six ranked Dan Hooker and applied pressure from the opening second of the fight. As they circled, Hooker looked nervous and barring a few tame leg kicks didn’t throw any strikes. Chandler threw two long jabs to the body before a huge left hook landed flush on the chin and dropped him. He landed a barrage of shots before the referee stepped in and looked powerful to make an impression on all the eyes tuning in for the card.

It was a big eye opener for many, as his pressure seemed to freeze Hooker and has put the rest of the division on notice.

White commented in the post-fight press conference that Poirier vs Hooker for the vacant title makes the most sense if Khabib doesn’t return, although Poirier “guaranteed” that he would not be fighting Chandler in his next fight as he doesn’t feel he’s earned a title shot in the promotion just yet.

As for McGregor, he vowed to return later this year as he needs the activity and hopes for a rematch with Poirier to settle their trilogy at some point in the future.

What this performance showed though was that right now, Dustin Poirier is the best active lightweight in the world. Paid in full.

UFC 257: Poirier vs McGregor – Results (Highlights)

EARLY PRELIMS

Amir Albazi def Zhalgas Zhumagulov via Unanimous Decision (29-28 x3)

Good start to the bout from Zhumagulov as he lands two really nice combos on the feet. Albazi starting to work some leg kicks but Zhumagulov throwing a heavy overhand right that is just missing the target. Albazi starting to pressure against the cage and throws a big knee that Zhumagulov just steps out of the way of. Albazi shoots for a double leg and gets it, but Zhumagulov uses the cage to get back up quickly and they break apart. Both men exchange leg kicks in the centre, before Albazi lands a big right hand. Spinning back fist in response from Zhumagulov is followed by a left hook. Big double leg takedown from Zhumagulov takes Albazi down in the final seconds and ends the round on top. 10-9 Zhalgas.

Albazi comes out very aggressive in the second round and lands three big leg kicks early that get a reaction from Zhumagulov. Looks for a big knee against the cage but misses again and Zhumagulov lands a nice left hand. Albazi jabbing really well and pressuring against the cage, as Zhumagulov is loading a big right hand but can’t land it. Lots of movement and small touches from each man but Albazi controlling the pace of this round well. Zhumagulov shoots for a takedown with 20 seconds left but Albazi denies it and ends the round in a dominant position. 19-19.

Albazi controlling the distance in the final round here, landing jabs and maintaining his range. He shoots for the takedown and is denied but after a scramble he clinches up and gets Zhumagulov down and is in his full guard. Nice ground and pound and control from Albazi from the top position as he passes into side control and then takes the back. Albazi sinks the hooks in and threatens a rear naked choke but Zhumagulov fighting the hands well. Zhumagulov tries to turn into his guard but Albazi defends the position perfectly and continues the threaten the submission as we enter the final minute. Zhumagulov bursts out and gets back to his feet and starts firing punches and kicks. Albazi counters with a right hand and just using his footwork really well to avoid any damage and the round ends. Should be a win for Albazi. 29-28.

Movsar Evloev def Nik Lentz via Split Decision (29-28 x2, 28-29)

Interesting start to this fight, as Lentz throws a leg kick and shovel uppercut to start the fight before moving for a takedown against the cage. Evloev defends well and falls on top, but Lentz looks to lock in a guillotine choke! It gets tighter and tighter and Evloev has to roll through to escape, before rolling through once again to end up back on top. Lentz continue to threaten with the guillotine but Evloev defends well again and ends the round on top firing in some excellent ground and pound. 10-9 Evloev.

Lentz looking to stand in this round and landing well but Evloev trying to up the pace and coming forward with some more awkward striking. Trip attempt from Lentz against the cage and once again he goes for the guillotine and forces Evloev to roll away once again. Lentz seems to be landing the better strikes on the feet but Evloev is doing more damage to the blind eye. Nice uppercut from Evloev lands and Lentz charges forward looking for a trip but misses it. Evloev lands some shots to the eye and it’s causing Lentz some problems, so he goes for a front headlock looking for a guillotine again! Evloev escapes again though and smothers Lentz with a few strikes as they stand up. Round ends against the cage, 20-18 Evloev for me.

Both men choosing to strike in this round, trading jabs and kicks. Lentz looks very tired but is trying to take the centre, while Evloev is bouncing and moving well still. Evloev lands a nice three-punch combo and that gets Lentz to shoot for a takedown but Evloev defends it really well and gets back to the feet quickly. Evloev catches a kick from Lentz and lands a stiff right hand that wobbles Lentz, who looks exhausted now. Evloev dominating the fight now with sharp striking and short combos, really putting a hurting on Lentz. Round comes to an end with Evloev dominating the exchanges again, a beautiful performance. 30-27.

PRELIMS

Marcin Prachnio def Khalil Rountree Jr via Unanimous Decision (29-28 x3)

A cagey start to this one with lots of feints and fakes from both fighters. Prachnio backs Rountree up against the cage and fires off some kicks, but Rountree comes back with some big punches of his own. Prachnio throwing a nice side kick to maintain distance, but Rountree switches to southpaw and starts throwing big straight left hands to steal the round potentially. 10-9 either way, but Rountree for me.

