UFC 257 Fight Card: PPV Schedule, Odds, Predictions for McGregor vs. Poirier 2

Alex Ballentine@Ballentine_AlexFeatured ColumnistJanuary 23, 2021

UFC 257 Fight Card: PPV Schedule, Odds, Predictions for McGregor vs. Poirier 2

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    John Locher/Associated Press

    Conor McGregor returns to the UFC on Saturday for a rematch against Dustin Poirier that is sure to catch the attention of the sports world at UFC 257.

    The promotion's biggest draw has fought sparingly over the past several years—the last time he stepped into The Octagon was in January 2020.

    The rarity of a McGregor fight only brings more intrigue. It's a massive event when he is involved, and this one has the added element of being a rematch from his early days with the promotion.

    In September 2014, Notorious finished Poirier in under two minutes in his first appearance on a pay-per-view card. Both men have since evolved into even better fighters and moved to lightweight.

    The lightweight division will be in the spotlight, as that is where the co-main event is set to go down as well. Here's a look at the whole card and some last-minute predictions for the evening's proceedings.

Fight Card, Schedule and Odds

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    Mel Evans/Associated Press

    Main Card (ESPN+ PPV at 10 p.m. ET)

    • Conor McGregor -335 (bet $335 to win $100) vs. Dustin Poirier +275
    • Dan Hooker -134 vs. Michael Chandler +105
    • Joanne Calderwood -117 vs. Jessica Eye -105
    • Amanda Ribas -335 vs. Marina Rodriguez +250
    • Makhmud Muradov -143 vs. Andrew Sanchez +115

             

    Prelims (ESPN/ESPN+ at 8 p.m. ET)

    • Arman Tsarukyan vs. Matt Frevola
    • Brad Tavares -134  vs. Antonio Carlos Junior +105
    • Sara McMann -130 vs. Julianna Pena +105
    • Khalil Rountree -335 vs. Marcin Prachnio +250

              

    Early Prelims (UFC Fight Pass at 6:15 p.m. ET)

    • Movsar Evloev -560 vs. Nik Lentz +300
    • Zhalgas Zhumagulov -118 vs. Amir Albazi -106

    Odds via DraftKings Sportsbook.

Poirier Outlasts McGregor for Upset

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    Mahmoud Khaled/Associated Press

    Conor McGregor enters his latest UFC bout as a sizeable favorite. His profile is one of the reasons for that. There is no bigger star in the sport, and it makes sense that would shorten his odds as people flock to back the two-division champion.

    However, Poirier shouldn't be discounted.

    McGregor depends a lot on fast starts. He has plenty of first-round finishes, including a 40-second knockout of Donald Cerrone last time out. But assuming that he will sleep The Diamond in the same way he did six years ago is a bold assumption.

    The Irishman hits with more power than nearly everyone in the division, but it's worth noting that Poirier hasn't been knocked out since 2016. That's an eight-fight stretch that includes opponents such as Anthony Pettis, Justin Gaethje and Max Holloway.

    He was able to walk through clean shots from all of those guys and still get off enough offense of his own to win. Surviving the early rounds will be a tall task, as McGregor is among the most gifted strikers in the division. But if he can get the fight to the third round, that's where the tide could change.

    McGregor's fights rarely make it out of the second round. When they do, he's shown issues with his endurance, including his loss to Nurmagomedov and majority-decision win over Nate Diaz.

    Poirier is a powerful striker in his own right, and his loss to Nurmagomedov has little to do with how he matches up with McGregor. That's his only loss since 2016.

    The Diamond has outdueled every other opponent on the feet. If he can get the fight to the third round, it's rarely charted territory for McGregor, and we could be headed toward a major upset.

    Prediction: Poirier via decision.

Chandler Impresses in UFC Debut

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    Gregory Payan/Associated Press

    For years, Michael Chandler has been among the best fighters on the Bellator roster. Now the three-time champion will get to test his mettle against a top UFC lightweight in Dan Hooker.

    It's a great litmus test for what the 34-year-old will be able to do in his new home. Hooker had won three fights in a row before dropping a unanimous decision to Poirier in June. He's the perfect balance of legitimate problem in the division and upper-echelon title challenger.

    A win for Chandler would show he belongs in the latter group.

    At his best, Chandler is a well-rounded fighter who will rely on his Division I wrestling background while also boasting major power on the feet. He won his final two fights in Bellator by first-round knockout, but in December 2018 he also won a five-round decision over Brent Primus in a prime example of his ability to adapt to different scenarios.

    It wouldn't be surprising at all for him to go to his ground game in this one. Hooker is the taller and longer fighter who is adept at fighting behind his jab. However, he can be taken down, and grappling isn't his strong suit.

    There will be moments for both fighters on the feet, but every takedown Chandler can get swings the momentum in his favor.

    Prediction: Chandler via decision.

Eye Scores Decision Win over Calderwood

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    David Dermer/Associated Press

    The lead-in to the co-main event features a pair of ranked flyweights looking to get some momentum.

    Joanne Calderwood is the slight favorite but needs to bounce back. She's 1-2 in her past three fights, with the lone win a split decision over Andrea Lee. Her submission loss to Jennifer Maia doesn't tell us much about this matchup because Eye is much more prone to box than look for submissions.

    Eye hasn't been on a roll of late, either. She, too, has lost two of her past three, with the losses coming against Cynthia Calvillo and Valentina Shevchenko. The loss to Shevchenko doesn't tell us much. Everyone in the division is likely to lose to her. Same for Calvillo, who is a much bigger wrestling threat than Calderwood.

    Her win over Viviane Araujo is the most impressive of the recent fights. Araujo is a powerful striker, and Eye sufficiently neutralized that in picking up the win.

    Calderwood is not a power puncher by any stretch. Instead, she prefers to push a pace and utilize her quickness to get in and out of the pocket. Eye doesn't inspire much confidence with her power, either, but she is a former bantamweight who should be the bigger fighter and has shown improved wrestling as a flyweight.

    She should be able to mix up her wrestling and boxing enough to outpoint Calderwood in a close fight.

    Prediction: Eye via decision.

                   

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