UFC 264 Bettor's Guide to McGregor-Poirier 3 and More

Lyle Fitzsimmons@@fitzbitzFeatured ColumnistJuly 7, 2021

UFC 264 Bettor's Guide to McGregor-Poirier 3 and More

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    Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC

    What: UFC 264

    Where: Las Vegas, Nevada

    When: July 10

    How to Watch: ESPN+

    What's at Stake: Welcome back to the circus, MMA fans.

    The most recognizable face in combat sports gets back to his competitive happy place—an Octagon in front of a capacity crowd in the Las Vegas desert—to take part in the first trilogy of his 13-year pro career.

    Notorious Irish firebrand Conor McGregor gets back together with two-time foe Dustin Poirier in the main event atop the UFC 264 pay-per-view show from the T-Mobile Arena on Saturday night. 

    It's the first U.S. appearance for McGregor since January 2020.

    He stopped Poirier in one round in their first meeting seven years ago at UFC 178, but had the roles reversed when the Louisianan rallied from a rough start to finish him in Round 2 at UFC 257 in January.

    The show is the company's eighth PPV event of 2021 and will be broadcast live at 10 p.m. ET.

    McGregor-Poirier 3 headlines a 13-bout card that'll also include myriad up-and-comers, familiar veterans and others simply hoping to boost their profiles for the next time around. The B/R combat and gambling teams got together to assess how the fights are likely to go and where possibilities for profit might be found.

Conor McGregor vs. Dustin Poirier

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    Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC

    The first time, Poirier was overwhelmed by the moment.

    The second time, McGregor was chopped down to manageable size.

    Both have insisted the third time will end in their favor.

    So who's right?

    For numbers sake, the line-makers at DraftKings have installed the rematch winner as a -130 favorite to win the trilogy bout, meaning a $130 investment would bring back a $100 profit if he wins.

    McGregor, meanwhile, is listed at +108 and would return $108 for a $100 bet if an upset happens.

    Additional bets are also available for the fight, including winning methods and rounds for each man.

    For the record, the biggest profits would come from betting on a draw (+6600) or wagering that either man will win by a fifth-round submission (+5000).

    As for picking, it's difficult to erase the image of either previous result.

    McGregor was creative and persistent with his striking in the opener and finished his man in less than two minutes. Poirier, in the encore, handled the big shots much better at a heavier weight and used brutal kicks to the Irishman's legs to limit his foe's mobility and make him susceptible to decisive head strikes.

    The tiebreaker? McGregor has never lost two in a row.

    Regardless of how vulnerable he looked once Poirier was able to withstand his blows, the former two-division champ seems motivated to regain his swagger and position himself for another title run.

    Look for him to get shots in, avoid heavy replies and get to the finish line—just like Nate Diaz 2.

    Getting him at plus money is a bonus.

    The B/R Picks: McGregor (+108) and By Decision (+700)

Stephen Thompson vs. Gilbert Burns

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    Cooper Neill/Zuffa LLC

    The co-main event is a study in contrast.

    Recently beaten title challenger Gilbert Burns will try to make his opponent, former two-time challenger Stephen Thompson, uncomfortable with pressure and the prospect of getting things to the floor.

    Burns was stopped in three rounds by current champ Kamaru Usman in February.

    The 6'0" Thompson, meanwhile, is a standup kickboxing specialist who's won two straight bouts and earned performance bonuses in each. He met ex-welterweight champ Tyron Woodley at UFC 205 and 209, getting a draw in the first fight before dropping a majority decision in the rematch.

    The winner will likely be the fighter who can dictate where and how the fight ensues.

    Thompson is the pre-fight favorite of the DraftKings set, who've made him a -162 pick compared to Burns' status as a +130 underdog. Elsewhere on the docket, Thompson and Burns would return $1,200 and $1,400, respectively, for a bet on them to win the fight in Round 3.

    On the flip side, both fighters are minus propositions to win by decision.

    Our selection is based on how good Thompson, who's in superb shape at age 38, has looked in successive defeats of Vicente Luque at UFC 244 and Geoff Neal atop a Fight Night show in December.

    Take his peak form and match it with a 34-year-old Burns coming off a one-sided defeat and it spells a chance at an impressive win for the No. 4 man at 170 pounds.

    The B/R Picks: Thompson (-162) and By KO/TKO/DQ (+275)

Niko Price vs. Michel Pereira

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    Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC

    Buckle your seat belts, folks.

    There's about to be a car crash of a fight at 170 pounds.

    Fringe welterweight contenders Niko Price and Michel Pereira have combined for nine wins, and, even more importantly, seven performance bonuses in their 17 appearances in the UFC.

    So, though neither man is likely on Kamaru Usman's imminent radar, there's little reason to believe the meeting between the combative Floridian and dynamic Brazilian won't be a hot topic come Sunday.

    Price has gone the distance just once since making his Octagon debut in 2016 and Pereira has done so just twice since his own arrival two years ago. 

    The latter is a narrow -162 betting favorite at DraftKings while Price is listed at +130.

    Price's chaotic style is a mix of many means of violence, hence his "Hybrid" nickname. He's scored wins by both submissions and knockouts in his career and been beaten by both ways as well.

    Pereira is a black belt in both karate and Brazilian jiu-jitsu and has ended fights with punches, knees and chokes. He's not been finished in a UFC fight and it's Pereira's versatility and ability to inflict damage in many ways that gives him the edge over an equally frenetic, but less disciplined opponent.

    Go that way in advance and settle in for the fight of the night.

    The B/R Pick: Pereira (-162)

Worth a Shot!

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    Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

    If you've read this far, you're clearly into the concept of risk vs. reward. And while favorites are often a worthwhile option, a well-chosen underdog is a nice benefit, too. 

    Fortunately, this card isn't hurting for intriguing plus-side options. 

    Here are a few we'd suggest you take a look at:

    Greg Hardy: Yes/To Win By Decision (+350)

    We're not suggesting the ex-NFLer is a threat to Francis Ngannou or anyone else in the heavyweight top 15. He's made progress since debuting in MMA three years ago, but is still too limited in his attack and too short on three-round stamina to reach an elite level. Fortunately, he's matched with a similarly ceilinged foe in Australian import Tai Tuivasa. Expect early fireworks before it devolves into a gasping clinch-fest.

    Stephen Thompson: Win in Round 3 (+1200)

    Gilbert Burns is a perfectly respectable opponent and one who looked particularly strong in several fights leading up to a loss to Kamaru Usman in February. Meanwhile, Thompson has looked good himself in his last two fights since a five-fight skid that had yielded one win. It's the Usman result that sticks with us here, particularly with the chance at a $1,200 payout if Thompson gets it done in three, like the champ.

    Sean O'Malley: Win in Round 2 (+300)

    Let's get it straight, we're all in on Sean O'Malley and the "Sugar Show" that comes along with him. And we don't think there's much chance that he'll be upset by a guy plucked into the role of opponent less than two weeks before the opening salvo is fired. Still, Kris Moutinho is a fairly durable guy. He's been KO'd twice in 13 pro fights, but never in the first round. If he gets to 5:01, we'll take the payout.

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