Rountree comes out hard and fast in the second round and wobbles Prachnio immediately but stays patient and doesn’t go for the kill. Some more left hands land from Rountree but Prachnio is swinging wildly and landing on occasion. Big exchange in the centre and then throws a lazy leg kick that gets countered with a powerful left hand. Rountree is countering Prachnio’s strikes really well and then lands a huge left hand that drops Prachnio! He stays patient and then lands a huge head kick but Prachnio keeps it standing and the round ends. Huge end for Rountree. 20-18 for me but could be even.

Big start to the third round for Rountree again as he lands a couple more of those big left hands to open up. Prachnio being a bit more patient and coming forward with his shots but Rountree looking good. Rountree defends two takedowns well and Prachnio starting to work on the body as Rountree is tiring. Lazy swings from Rountree now but then he lands a beautiful counter uppercut. Both men trading strikes in the centre of the octagon looking for a winning punch but the round comes to an end. Great fight, 29-28 Rountree for me but could well be the other way.

Juliana Pena def Sara McMann via Submission (Rear Naked Choke), Round 3 (3:39)

Cagey opening to this fight but both women looking to take this fight on the feet to start with, trading solid shots to the head. McMann fires off with a big right hand, Pena fires back with one of her own. Takedown attempt from McMann and she takes it, quickly progressing to take the back of Pena. She tries to sink the hooks in but doesn’t quite get it and they eventually scramble to a half-guard position with McMann on top. She lands a big elbow from the top and keeps the position for the rest of the round. 10-9 McMann.

Pena comes out with big pressure in the second round and forces McMann to shoot early. Pena looks to lock up a guillotine but McMann defends it really well and passes into guard. Pena being very active off her back, throwing lots of elbows and strikes and looking for submissions. McMann defending the submissions well though and landing some big elbows of her own. She tries to transition to the back but Pena defends well and gets back to the feet against the cage. Clinch position sees both women throw lots of knees to the body, before Pena lands a nice three-punch combo to end the round. 19-19 for me.

Big round for Pena as she comes out heavy with the strikes again before another clinch against the cage. This time Pena goes for a trip and gets it. She starts working the ground and pound from the top with McMann facing down on the ground. Pena takes the back, slaps on a body triangle and immediately goes for a rear naked choke. She sinks it in and McMann taps out. What a performance.

Brad Tavares def Antonio Carlos Junior via Unanimous Decision (30-27 x2, 29-28)

Fast start to the fight for ‘Shoeface’ as the two trade strikes before he shoots for the takedown against the cage. He tries to lift the head above Tavares’ head to send him to the ground but he shows excellent flexibility to deny him. The two then trade big shots in the centre and Shoeface shoots again, powering Tavares across the cage. Tavares manages to keep his balance though and keep the fight standing after a clinch against the cage. A big exchange again sees Shoeface go for the takedown before they clinch against the cage and a big low blow accidentally lands from Shoeface. Fight paused but only a few seconds remain. 10-9 Shoeface.

Better start to the round for Tavares here as he lands some nice strikes before Shoeface changes levels and gets the takedown successfully this time. Shoeface tries to hold him down but Tavares pops back up to his feet again and manages to escape once again. Tavares landing his jab nicely which forces Shoeface to shoot for another takedown but he fails it again. Tavares lands a big one-two against the cage that drops Shoeface! He tries to go for the takedown to recover but Tavares defends it again and looks to land a big knee that misses and hits the cup to cause a pause and allow Shoeface to recover. Round ends with a big body kick from Tavares. 19-19.

Tavares popping his jab out nicely in the final round, keeping Shoeface at a distance. Shoeface shoots for another takedown but once again it’s defended perfectly against the cage and comes out firing big leg kicks. Tavares is slipping the punches of Shoeface now and landing big strikes of his own and defending takedowns too for the rest of the round to claim what should be a decision win for the Hawaiian. 29-28.

Arman Tsarukyan def Matt Frevola via Unanimous Decision (30-27 x2, 30-26)

Fast paced start to this one as Frevola steps out with a wild right hook that misses and Tsarukyan shoots straight in for a takedown and gets it. Frevola scoots back to the cage and gets back to his feet before being lifted and slammed back down. Frevola gets back to his feet quickly again but Tsarukyan continues to stay in the pocket and changes levels for more takedowns. Frevola continues to reverse positions and get back to his feet quickly though and is throwing with great power on the feet to end the round. 10-9 Tsarukyan but could go either way.

Fast start to the second round here too as Tsarukyan comes out and moves straight for a takedown and gets it. He finally manages to hold Frevola down and starts landing some nice ground and pound strikes from the top. Frevola tries to escape but Tsarukyan drags him back down to the ground and starts to dominate. He keeps him down and lands more big strikes and passes position to take the round. 20-18 Tsarukyan.

Final round and Tsarukyan is maintaining a good pace and gets another takedown early. Frevola gets back to the feet quicker this time and the two engage in a bit more of a striking battle. Some great jabs land before more takedowns from Tsarukyan as he starts to hold position and dominate from the top. Fantastic performance and it should be enough to get him the decision. 30-27.

