Tag: dustin poirier

PREVIEW | UFC 257: Poirier vs. McGregor – Full card and predictions

THE UFC’s first pay-per-view event of 2021 sees its biggest draw return to the octagon atop a stacked main card to be hosted at Etihad Arena in Abu Dhabi.

Fighters littered up and down the card will be keen to latch onto the attention garnered though the highly-anticipated main event, with plenty of statements to be made on the famed Fight Island.

>> SCROLL for the full card and predictions

Just over a year removed from his spectacular showing at UFC 246, ‘The Notorious’ Conor McGregor steps into the octagon for a second time against Dustin Poirier, but much has changed since their first meeting in 2014.

Both have gone on to claim UFC gold in the lightweight division but will be out to impress current title holder, Khabib Nurmagomedov and potentially earn rematches against the undefeated Dagestani champion.

They won’t be the only 155-pounders eager to claim their contendership status, with the co-main event pitting vicious New Zealand striker Dan Hooker against UFC newcomer Michael Chandler.

Hooker’s last bout saw him edged by Poirier in a five-round war, while Chandler has held brass in Bellator’s lightweight division and now makes the long-awaited move to MMA’s leading promotion.

Another title eliminator of sorts takes place as women’s flyweight contenders Jessica Eye and Joanne Calderwood lock horns, with both eager to climb back into the top five and claim challenger status.

Another women’s bout slots into the main card as Brazilian prospects Marina Rodriguez and Amanda Ribas do battle, both on hot streaks and holding the potential to rise steeply with an impressive outing.

A potential banger between two men with some of the best monikers going around rounds out the main card action, as Matt ‘The Steamrolla’ Frevola meets Ottman ‘Bulldozer’ Azaitar. The undefeated Azaitar has shown plenty during his short time in the UFC, but comes up against a tough Long Island favourite in this bout.

FULL CARD AND PREDICTIONS:

FOTN: Hooker vs. Chandler
POTN: McGregor, Ribas, Azaitar
Prelim banger: Arman Tsarukyan vs. Nasrat Haqparast

MAIN CARD

Lightweight | Dustin Poirier [2] vs. Conor McGregor [4]
Prediction: McGregor by T/KO

Lightweight | Dan Hooker [6] vs. Michael Chandler
Prediction: Chandler by decision

W. Flyweight | Jessica Eye [6] vs. Joanne Calderwood [7]
Prediction: Eye by decision

Lightweight | Matt Frevola vs. Ottman Azaitar
Prediction: Azaitar by T/KO

W. Strawweight | Marina Rodriguez [8] vs. Amanda Ribas [10]
Prediction: Ribas by submission

PRELIMINARY CARD

Lightweight | Arman Tsarukyan vs. Nasrat Haqparast
Prediction: Tsarukyan by decision

Middleweight | Brad Tavares [14] vs. Antonio Carlos Junior
Prediction: Tavares by T/KO

W. Bantamweight | Julianna Peña [7] vs. Sara McMann [9]
Prediction: McMann by decision

Light Heavyweight | Khalil Rountree Jr. vs. Marcin Prachnio
Prediction: Rountree Jr. by T/KO

EARLY PRELIMINARY CARD

Middleweight | Andrew Sanchez vs. Makhmud Muradov
Prediction: Muradov by T/KO

Catchweight (150lbs) | Nik Lentz vs. Movsar Evloev
Prediction: Evloev by decision

Flyweight | Amir Albazi [15] vs. Zhalgas Zhumagulov
Prediction: Albazi by submission

Image Credit: UFC – (Retrieved via) Main Event

State of Play: 10 UFC fights to book before the end of 2020

WITH over half the year already behind us and the leading mixed martial arts promotion back into the swing of things, we put on our matchmaking hat to bring you 10 fights the UFC should make before the end of 2020.

Having done the same before Conor McGregor famously head-kicked (or shouldered) the year off in style, we know there are plenty of variables to play out yet, but think these are the matchups which will take fans’ minds most off the shambles we are currently experiencing amid a global pandemic.

Note: The proposed fights are ordered by weight class, working down from heavyweight.

>> UFC Rankings
>> UFC Pound-for-pound

Heavyweight | Stipe Miocic [C]/Daniel Cormier [1] vs. Francis Ngannou [2]

No, we’re not already looking past the trilogy fight between Miocic and Cormier, pegged as the UFC 252 headliner in August, but this is rather a point to say that Ngannou deserves a second title shot. The scarily powerful Cameroonian has been on a tear since late-2018, embarking on a four-fight run of first round KO/TKO finishes. Of his victims, former champion Junior dos Santos lasted longest – 71 seconds.

