The UFC’s Lightweight division’s next title challenger will come to the fore here as the Notorious Conor Mcgregor faces Dustin Poirier in a much-anticipated trilogy fight. UFC 264 comes out of T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada and despite being a pay-per-view with no title fight, it still will likely be the top grossing event of the year. In the co-main Stephen Thompson faces Gilbert Burns in a Welterweight title eliminator and fan favourite Sean O’Malley welcomes newcomer Kris Moutinho in a short notice fight. We take a look at three of our best selections, all on the UFC 264 main card below.
I never thought I would see McGregor as an underdog in a Lightweight fight to anyone other than Khabib but here we are. Dustin Poirier is quite easy to assess, he has sharp boxing, a solid takedown defense and a tendency to jump for a guillotine. He also has a reasonable ground game and a bottomless gas tank. Poirier executed a solid game plan in their last meeting which was built off of chopping leg kicks that were never checked by Conor almost arrogantly.
The leg kicks were so effective largely due to Conor’s change to a straight boxing stance, which I personally believe was due to training for the Poirier fight with a potential Manny Pacquiao fight after in mind. With a move back to a karate stance it will take the leg kicking largely out of the equation as they are both easier to check and don’t do as much damage in that stance. While one could argue that it will hinder McGregor’s left hand I disagree. It is that bouncing stance that leads opponents to charge in trying to get on the inside before getting caught with the check hook of McGregor. Look at the Aldo fight for example, the overreaction led to him being put out and it was also the case in the Alvarez fight.
If McGregor adopts this stance and goes back to an attack behind an array of kicks, he will come away with the win. The big question remains over his ability to go into the later rounds though as if he fades like he did in the Diaz fights, Poirier will without a doubt put him away. Expect McGregor to rise to the occasion though once again like he notoriously does, pick Poirier apart on the outside and catch him coming in, much to the elation of the roaring crowd and it might just be in the opening minutes…
Tai Tuivasa really is a modern-day Mark Hunt and it is no surprise since he learns largely under the guidance of the former UFC Heavyweight. Bam Bam has genuine knockout power coupled with an abysmal ground game. His opponent Greg Hardy is a much-maligned figure but simply beats bang average Heavyweights due to his raw athletic ability and loses to any which possess solid technique and ability. Lucky for Hardy, Tuivasa is very one dimensional, however, unlike any opponent that he has faced Bam Bam has the ability to put the American to sleep with one punch.
I think it would be wise for Hardy to take Tuivasa down as he will get picked apart at range by the Australian and if it goes to the ground can finish Tuivasa with ground and pound. Although I am not siding with anyone to win this, I do like the chances of it finishing by knockout. Neither man has a gas tank and both men hit like a truck. It may not be pretty, but it likely ends with one of them face down on the canvas.
I have made it my mission to tip Sean O’Malley every time he fights and that is because like him or hate him, he is one of the best and most creative strikers in the UFC. I also have watched O’Malley grapple plenty and he is honestly quite good. Suga would have made a mess of Louis Smolka and it angers me that the UFC won’t feed O’Malley a top five opponent as I truly think he has the tools to mount a serious title challenge. He is exceptionally good and people need to wake up to the fact that he is elite and is more than some bad trash talk and wacky hair.
His opponent here I honestly had to google as I had no idea who he was. My research found that I actually did know who he was but reinforced my thought that he is just a showreel highlight waiting to happen for O’Malley. Moutinho loves a fire fight which is sure to make an exciting fight but he also only beat a 6-6 professional opponent last time out. O’Malley will make an absolute mockery of him and although he is prohibitive odds, the $2.20 on offer for a round 1 knockout to me is overs. If you miss the fight don’t stress as the finish will be all over your socials.
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