MAIN CARD

Marina Rodriguez def Amanda Ribas via Knockout, Round 2 (0:54)

Good start to the fight for Ribas as she takes the centre of the cage, applies pressure and throws a few flurries of punches. Rodriguez looks to come in with a punch and Ribas slips it and gets a takedown early on. She keeps top position and starts landing some nice ground and pound strikes as Rodriguez looks to defend from her back. Ribas continues to control from the top landing strikes and sees out the round. 10-9 Ribas.

Rodriguez comes out in the second round and lands a huge right hand early that drops Ribas! She lands some huge shots and the referee steps in then steps back out.. Ribas gets back up with Rodriguez celebrating but the fight isn’t over. Rodriguez comes back, lands a huge elbow and two massive right hands before the referee waves it off! What a knockout!

Makhmud Muradov def Andrew Sanchez via Knockout, Round 3 (2:59)

Tense start to this fight with both men bouncing in and out of distance looking to get a reaction from each other. Sanchez shoots in for a takedown but Muradov sprawls and defends it perfectly, as he gets back up quickly and throws some heavy calf kicks. Muradov lands a nice right hand on the chin, but Sanchez eats it well. More calf kicks from Muradov before a nice one-two to the body. Another leg kick but Sanchez throws a nice right hand to counter and lands it well. Muradov goes for a flying knee but Sanchez lands a nice strike. Muradov goes for a takedown with seconds remaining but Sanchez denies it. 10-9 Muradov.

An interesting second round as Muradov continues to look for leg kicks, while Sanchez is closing the distance well and landing a straight right hand. Lots of bouncing and feinting again from both men as Sanchez goes for a takedown against the cage but Muradov defends it well. Muradov lands a nice right hand but Sanchez continues to walk forward and strike. Big left hook from Muradov lands with a straight right behind it. Big flying crane kick from Muradov and a huge right hand behind it opens a big cut on the nose of Sanchez as the round ends. Close round, but that final exchange edges it to Muradov. 20-18.

Slower start to the third round as Muradov looks to take the centre and control the pace. Some nice body shots land before a big right overhand right connects, but Sanchez is still in there firing back. Muradov has abandoned the leg kicks now it seems and is looking for a big knockout. Sanchez lands two big shots, but Muradov returns fire with a big overhand right that makes Sanchez do the chicken dance. Flying knee behind it before some bombs and the referee waves it off. Huge win!

Joanne Calderwood def Jessica Eye via Unanimous Decision (30-27 x2, 29-28)

Fast start to this fight as Calderwood moves in quickly with clinch and lands some dirty boxing and knees to the body. Eye trying to use her physicality edge by wearing Calderwood up against the cage and firing back with strikes of her own. Calderwood landing some nice knees to the body as Eye looks to find a takedown against the cage. Lots of body work in the clinch from both ladies, with slightly more diverse attacking from Calderwood. Very even round.

Eye is marching forward in this round and landing her right hand well, but Calderwood using her length well from the outside. Nice push kicks and a big right hand lands for Calderwood, but Eye fires back with some uppercuts in the clinch and a nice elbow. Huge knee to the face by Calderwood on the break from a clinch and a huge body kick follows it up. Calderwood striking really well from range, althought Eye gets a takedown late on in the round but should still be a Calderwood round. 20-18 or 19-19.

Eye comes out aggressively in the final round and goes straight with a clinch against the cage as she looks for an opportunity for a takedown. Calderwood defending really well but not much action being seen as they battle to a stalemate against the cage and the referee breaks them apart. Clinch in the centre and Calderwood lands some nice knees again, then stuffs a takedown attempt. Nice right hand from Calderwood lands and then she sprawls quickly to deny Eye’s takedown attempt. Final 30 seconds and they clinch again, with both women throwing big knees and Calderwood lands a strike that cuts Eye wide open above the eye! That should be a Calderwood decision win.

Michael Chandler def Dan Hooker via Knockout, Round 1 (2:30)

Very tense start to the bout as the first 90 seconds are essentially just Hooker circling away from Chandler. A few leg kicks land but Chandler keeps coming forward. Long jab to the body and a huge left hook lands and drops Hooker!! He pounces and smashes him on the ground until the referee steps in and ends the fight! Wow! What a debut!

Dustin Poirier def Conor McGregor via Knockout, Round 2 (2:32)

Fast start from McGregor as he comes out into the centre quickly and throws a straight left. Poirier slips another one and returns with a right hook then gets an outside trip and takes the fight to the ground (!?) McGregor scoots back to the cage and works his way back up to his feet. Clinch against the cage and the two exchange shoulder strikes before breaking. The two break and Conor lands a clean left hand on the chin that wobbles Poirier but he stays standing Both guys land nice shots. Poirier working the leg kicks but McGregor fires back to end the round. 10-9 Conor.

Second round and Poirier continues to fire leg kicks and they seem to be hurting Conor more and more. McGregor is struggling to walk on the leg and Poirier is starting to turn the pressure up. Nice shots land and McGregor is hurt. He’s sitting in the pocket and trading, but Poirier is landing heavy shots. He lands a big combination and sits McGregor down! Follows up with a few more but the referee waves it off! Wow!