The guy is nuts, but if his latest victory (a 20-second KO over Jairzinho Rozenstruik) is anything to go by, the questions surrounding his technique, maturity, and avenues to victory remain. Miocic managed to thwart Ngannou last time out to retain his heavyweight belt, and Cormier didn’t seem overly impressed by his wild combinations while on comms, but we’re sure the number two ranked fighter has a point to prove. He only needs one shot, and hopefully doesn’t have to wait too long to get the chance to land it.

Middleweight | Israel Adesanya [C] vs. Paulo Costa [2]

Has it been made yet or not? Many media outlets have gone with the story, but UFC president Dana White insists the dotted lines remained unsigned. Even before dispatching of Yoel Romero in one of the more forgettable title fights of all time, Adesanya’s most worthy next opponent has long been Costa. Injury has kept the Brazilian on the sidelines for a while, and he has made no secret of the fact he is chomping at the bit to be given a shot at UFC gold.

It is the fight that makes the most sense, despite the UFC bizarrely querying on social media whether the winner of Robert Whittaker and Darren Till‘s Fight Island bout should be next in line for a crack at ‘Stylebender’. In an interesting quirk, which only adds to the intrigue of the matchup, it would be only the second UFC title fight between two undefeated men since Rashad Evans took on Lyoto Machida at UFC 98 in 2009. Make it happen.

Middleweight | Robert Whittaker [2]/Darren Till [5] vs. Jack Hermansson [6]

This one has only piqued the interest of late, and promises to keep things moving at middleweight. While Whittaker and Till will have their focus firmly fixed on coming out on top in their bout at the weekend, Hermansson has already made it known that he has eyes on the winner.

It makes sense too, with ‘The Joker’ fresh off a first round submission victory over former interim title challenger, Kelvin Gastelum, while the remaining pair in question are arguably the most deserving title contenders after Costa (see above). Hermansson’s grappling prowess promises to test the two polished strikers, with both also boasting terrific takedown defence. A good test all-round, but with parts still moving.

Welterweight | Colby Covington [2] vs. Jorge Masvidal [4]

MMA fans have an almost perverse obsession with the old ‘friends-turned-enemies’ storyline, so this fight promises to give all you sickos a fix. After ‘Gamebred’ stepped in on late notice to challenge Kamaru Usman for the welterweight belt, his stocks are as high as ever, even in defeat. Covington has a lot less admires, including former teammate and best buddy, Masvidal, but is right up there with the world’s best 170-pound contenders.

Both now have a common defeat on their records, and it narrative aside, need to bounce back from those losses. With the likes of Gilbert Burns and Leon Edwards also looming as fresh and worthy adversaries for Usman, these two will need to again prove that they belong in the title conversation. Of course, they could be playing us all with an act, but we’d still like to see them go toe-to-toe.

Lightweight | Khabib Nurmagomedov [C] vs. Justin Gaethje [IC]

Arguably the fight which seems most certain on this list is the one to unify the lightweight championship. The only factor which could possibly derail the plan of Gaethje earning his shot at undisputed glory, and rightly so, is the unexpected passing of Khabib’s legendary father, Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov. While the champ deserves all the time in the world to mourn and get back on track, if he decides to do so, this bout has been pitched for UFC 253 in September. Gaethje has also been offered Conor McGregor in the meantime, but… no.

Lightweight | Dustin Poirier [2] vs. Tony Ferguson [3]

We’re all for keeping divisions moving, and what better way to produce the next lightweight contender than to have these two go at it. The two never produce boring fights, period, and have both been so close to the undisputed crown having held the interim strap at varying points in time. Remarkably, the perennial contenders have yet to meet in the octagon.

Poirier has made it clear that he wants either a big name or a title shot having edged Dan Hooker via decision last month, and Ferguson deserves the same treatment having only just had his 12-fight win streak broken by Gaethje in May. Of course, the pair could wait for the Khabib-Gaethje matchup to pan out, but the best way to stake your claim is always to add a big name to your resume. Fans will always yearn for Ferguson to fight Khabib, too, so this may provide an avenue to that bout at long last.

Featherweight | Brian Ortega [3] vs. Chan Sung Jung [4]

While these two seemed cordial in the build-up to their proposed bout in December of last year, it would be no surprise to hear them both quote Uncle Dana in saying the other “was never (their) friend”. Things turned sour between the pair after Ortega pulled out of that main event dig with a knee injury, and was only made worse after ‘T-City’ slapped up Zombie’s translator.

