UFC 264 Fight Card: PPV Schedule, Odds, Predictions for McGregor vs. Poirier 3

Alex Ballentine@Ballentine_AlexFeatured ColumnistJuly 10, 2021

UFC 264 Fight Card: PPV Schedule, Odds, Predictions for McGregor vs. Poirier 3

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    John Locher/Associated Press

    The hype is done, the weigh-ins are complete. The only thing left to do is for Conor McGregor and Dustin Poirier to settle their rivalry with a third matchup with the score tied at one apiece. 

    Poirier has the most recent win. He scored a second-round TKO over the Irishman in January after McGregor won their 2014 fight by first-round TKO. 

    There might not be a belt on the line, but the stakes are high. Poirier's first win over McGregor raised his profile. Back-to-back victories would push him into another level of stardom. McGregor has lost two of his last three fights, so dropping another one would leave his stock as low as it has been since his initial rise to fame. 

    As with every major fight card, there are some burning questions that will be answered Saturday night. With Stephen Thompson and Gilbert Burns set to serve as the co-main event, there are important bouts in both the lightweight and welterweight division. 

    Here's a look at the whole card with odds and a look at the biggest questions that will be answered. 

Fight Card, Schedule and Odds—July 10

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    John Locher/Associated Press

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

    • Conor McGregor +110 (wager $100 to win $110) vs. Dustin Poirier -139 (wager $139 to win $100)
    • Gilbert Burns +130 vs. Stephen Thompson -162
    • Tai Tuivasa -137 vs. Greg Hardy +110
    • Irene Aldana -124 vs. Yana Kunitskaya +100
    • Sean O'Malley -910 vs. Kris Moutinho +550

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

    • Carlos Condit +150 vs. Max Griffin -190
    • Niko Price +141 vs. Michel Pereira -177
    • Ryan Hall +185 vs. Ilia Topuria -235
    • Trevin Giles -106 vs. Dricus Du Plessis -118

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

    • Jennifer Maia -200 vs. Jessica Eye +162
    • Omari Akhmedov +142 vs. Brad Tavares -177
    • Zhalgas Zhumagulov -345 vs. Jerome Rivera +260
    • Hu Yaozong +110 vs. Alen Amedovski -136

    Odds via DraftKings Sportsbook.

Can McGregor Get Back to His Roots?

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    John Locher/Associated Press

    When Conor McGregor was making his way through the UFC, he was fighting two to three times a year and fully invested in selling his fights. Since 2016, he has fought once per year or less while pursuing boxing, marketing his own brand of whiskey and just being a celebrity in general. 

    In that span, he's 1-2, with his only win coming against Donald Cerrone. Part of that is the level of competition. Even the best version of McGregor would have had a hard time beating Khabib Nurmagomedov, and Poirier has become one of the top lightweights in the world. 

    But it's fair to wonder if McGregor's focus has been where it needs to be to win at this level. 

    That question will be answered Saturday night, as a win over Poirier would show that he's still able to fight at a championship level, even if it isn't for the belt. 

    It's a tall task, though. McGregor can make adjustments, and he certainly will try, but Poirier seemed to have him figured out by the second round when he scored the TKO win. 

    Even if McGregor put in a great training camp and is focused, we could still see a repeat of January's fight. 

    Prediction: Poirier via third-round TKO

Can Burns Figure out the Thompson Puzzle?

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    Handout/Getty Images

    In the co-main event, Gilbert Burns will make his first appearance since losing a title fight to Kamaru Usman. The loss snapped a six-fight win streak for the Brazilian that spanned back to 2018. 

    Any time a streak like that is broken, it is interesting to see how a fighter bounces back. Taking a loss like Burns did with Usman can do some damage to someone's confidence. 

    Stephen Thompson is not the best opponent for regaining confidence. He's a long, tall fighter who understands how to use his reach. His awkward karate stance changes the line of attacks that usually work, and his counters are reason for pause. 

    That doesn't bode well for Burns' forward style. He's at his best when he can lead the dance and force opponents into the cage. Thompson is comfortable fighting off the back foot and utilizes his jab and calf kicks to build up a lead on the scorecards. 

    In short, Burns is coming off a devastating loss and walking right into a tough matchup against a tricky opponent. 

    Prediction: Thompson via decision

Who Lands the First Bomb? Hardy or Tuivasa?

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    Icon Sportswire/Getty Images

    Greg Hardy and Tai Tuivasa aren't figuring into the heavyweight title picture, and they may not ever reach those heights. Yet here they are on one of the biggest cards of the year. 

    The spot might not make a whole lot of sense, but it is an undeniably fun fight. Hardy's physicality and frame have made him an interesting prospect since he came to MMA from the NFL. Tuivasa has a fan-friendly style and drinks beer from a shoe when he wins. 

    What's not to love?

    This is a true heavyweight brawl as both fighters fancy themselves as knockout artists. Hardy has picked up six of his seven wins by knockout. Tuivasa has finished in 10 of his 11 wins. 

    The result is going to be some heavy punches thrown, heavy breathing and an inevitable finish. The question is, who will land the knockout shot first?

    Both men have knockout power, but Tuivasa is the more polished of the two. Hardy's striking can still be centered on looping hooks and sloppy overhands, while the Australian brings a more complete arsenal to the table. 

    Prediction: Tuivasa via second-round TKO


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