UFC 257: Poirier vs McGregor – Main Card Predictions

A swift return to action for the UFC as the final instalment of their Fight Island triple header is upon us, with Dustin Poirier taking on Conor McGregor in a lightweight eliminator.

A rematch from six years prior, both men look to put their stamp to a claim to be the next challenger for the 155lbs championship while in the co-main event, two other lightweight contenders scrap to do the same thing. Michael Chandler makes his UFC debut after signing from Bellator to take on Dan Hooker, with both men knowing that a win puts them firmly in the conversation for the next title shot.

A fun 11 fight card is on the horizon here, with plenty of good fights on the undercard to come before the two big bouts of the night.

Last time out at UFC Fight Island 8, we went 12/14 with our picks with four perfect picks to boost us up to 212/327 (64.83%) with 93 perfect picks (43.87%) since starting our picks back in June 2020.

We’ll look to improve that record here and having already predicted the prelim bouts, we take a look at the main card now.

MAIN CARD

** Ottman Azaitar was removed from the card after breaking healthy and safety regulations. He has been released from the UFC.
Nasrat Haqparast didn’t weigh in due to illness. Matt Frevola will now fight Arman Tsarukyan on the prelims.**

Marina Rodriguez (12-1-2) vs Amanda Ribas (10-1) – (Strawweight/115lbs)

An interesting bout at 115lbs as the division’s biggest prospect Amanda Ribas returns to the cage to take on Marina Rodriguez.

Rodriguez’s last two fights have seen her fight Cynthia Calvillo to a draw before a split decision loss to Carla Esparza on Fight Island last year, while Ribas is on a five fight win streak including two wins in 2020 against Randa Markos and a first round submission over Paige VanZant.

Rodriguez has good striking skills as her five knockout wins show, while Ribas is one of the best grapplers in women’s MMA. Rodriguez loves a Muay Thai clinch, and throws great elbows and knees and is also busy off her back as she showed against Esparza. Ribas is one of the best on the ground though with phenomenal jiu-jitsu, and if she gets the fight to the ground she will win this bout. Ultimately I think she will, but it will likely be closer than it looks on the odds.
PICK – Amanda Ribas via Submission, Round 2

Matt Frevola (8-1-1) vs Ottman Azaitar (13-0) – (Lightweight/155lbs)

Another fun lightweight fight on a card made to shine a light on the division, as Matt Frevola makes a return after missing all of 2020 to take on Morocco’s Ottman Azaitar.

Frevola beat Jalin Turner and Luis Pena in 2019, while Azaitar knocked out both Teemu Packalen in 2019 and then Khama Worthy in the first round in Vegas after just 93 seconds. Frevola is a wrestler, who will look to take you down and control from the top while Azaitar is an undefeated striker with tremendous power.

Azaitar’s wrestling isn’t bad, but it’s not as good as Frevola’s. That said, Frevola isn’t the type to strike fear into your heart if he shoots on you. Azaitar should feel confident if he takes the centre of the cage that he will be able to land heavy shots as Frevola tries to close the distance and get a knockout win.
PICK – Ottman Azaitar via Knockout, Round 1

Andrew Sanchez (13-5) vs Makhmud Muradov (24-6) – (Middleweight/185lbs)

A fun fight between two middleweights as former Ultimate Fighter winner Sanchez takes on ‘The Money Team’s’ first MMA fighter, Makhmud Muradov.

Sanchez has won three of his last four, with the defeat coming to Marvin Vettori, before bouncing back with a first round knockout win over Wellington Turman. Muradov is on a 13-fight win streak including wins in his first two UFC fights against Alessio Di Chirico and Trevor Smith back in 2019.

Sanchez is very well rounded, with great wrestling and steady striking, while Muradov is one of the better boxers we’ve seen in MMA. 16 knockout wins in his career show the power he possesses, but his footwork is excellent too and he has the striking edge. It’s a classic clash of styles and we’ve not seen Muradov’s ground game just yet. Sanchez has decided to start striking in his recent fights and if he does that here he’s going to sleep, especially with his cardio issues.
PICK – Makhmud Muradov via Knockout, Round 2

Jessica Eye (15-8) vs Joanne Calderwood (14-5) – (Flyweight/125lbs)

An interesting flyweight fight between two women who want to get back up to the top of the 125lbs division after suffering two losses in their last three fights.

Eye got head kicked into a different stratosphere when she fought Valentina Shevchenko for the title, before bouncing back for a win over Viviane Araujo but then lost her main event against Cynthia Calvillo back in June. Calderwood was preparing for a title shot with ‘Bullet’ but got tired of waiting and took a short notice fight with Jennifer Maia, but lost the fight and her future title shot via first round armbar.

It’s a tight bout between the two, with both women preferring the stand up game to grappling and they’ll play into that with each other. It really is all about who’s more on point on the night, and I think Calderwood has looked better in her recent bouts so will be able to claim a decision win.
PICK – Joanne Calderwood via Decision

Dan Hooker (20-9) vs Michael Chandler (21-5) – (Lightweight/155lbs)

A huge fight at the top of the lightweight division as ‘Hangman’ Hooker takes on ‘Iron’ Michael Chandler.