They have been going back-and-forth for a while now and, pandemic permitting, should settle the beef this year in what would be an incredible fight. The featherweight title was only recently put on the line, and Aussie champion Alexander Volkanovski needs a new number one contender. Both may thing they are worthy, but arguably remain a win off that honour alongside Zabit Magomedsharipov.

Bantamweight | Petr Yan [C] vs. Aljamain Sterling [2]

Alright, we understand if Yan wants to spend some time with his belt before even thinking of his first defence, but it seems as if the decision has already been made for him. The Russian himself even acknowledged Sterling as the clear, undeniable contender, and it would only makes sense to finally give ‘Funkmaster’ a well-earned shot at the belt. In reality, this should have been the matchup made at UFC 252 for the vacant title, but alas we may get to see it soon enough. Let’s have it, that 135-pound division is stacked.

Bantamweight | Cody Garbrandt [3] vs. Sean O’Malley [14]

We just told you the bantamweight division is stacked, and a matchup between these two would only confirm that. This potential bout already has some wheels, with the two indirectly going back-and-forth over social media. The former champion has been there and done that, but only now looks like returning to his former glory after a redemptive win over Raphael Assuncao last month. The undefeated ‘Suga’ Sean is fresh of an equally devastating KO victory on that same June night, and looks to be the next big thing among the 135-pound shark tank. The fans love it, and it seems both fighters will too.

W. Strawweight | Weili Zhang [C] vs Rose Namajunas [1]

Another fight which looks extremely likely to eventuate is that between these two strawweight queens. It’s the only female matchup on our list, but man is it a corker. Zhang is still riding the wave of her maiden title defence in what was a fight of the year contender against Joanna Jedrzejczyk, and has already acknowledged the skillset of ‘Thug’ Rose.

The respect is clearly mutual, with a rejuvenated Namajunas enjoying the sound of this billed fight for the 115-pound strap, right after her entertaining decision win over Jessica Andrade. While Rose is arguably the most well-rounded fighter in the division, Zhang is a scary-good athlete with enormous power – a factor which wore on Namajunas in her most recent bout. It makes for an interesting stylistic matchup, and one we’re so keen to see.

RESULTS | UFC Fight Night: Poirier vs. Hooker – Poirier takes out another FOTY contender

THE FINAL event hosted at the UFC Apex Centre before heading over to Fight Island delivered on action, headlined by an incredible main event bout between world class lightweights, Dustin Poirier and Dan Hooker. ‘The Diamond’ took home his fifth win in six fights after a lengthy layoff, capping a card which boasted six finishes; including four by third round submission and two via first round knockout.

‘Platinum’ Mike Perry was another to impress in his co-main event nod, with twists and turns as crazy as the man’s personality littered down an incredibly entertaining Fight Night.

>> SCROLL for the full results.

MAIN CARD

Dustin Poirier [3] def. Dan Hooker [5] | Decision (unanimous) 48-47, 48-47, 48-46

We are struggling to find the right words and superlatives to describe just how insane this fight was. Just trust us, it was nuts. The words of Dustin Poirier perhaps sum it up best; “a fight isn’t a fight until you’re forced to overcome something”. What a perfect look into the mindset of the former interim lightweight champ, who made an emphatic return to the octagon with a grinding decision victory over fifth-ranked contender, Dan Hooker.

It came on the back of the longest break of Poirier’s career, nearly 10 months removed from his title bout against Khabib Nurmagomedov. He was truly made to work, down two rounds to nil on all three judges’ scorecards despite throwing his all into putting Hooker away early. The longer, calmer New Zealander worked well to absorb Poirier’s punishing combinations while also chopping at the lead leg with nasty calf kicks.

The back and forth contest was fought at a crazy pace, with Poirier winging wild hooks with his back to the fence proving successful within boxing range, with Hooker desperate to find distance. A more methodical and much slower third round saw Hooker take Poirier down, but he fell right into the American’s patented guillotine and had to resist a triangle attempt to make it into the championship rounds.

While Hooker has proven time and time again that he is much more than just a kickboxer, Poirier showcased his superior diversity by faring better in grappling exchanges. Hooker would often initiate the wrestling with takedown attempts, but Poirier continued to turn out from bottom and snatch up guillotines to get back to his feet. Poirier took out the fourth round after landing a takedown of his own, trapping Hooker’s legs and looking for late submissions.

