UFC 264: McGregor vs. Poirier 3 Odds, Predictions and Pre-Weigh-in Hype

Alex Ballentine@Ballentine_AlexFeatured ColumnistJuly 8, 2021

UFC 264: McGregor vs. Poirier 3 Odds, Predictions and Pre-Weigh-in Hype

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    Conor McGregor and Dustin Poirier are knotted up at one apiece after two fights. They will settle the record once and for all in the main event of UFC 264 from T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas on Saturday.

    McGregor drew first blood in their rivalry in 2014 with a first-round knockout when both fighters were ascending through the ranks. Poirier exacted his revenge with a second-round TKO win over the Notorious in January.

    Anytime McGregor puts on the gloves it's a massive event in the MMA world. Finalizing a rivalry that has recently picked up some heat makes the spotlight brighter.

    Those on the undercard will hope to take advantage of that added attention. The co-main event features a welterweight fight between Stephen Thompson and Gilbert Burns. Tai Tuivasa and Greg Hardy also highlight the other main card action.

    Here's an early look at the entire lineup and the latest hype surrounding the biggest fights.

Fight Card, Schedule and Odds—July 10

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

    • Conor McGregor +110 (wager $100 to win $110) vs. Dustin Poirier -130 (wager $130 to win $100)
    • Gilbert Burns +135 vs. Stephen Thompson -155
    • Tai Tuivasa -130 vs. Greg Hardy +110
    • Irene Aldana -125 vs. Yana Kunitskaya +105
    • Sean O'Malley -900 vs. Kris Moutinho +600


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

    • Carlos Condit +160 vs. Max Griffin -190
    • Niko Price +130 vs. Michel Pereira -150
    • Ryan Hall +190 vs. Ilia Topuria -235
    • Trevin Giles +100 vs. Dricus Du Plessis -120


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

    • Jennifer Maia -180 vs. Jessica Eye +155
    • Omari Akhmedov +140 vs. Brad Tavares -160
    • Zhalgas Zhumagulov -320 vs. Jerome Rivera +250
    • Hu Yaozong +120 vs. Alen Amedovski -140

    Odds via DraftKings Sportsbook.

'Focused' McGregor Calling for Knockout

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    There was no doubt Dustin Poirier was the better fighter when he met Conor McGregor in the Octagon in January. His boxing was better, he had the leg kicks going against the former champion and was sharper in every aspect.

    McGregor's confidence hasn't been shaken, though. The Irishman believes he knows the adjustments he needs to make and expects the third fight to go a lot like the first.

    "I'm going to knock him out. Without question," he told Mike Bohn of Rolling Stone. "I'm the most dangerous I've ever been, I'm the most focused I've ever been. And I'm going to take him out. He won't have any way to deal with what I'm bringing on Saturday, and that's it."

    The 32-year-old's talk of focus may have some merit. After years of stretches of inactivity between fights, this is the first time he will fight twice in a calendar since 2016. Previous to that he was active, taking 2-3 fights a year.

    Getting right back into the cage could be an indication he has brought his attention back to MMA.

    Sometimes it's too late, though. Even a focused McGregor isn't guaranteed to put away Poirier. He got the better of his opponent last time around and has been more active over the past three years than his opponent.

    There's little reason to believe McGregor has figured out the Poirier puzzle until proven otherwise.

    Prediction: Poirier via third-round TKO.

Burns Hoping to Jump Back into Title Contention in Co-Main

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    Gilbert Burns climbed the mountain to a title shot in the welterweight division. That's a feat in itself. But Kamaru Usman promptly knocked him off the ledge with a third-round TKO win in February.

    There wasn't a whole lot in the first fight that would call for an immediate rematch, but Burns is hoping he can spark some interest with a strong performance against Stephen Thompson.

    Right now, it would appear that UFC President Dana White is set on putting together a Colby Covington rematch with Usman for the belt. But Burns knows that things can change with one performance.

    "I have to be careful of how I say this because I don't want to sound like I'm criticizing Dana," Burns said, per Kevin Iole of Yahoo Sports. "But he can say something, 'This guy is next,' but if you do something that gets his attention, he gets excited and he'll change [his mind]."

    The problem for Burns in this spot is that it's hard to put on an exciting performance against his opponent. Thompson's unorthodox karate style relies heavily upon countering his opponent. If Burns wants to press the action, it could be falling right into the trap Thompson is hoping for.

    Burns is undoubtedly a strong pressure fighter, but that also means openings for Thompson to exploit. If he's too eager to make an impression, that's where mistakes happen. And Thompson is great at capitalizing on them.

    Prediction: Thompson via decision.

Tuivasa Not Impressed by Hardy's Skills

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    Greg Hardy is eight fights into his UFC career just three years after making his MMA debut on Dana White's Contender Series in 2018.

    The former NFL defensive end has made strides with his technique, but he hasn't impressed his UFC 264 opponent, Tai Tuivasa.

    The Australian brawler understands that Hardy brings size to the equation. He's 6'5" and probably weighs well over the 265-pound limit on fight night, but as far as skills go, Bam Bam doesn't seem too concerned.

    "I don't think he's a fighter that brings anything really significant to the table other than the big frame," Tuivasa said, per Philip Ferraro of UFC.com. "But I'm fit. I have been working a lot on my fitness, and I think me fit is going to be a very hard day in the office for him."

    Who is in better shape could play a huge role in the bout. Both fighters have had their struggles with stamina in the past, so the fighter who conserves his energy the best will have an advantage.

    That being said, it isn't likely this fight is going the distance. Both fighters pride themselves on their power and finishing ability. However, Tuivasa is the much more polished striker. He brings a full repertoire of strikes, including strong leg kicks, that could be the difference.

    If he's patient early and starts chopping away at Hardy's lead leg, he could get a later finish.

    Prediction: Tuivasa via second-round TKO.


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