Hooker has established himself as one of the best lightweights in the world, although he lost his last fight to Dustin Poirier back in June. Prior to that he did beat Paul Felder in a split decision war, Al Iaquinta in a wide decision and KO’d James Vick. Chandler has come over from Bellator after winning their lightweight title three times and comes after consecutive wins over Sidney Outlaw and Benson Henderson.

Chandler has been chinny in his past, as he showed when he was knocked out in the first round by featherweight champ Patricio ‘Pitbull’ Freire in Bellator. Hooker has a crazy power advantage on the feet but Chandler is a crazy good wrestler. He will look for a takedown quickly and if he gets it, he will have control of the fight. That said, I don’t think he can withstand the power of Hooker. Hooker’s footwork is superb, he has power with both hands and he has a big range advantage so I think he gets a stoppage win catching Chandler on the way in for a takedown.
PICK – Dan Hooker via Knockout, Round 2

Dustin Poirier (26-6 1NC) vs Conor McGregor (22-4) – (Lightweight/155lbs)

The return of the Notorious one to the UFC is of course a big deal, but the fact he’s fighting Dustin Poirier makes it even better.

Both men lost to Khabib Nurmagomedov before bouncing back with impressive wins, as Poirier defeated Dan Hooker in a fight of the year contender, while McGregor returned and demolished Donald Cerrone in just 40 seconds last January.

Both men are phenomenal strikers, with a left hand of dreams. McGregor of course knocked Poirier out in just 106 seconds in their first meeting at featherweight back in 2014 but this is a different fight. Both guys are more mature fighters now and much smarter, while Poirier is much more durable at 155lbs. It’s a fight of two halves if you will, with McGregor almost certainly more dangerous in the first two rounds. He’s had conditioning issues in the past and if Poirier can stay in the fight past that point he will likely take over.

With that said both men are still dangerous throughout the entirety of the bout but I do think McGregor can get it done. He still has knockout power, he’s quick, strong and he can take a shot himself. Poirier will look to drag it into the later rounds and turn the pace up but I think McGregor gets a huge win to really announce himself back in the lightweight division.
PICK – Conor McGregor via Knockout, Round 2

Dustin Poirier isn’t just here to make up the numbers

UFC 257, the return of Conor McGregor. All the promo, all the hype and all the attention has been on the Notorious one and that’s probably fair.

He’s the biggest star in the history of the sport and is one of the best in the world when it comes to actually fighting in the octagon. The attention is warranted, but definitely shouldn’t be one sided.

On the other side of the cage will be Dustin Poirier. A former interim world champion at lightweight who has won ten of his 13 fights at 155lbs, Poirier is one of the best boxers in the sport with fantastic power in both hands and good grappling skills.

The two fought previously six years ago at featherweight, where McGregor stopped Poirier in the first round with a big shot that landed just behind the ear.

He has promised to do the same thing again this time around, but Poirier is a completely different fighter now.

For a start, this fight is at a more natural weight class for both fighters. We’ve seen Poirier develop a more durable chin since that fight, and he’s only been knocked out once ever in the division. He’s fought some of the best strikers since his move up in Justin Gaethje, Max Holloway and Dan Hooker and yet he’s beaten them all with powerful striking on display.

He’s a great pocket fighter, with fantastic footwork and a left hand that could put anyone to sleep if it lands flush.

This is not your typical superstar return fight, where they get a tune up and walk through someone. Dustin Poirier is not someone who lets occasions get to him like Donald Cerrone, he is a prize fighter.

He’s felt Conor’s power before and has improved ten-fold since that fight. The fact that people are overlooking him is scary, because there is arguably nobody in the division that can go toe-to-toe with Conor on the feet other than Poirier and Gaethje.

He’s got knockout power, he’s got grappling skills that he can lean on if he is in trouble on the feet against McGregor and he’s shown in the fights against Holloway and Hooker in particular that he can go the distance giving and taking huge shots in the process.

McGregor has a window in the opening two rounds where his power is at it’s best and he’s at his slickest, but after that we’ve seen countless times that his cardio is his biggest deficiency.

If Poirier gets the chance to apply pressure going into those rounds then he will cause big, big problems. I expect some leg kicks early from Poirier to avoid the power shows of Conor before he starts working the body and firing his power left-hand.

McGregor is the favourite and based off their last fight against each other it’s no surprise, but Poirier is not there to just make up the numbers. He is a world championship level fighter and will pose a huge threat on the night.

If I have a word of advice for Saturday night’s UFC 257 main event, it’s don’t sleep on the Diamond.

UFC 257: Poirier vs McGregor – Prelims Predictions

A swift return to action for the UFC as the final instalment of their Fight Island triple header is upon us, with Dustin Poirier taking on Conor McGregor in a lightweight eliminator.

A rematch from six years prior, both men look to put their stamp to a claim to be the next challenger for the 155lbs championship while in the co-main event, two other lightweight contenders scrap to do the same thing. Michael Chandler makes his UFC debut after signing from Bellator to take on Dan Hooker, with both men knowing that a win puts them firmly in the conversation for the next title shot.