It was all on the line in Round 5 with the ledger locked at 2-2, and Poirier put his championship calibre skills on full display as he finished the much stronger fighter, picking off Hooker with single shots and resisting each takedown attempt with that defensive guillotine option. In a true show of grit, ‘The Diamond’ sent a message to his fellow 155-pound elites – he is here to stay.

We had it: 48-47 Poirier – a bunch of tight rounds but we can agree with the judges that Poirier finished the stronger of the two. Round 5 could have been a 10-8 to Poirier, with one judge instead opting for that exact score in the fourth.


Mike Perry def. Mickey Gall | Decision (unanimous) 29-28, 29-28, 29-28

No coaches, no problem. Mike Perry turned in a tremendous performance against Mickey Gall in their co-main event dig, taking out two rounds to one in all three judges’ scorecards. Cornered by his other half, Perry showcased confidence in his heavy hands, walking Gall down while also working his strong takedown defence, and dominating each grappling position.

There was no doubting that the two came to scrap, and Gall looked quite comfortable early with his longer, straight punches landing in exchanges on the feet. Gall’s early success may have seen him take out Round 1 despite a big slam from Perry, but the second and third periods belonged to the latter.

Perry landed takedowns of his own while remaining savvy to all of Gall’s transitions on the mat, he went very close to getting a finish after dropping his opponent with a couple of nicely placed right hands. He was simply the fresher fighter after three rounds and proved much more effective, improving his record to 14-6 with over four minutes of top control.


Maurice Greene def. Gian Villante | Submission (arm-triangle) 3:44 Rd 3

This one meant a lot to ‘The Crochet Boss’ Maurice Greene, who arrested a two-fight skid with his incredible clutch submission of heavyweight debutant, Gian Villante. While Greene could well have been up by two rounds, it seemed the fight was still up for grabs in Round 3, and Villante was running away with it having dropped the 6’7 American.

Villante’s corner lauded him to let his hands go after punishing Greene with leg kicks, while the latter pushed a decent pace throughout. Greene showed his heart after being skittled by a heavy counter left punch from Villante, followed by some mean ground-and-pound elbows which very nearly ended the fight.

But Villante seemed to have emptied the tank in searching for the finish, falling into an arm-triangle choke and tapping with just over a minute left in the bout. Exhaustion surely played a factor, with the submission from bottom coming somewhat as a surprise as Greene looked to simply be stalling in the position.


Brendan Allen def. Kyle Daukaus | Decision (unanimous) 29-28, 29-27, 30-27

Two Contender Series graduates with incredible grappling prowess put it all on the line in their main card slot, with Brendan Allen doing enough to get the nod over Kyle Daukaus after three brutal rounds of action. It was Allen’s seventh-straight win, and his third in the UFC.

Fans ultimately got what they were promised out of these two with some wonderfully technical exchanges on the mat, punishing ground-and-pound, and free-flowing submission work. While a finish was not achieved, Allen left the formerly undefeated prospect a bloody mess and earned a nice shiner of his own in the process.

While Daukaus looked more comfortable on the feet with his sharp boxing combinations, he was crumbled by a huge Allen knee up the middle in Round 1, who then looked to secure the neck before laying heavy ground-and-pound.

Daukaus seemed unfazed and returned to his boxing-to-wrestling gameplan in the second, but Allen’s ability to use the guillotine to reverse position and end up on top allowed him to again control proceedings. A shot slightly after the bell dropped Daukaus, who displayed incredible toughness in the face of a potential 10-8 period against him.

The third round arguably belonged to Daukaus, who dropped some big elbows of his own and threatened the rear-naked choke multiple times, but could not quite break down Allen’s defence. The latter eventually broke the body triangle late and finished with a flurry, escaping another potential 10-8 result – only this time, not in his favour.

We had it: 29-27 Allen – Allen takes Round 1 10-9 and the second 10-8, before relinquishing Round 3 10-9. He had done more than enough.


Takashi Sato def. Jason Witt | TKO (punches) 0:48 Rd 1

The night’s theme of short notice success ended via the straight left hand of Takashi Sato, as he took out late replacement Jason Witt within the first round. It was a swift display from the Japanese welterweight, who dropped Witt with a beautiful left hand to follow the jab, and chased his opponent down to the ground.

Witt seemed to still have his bearings about him as he looked to grab a single leg and recover on the mat, but Sato continued to head hunt and left the referee no choice but to save the American from some nasty ground-and-pound.


