By Nick DiNisco, UFC Analyst
The UFC’s first PPV of the year is set to begin with UFC 257, headlined by Irish superstar Conor McGregor. In a lightweight main event, McGregor returns to the octagon after a one-year absence and will be fighting Dustin Poirier in a rematch of their first bout in 2014.
In 2014, these fighters met as featherweights (145 lbs) in a scheduled three-round fight. “Mystic Mac” was born on this night as McGregor predicted a 1st round KO. It took less than two minutes for McGregor to come through with his prediction as he defeated Poirier via TKO (punches).
Saturday’s fight will be at lightweight (155 lbs) where Poirier has made an impressive run in recent years—winning 5 of his last 6 fights—with his only loss coming to arguably the greatest lightweight, Khabib Nurmagomedov. Dustin became the interim champion as well, after a dominant fight against Max Holloway. After losing to Nurmagomedov, Poirier bounced back with a potential fight-of-the-year candidate against Dan Hooker last June.
Meanwhile, Conor McGregor will make his return almost a year after his decisive win against Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone, where he defeated Cowboy in 40 seconds via TKO. Conor made it clear that he wanted 2020 to be a fighting year for him, but this did not come to fruition after multiple obstacles were not able to be hurdled, beginning with the COVID-19 pandemic. Here’s to 2021 bringing us the year of frequent Notorious fights.
Mike Brown, Dustin Poirier’s head coach, believes Dustin has a big advantage in conditioning and feels the longer this fight goes, the better it is for Poirier. Poirier has shown his durability and stamina in his fighting career as he has gone the distance many times.
Coach John Kavanaugh, McGregor’s head coach, agrees that Poirier has improved significantly since the last fight. Kavanaugh believes this fight could be similar to when McGregor defeated Eddie Alvarez to win the lightweight title. Kavanaugh explains that “There’s being hit, and then there’s being hit by Conor McGregor”.
The potential scenarios for both fighters with a victory are simple. The winner of this fight will fight for the Lightweight championship. With Nurmagomedov uncertain about his future, he told UFC president Dana White that he would defend his belt if any of these fighters do something “extraordinary” this weekend. So, the winner of this fight could potentially fight Khabib for the Lightweight title. Alternatively, the winner of the co-main event at UFC 257 between Dan Hooker and Michael Chandler, could be the next matchup.
This long awaited rematch has all the accolades to be a Fight of the year candidate. If Poirier can handle Conor’s pressure early we could have a great fight on our hands. I believe McGregor will be too much for Dustin—and a left hand will most likely be the strike that ends it—as I have McGregor by knockout in this rematch.
Official Las Vegas Odds (Via DraftKings)
Conor McGregor -280
Dustin Poirier +230
Conor McGregor KO/TKO -177
Date: Saturday, January 23
Location: Yas Island, Abu Dhabi
Time: Prelims begin at 8 p.m ET on ESPN, Main Card begins at 10 p.m ET on ESPN+ PPV