A fun 11 fight card is on the horizon here, with plenty of good fights on the undercard to come before the two big bouts of the night.

Last time out at UFC Fight Island 8, we went 12/14 with our picks with four perfect picks to boost us up to 212/327 (64.83%) with 93 perfect picks (43.87%) since starting our picks back in June 2020.

We’ll look to improve that record here, starting with the six prelim bouts.

PRELIMS

Amir Albazi (13-1) vs Zhalgas Zhumagulov (13-4) – (Flyweight/125lbs)

Both these men had differing debut experiences in the UFC on Fight Island last year and now meet together in the card opener.

Albazi won his debut with a first round submission over Malcolm Gordon, while Zhumagulov was beaten rather controversially in a unanimous decision defeat to Raulian Paiva. Zhumagulov is a tidy striker, throwing lots of one-twos but also with strong wrestling skills. Albazi is also a tidy striker but he has supreme submission skills from his back and even moreso from top position.

It’s a well contested fight with two relatively evenly-matched fighters. On the feet they’re almost identical in technique and execution and on the ground I give the edge to Albazi so I think he’ll be able to take a tight decision win.
PICK – Amir Albazi via Decision

Nik Lentz (30-11-2) vs Movsar Evloev (13-0) – (Catchweight/150lbs)

UFC Veteran Nik Lentz returns to the octagon for the first time in a year to take on an undefeated Russian in Movsar Evloev, who steps in on short notice to take this.

Lentz has lost his last two, being knocked out by Charles Oliveira in 2019 before dropping a decision to Arnold Allen in January 2020. Evloev is undefeated and 3-0 in the UFC, with wins over Seung Woo Choi, Enrique Barzola and Mike Grundy on Fight Island last year. Lentz is a solid grappler who has some striking power, but Evloev is a well-rounded stud who holds the advantage everywhere in this fight.

This should be a pretty one-sided fight, with Evloev just a level above Lentz. His wrestling will see him take the top position at some point and control for 15 minutes for a lopsided win.
PICK – Movsar Evloev via Decision

Khalil Rountree Jr (9-4) vs Marcin Prachnio (13-5) – (Light Heavyweight/205lbs)

A return to the octagon after over a year away for Khalil Rountree as he takes on ‘Polish power V2’ in Marcin Prachnio.

Rountree turned in a fantastic performance to beat Eryk Anders in April 2019, before dropping a first round KO to Ion Cutelaba last time out. Prachnio came into the UFC in great nick, but has been knocked out in the first round of all three of his UFC fights so far including most recently against Mike Rodriguez in August 2020.

Rountree’s trip to Thailand has turned his style on it’s head, and he’s a great power puncher with speed and accuracy. Prachnio comes forward looking for the knockout but it just doesn’t seem to work in the UFC. His karate style likes to see him stay at range but Rountree’s speed and power should be enough to see him get another win.
PICK – Khalil Rountree Jr via Knockout, Round 1

Juliana Pena (10-4) vs Sara McMann (12-5) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)

Juliana Pena returns to the octagon having lost two of her last three fights to take on 40-year-old Sara McMann in the women’s bantamweight division.

Pena’s last win came against Nicco Montano in July 2019, but that was sandwiched between losses to Valentina Shevchenko and Germaine De Randamie. McMann has also lost two of her last three, but she returned after almost two years out to get a decision win over Lina Lansberg last time out.

Both these women will look to take the fight to the ground with striking neither of their strong suits, with McMann a strong wrestler while Pena is a black-belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu. It’s all about who ends up on the top in this one and the wrestling advantage gives McMann the edge in that, so she has the best chance of winning.
PICK – Sara McMann via Decision

Brad Tavares (17-7) vs Antonio Carlos Junior (11-4) – (Middleweight/185lbs)

An interesting middleweight scrap between two prospects at 185lbs. Tavares has lost his last two fights, losing to champion Israel Adesanya back in 2018 before losing to Edmen Shahbazyan in November 2019 via first round knockout. ‘Shoeface’ is in the same boat too, losing his last two to Ian Heinisch and Uriah Hall in September 2019.

Both men have not looked good in their most recent fights but have taken a long time away from the sport recently. Tavares has a good striking background while Shoeface has some of the strangest striking techniques you’ll ever see, but is a very good grappler. He has a huge jiu-jitsu advantage and with the grappling advantage too, I think Tavares taps out for the first time in his career.
PICK – Antonio Carlos Junior via Submission, Round 2

Arman Tsarukyan (15-2) vs Nasrat Haqparast (12-3) – (Lightweight/155lbs)

A sleeper for fight of the night after the top two fights on the card, these two lightweights look to steal the show on a card where their division is in the limelight.

Tsarukyan has won his last two in a row in the UFC, with decision wins over Olivier Aubin-Mercier and Davi Ramos last year on Fight Island, while ‘Baby Gastelum’ Haqparast bounced back from a first round knockout loss to Drew Dober with a decision win over Alex Munoz in August.