Julian Erosa def. Sean Woodson | Submission (D’Arce choke) 2:44 Rd 3

What a way to kick off the main card. Julian Erosa would not be denied in his late notice call-up to face formerly undefeated prospect Sean Woodson, eating everything the former boxer threw over 13 minutes to submit him via D’Arce choke in Round 3.

Woodson looked so impressive in the early goings, flowing in his striking game with quick, long shots and a range of looks to keep Arosa at distance. Lauded for his toughness, Erosa would continue to march forward through Woodson’s barrages, smothering his length and turning the tide with nice body shots in Round 2.

It was an odd fight to call, with plenty to be made of Erosa’s pressure and durability, but Woodson’s precision ultimately seeing him remain on top. Erosa ensured a call would not be required despite being dropped with a big left hand in the third, and jumped on his opportunity to sink in the decisive submission having constantly remained in Woodson’s face.

The win not only snapped a three-fight losing skid for Erosa, but also marked an incredible turnaround from being cut from the promotion, to clutching a return win on five days’ notice after looking down and out.

PRELIMINARY CARD

Khama Worthy def. Luis Pena | Submission (guillotine choke) 2:53 Rd 3

Talk about taking the judges out of the equation. Khama Worthy finished his tight three-round war with Luis Pena at the death, marking a seventh-straight win and his second in the UFC. A modified guillotine choke did the job against a worthy, educated grappler in Pena as he looked to chain his takedown attempts in Round 3.

The result was up in the air at that point, with Worthy arguably taking out Round 1, and Pena dominating Round 2. Worthy’s beautiful counter striking, punishing body kicks, and lingering right hand got him going early, but Pena reigned it back with a dominant five minutes of grappling in the second. Multiple submission attempts were survived by Worthy, and a question of cardio would arise in the deciding third round.

Worthy was up to the task though, getting that right hand to land once again and stuffing most of Pena’s entries before shrewdly taking advantage of his opponent’s position to lock up a tight choke.

Khama Note Worthy.


Tanner Boser def. Philipe Lins | KO (punches) 2:41 Rd 1

Tanner Boser put an exclamation mark on his return to the UFC winners list, viciously accounting for Philipe Lins in the first round. It was the Canadian’s ninth win via knockout and boy, was it mean.

Having initially impressed with his movement and accuracy on the feet, Boser landed his patented overhand right in a good spot to stun Lins. He pounced immediately to spell the end of the boutl; landing every shot in a quick and precise combination to send Lins to the mat, and following up with a brutal hammer fist for good measure.

It was the first KO of the night, and a belter at that. 


Kay Hansen def. Jinh Yu Frey | Submission (armbar) 2:26 Rd 3

The Ronda Rousey generation is here. 20-year-old Kay Hansen picked up a massive win in her maiden UFC bout, defeating fellow debutant and former Invicta atomweight champion, Jinh Yu Frey. It was only fitting that the win would come via armbar submission too, Rousey’s trademark move.

Frey, 15 years her opponent’s elder started the stronger of the two, able to lean on her experience and calmly pick off some nice counter left hooks as her fast hands got to work. She seemed to have answers in all departments until she was taken down and controlled in Round 2, with Hansen dominating from half guard.

The fight was up for grabs in the third, and Hansen kept her momentum rolling despite eating some more left hands for her trouble. While Frey repeatedly did well to remain upright from Hansen’s initial entries, the youngster’s chain grappling allowed her to spell the beginning of the end.

An improvised series of throw and trip attempts saw Hansen transition the move to an armbar position, rolling with Frey’s escapes and eventually being able to sit up with Frey on her back, and extend the arm to yield a tap. This was a big scalp on debut for the youngest female on the UFC roster, no doubt about it.


Youssef Zalal def. Jordan Griffin | Decision (unanimous) 29-28, 29-28, 29-28

Do judges score defence? That was somewhat a question which arose as Youssef Zalal got the unanimous nod over Jordan Griffin, pushing his record out to 9-2 with a third-consecutive victory.

The clear striking advantage belonged to Zalal, who picked off the better shots in the face of Griffin’s perennial forward movement and kickboxing combinations. The Moroccan was able to stuff nearly all of his opponent’s grappling advances, while looking the much fresher fighter in the late exchanges.

We had it: 29-28 Zalal – a close fight with two close rounds; we gave Griffin the first for his late takedown, but Zalal easily took the third and narrowly claimed Round 2.