Haqparasr is a really good boxer with good footwork and a great jab, but also strong takedown defence too with over 80% success rate in his UFC career. Tsarukyan is another good striker but he has tremendous takedowns and chain wrestling. He’s also a tidy striker on his own, but his game plan is almost always to strike until the opportunity presents itself to get the takedown. It all hangs on whether Haqparast can keep it standing and I’m not so confident he will this time around.
PICK – Arman Tsarukyan via Decision

Michael Chandler will fight Dan Hooker at UFC 257 in UFC debut

Michael Chandler will make his UFC debut in a co-main event clash against Dan Hooker at UFC 257, the organisation have confirmed.

Chandler signed from Bellator MMA during the summer of 2020 and served as the back-up for the lightweight title fight between Khabib Nurmagomedov and Justin Gaethje at UFC 254 in October.

He made weight successfully but wasn’t needed as both men also weighed in under the limit. He was expected to fight at some point before the end of the year, with Tony Ferguson and Dustin Poirier linked as potential opponents.

It was decided however that the notice was too short for Chandler to make the weight and instead Poirier was matched up with Conor McGregor in the main event of UFC 257, while Ferguson fought Charles Oliveira at UFC 256.

Hooker’s last fight was a fight of the year contender back in June, when he fought Poirier in a five-round war but was defeated in a unanimous decision.

Prior to that, Hooker had won three fights in a row including a knockout over James Vick and decisions over Al Iaquinta and Paul Felder.

Chandler was a three time lightweight champion at Bellator and left the company on a two-fight win streak, beating both Sidney Outlaw and Benson Henderson via first round knockout.

It should be a very good fight between the two 155lbers, with both men preferring to stay in striking range and use their hands and kicks but it’s hard to say if Chandler has fought anyone as good as Hooker before.

The Australian has shown a level of durability that not many fighters have in his last two fights, withstanding the power of Poirier and firing back with hard strikes of his own.

Chandler is powerful himself but he has been knocked out three times before, including most recently by Patricio ‘Pitbull’ Freire. Freire is a natural featherweight, who while powerful, isn’t big. Hooker is a big lightweight who has great hands, a range advantage and excellent, chopping leg kicks.

It should be a true fire fight that fans will love as a final warm-up act before the main event between the ‘Diamond’ and the ‘Notorious’. Winner faces the winner?

UFC Announce Triple Header on Fight Island to Start 2021

The UFC will return to Fight Island for it’s first three events of 2021 as president Dana White officially announced a triple-header in Abu Dhabi.

After UFC Vegas 17 last weekend, the UFC is currently on a four-week break from events over the holiday period but has now announced the three headline fights for the first three events – with all of them to take part on Fight Island in January.

First off Max Holloway makes his return to the octagon for the first time since his controversial decision loss to Alex Volkanovski back on Fight Island in July, when he takes on featherweight contender Calvin Kattar on January 16th.

Following that, on Wednesday January 20th, Leon Edwards and Khamzat Chimaev will finally meet for their much anticipated scrap in the welterweight division. The two were supposed to face off on December 19th, but the bout was cancelled following a positive COVID-19 test for both fighters.

The week-long extravaganza will end with a huge lightweight bout, as Dustin Poirier takes on Conor McGregor in a rematch six years in the making. The two previously met in the featherweight division, with the Notorious one winning via first round knockout.

The announcement signals a huge start to the year, with all three fights highly anticipated by fans and media alike with some of the biggest names in the sport right now taking part.

The UFC are hopeful of being able to have some fans in attendance too, with White previously stating that the company were hoping to make it an ‘international fight week’ type of event to make up for lost time in 2020.

All three fights have potential title implications too. Holloway wants a rematch for his UFC title bout against Volkanovski, after many people scored their initial rematch in his favour. Despite that, the judges gave it to the Australian and he is keen to move on to new challenges.

A win for the Hawaiian though could make another bout between them inevitable, if Volkanovski can get past Brian Ortega in his next defence in early 2021.

If Kattar can get a second win on Fight Island though, following his classy win over Dan Ige in July, then he will prove that he belongs among the elite of the featherweight division and could end ‘Blessed’s hopes of another title shot any time soon.

The welterweight bout between Edwards and Chimaev is a battle between the underrated contender against the new, shiny toy in the company. Edwards is on an eight-fight win streak and has beaten the likes of Donald Cerrone and Rafael Dos Anjos en route to becoming the number three ranked fighter.

Chimaev on the other hand has run through his three opponents with ease and has created a hype train that got himself into title contention despite not even being ranked until recently. Now at number 15, a win would shoot him into the top three and almost certainly make the UFC consider placing him against the winner of Kamaru Usman and Gilbert Burns.

After Khabib Nurmagomedov’s retirement following UFC 254, many expected the bout between Poirier and McGregor to be for the vacant title. Since then though, there is talk that Khabib could return and he is scheduled for talks with White in Abu Dhabi.

The winner of this bout will feel they are the rightful number one contender for the lightweight title, but with Khabib having defeated both in title fights via submission already it’s unknown whether those rematches could happen. If Khabib returns, it’ll be interesting but if he opts not to return then the winner could soon see an opportunity to have gold around their waist once again.

Conor McGregor Accepts UFC Offer To Fight Dustin Poirier – On One Condition

The return of the Notorious one might just be closer than we think.

On Thursday night Conor McGregor took to Twitter once again to respond to a message from Dustin Poirier where he revealed that he has accepted an offer from the UFC to fight Poirier, but with one condition.

While no details of the offer were revealed, McGregor declared that he had told the UFC brass he wants a 2020 date to fight and claimed he was ready to step in for either of the November or December PPV events which recently fell apart.

Poirier responded with positivity, claiming he was also ready and was hopeful that they could ‘get it worked out.’ Dana White had previously ‘guaranteed’ that McGregor wouldn’t fight again in 2020 but his word will be tested now.

McGregor had publicly challenged Poirier to a charity event to help towards ‘The Diamond’ charity The Good Fight. He had promised to donate $500,000 of any proceeds to the cause and has confirmed his plans to follow through with that donation even if the fight happens in the UFC rather than on their own terms in an exhibition fight.

The two have fought before, when both men were in the featherweight division and McGregor scored the TKO win in the first round after a left hand to the temple dropped Poirier. At that point, he had the most wins and knockouts in featherweight history and McGregor made short work of him en route to a record-breaking title fight with Jose Aldo just over a year later.

Since then, McGregor has gone on to break all sorts of records including becoming the first ‘double-champ’ in UFC history when he beat Eddie Alvarez to claim the lightweight title. Poirier himself has held interim gold in the 155lbs division, although he suffered a similar fate to that of McGregor when he took on Khabib Nurmagomedov as he was choked out with a rear-naked choke.

A fight between the two would almost certainly get plenty of attention in the lightweight title picture and would obviously draw plenty of money with McGregor on the card. One issue for the UFC would be that with no fans, they would almost certainly make less than normal on a Conor card but it may have to be a hit they’re willing to take to get this fight done.

With November’s UFC 255 losing Cody Garbrandt from the main event, the UFC moved quickly to replace him with Alex Perez. More likely is UFC 256 on December 12th, conveniently also the scheduled date for McGregor and Poirier’s charity fight, where Kamaru Usman was forced to pull out of his title fight with Gilbert Burns due to injury.

Whenever it happens, it’s clear as day that Conor McGregor is very serious about a return to the octagon and getting his ‘season’ completed one way or another to get another crack at Khabib and the lightweight title.

Dana White Announces Plans For End Of 2020 and 2021 PPV Cards

The UFC have settled on main events for all their pay-per-view cards through 2020 and into January 2021 according to president Dana White.

With UFC 253 headlined by Israel Adesanya and Paulo Costa for the middleweight title and Dominick Reyes vs Jan Blachowicz for the vacant light heavyweight title, UFC 254 is set to be the card of the year in October. Scheduled to be headlined by Khabib Nurmagomedov vs Justin Gaethje, there are due to be several other high profile fights on the card including Tony Ferguson vs Dustin Poirier. UFC 255 is due to be headlined by a title double-header when Deiveson Figueiredo takes on Cody Garbrandt for the flyweight championship and Valentina Shevchenko defends her flyweight title against Jennifer Maia.

Up to now December’s UFC 256 card was unannounced but the headliners have now been confirmed. Women’s G.O.A.T Amanda Nunes will defend her featherweight championship against Meagan Anderson while Gilbert Burns will finally get his shot at the welterweight champion Kamaru Usman following the collapse of their bout on Fight Island at UFC 251.

That will likely be followed up by the hotly anticipated rematch for the BMF title between Jorge Masvidal and Nate Diaz. According to reports by TMZ which were later confirmed by Dana White, the plan currently is for the two to meet again at welterweight after their first bout ended due to doctors stoppage between rounds for a cut above Diaz’s eye. Despite Diaz being more than willing to continue, the doctor refused and the referee waved the fight off handing Masvidal a TKO win. Both fighters stated in their post-fight octagon interviews that they intended to ‘run it back’ sooner rather than later and this would be Diaz’s first fight since with Masvidal’s only bout since being a short-notice title fight against Kamaru Usman at UFC 251.

A rematch between the two isn’t really necessary considering the way the first bout went, but the numbers were huge for the company and a big pay-day is what both fighters are after at the moment before anything else. This gets everyone on board, casual fans are interested again and it keeps the division moving going forward.

As for the title fight between Usman and Burns, it’s unfinished business from UFC 251 with the two teammates going at it. Usman will continue to be the favourite going into the bout but Burns poses a real threat going forward with power and he has a great ground game which could make Usman think twice about taking him down to the mat.

With many sports beginning to plan for fans to return to spectate their events, it’s unknown what the UFC are expecting. Once bans are lifted and business goes back to normal, the UFC seem to be stacking their PPV cards a little bit more than normal in the hope they will be able to put tickets on sale at short notice and still sell out regardless of where they are.

The rest of the year and now the beginning of next year looks stacked for the UFC and with plenty of big fights aside from the main events and pay-per-views the MMA world looks a lot of fun to be a part of right now.