How about that?! UFC 257 is in the books and Dustin Poirier evened the score by becoming the first man to knock Conor McGregor out in MMA, and he did it in such incredibly lethal fashion.
Poirier’s calf kicks were wreaking havoc on McGregor, and that proved pivotal in the end. Conor’s movement was hampered, Poirier was dodging the left hand more frequently in round two, and when he got into a groove there was no stopping him. “The Diamond” unleashed hell on earth and was drilling McGregor with heavy power shots until he crumbled. Round one went McGregor’s way, round two went Poirier’s way and then some. What a performance by one of the best fighters in the world and one of the most awesome dudes in all of MMA. McGregor’s chin I think was fine but his legs were not and that’s what doomed him.
This is the pinnacle moment for Poirier in terms of the spotlight. He lost to Khabib Nurmagomedov for the title but Conor McGregor represented a bigger payday (presumably) and a bigger card. He took Conor’s best shots and his gameplan was executed brilliantly versus the former champ-champ. As for what’s next for him? Well if Nurmagomedov stays away from the sport then surely Poirier vs. Michael Chandler for the vacant belt is the way to go. Either that or Poirier vs. Charles Oliveira. Dude needs an undisputed title shot next without question.
As for McGregor, who cited inactivity as one of the reasons he lost, I really don’t care what’s next for him. He says he’ll compete again in 2021 but I’ll believe it when I see it. He’s officially a 1-2 as a UFC lightweight. Maybe that Nate Diaz trilogy gets booked at long last. It’s Dustin Poirier’s night and I’d rather focus on that.
More thoughts below:
- WOW! Michael Chandler is known for his excellent right hand but it was the left hook that put Dan Hooker down. The former Bellator lightweight champion arrived in style and while I doubt Khabib Nurmagomedov has serious interest in returning to the Octagon to fight him, he has instantly made himself a title contender/challenger. And he cut himself one hell of a promo calling out everyone from Conor to Poirier to Khabib himself. DAMN! I’m still buzzing. You could not have asked for a better debut.
- As for Dan Hooker, he threw his gloves off and left them in the cage. I hope that was more a frustration thing than retirement, as he’s such an awesome fighter to watch. The frustration aspect combines the loss (which puts him out of title contention for a good while) with the fact that quarantine rules prevent him from returning to New Zealand for a month. He flew all the way to Abu Dhabi to suffer his first ever first-round loss. That’s rought.
- Joanne Calderwood put on one of her more impressive showings in her UFC career, as the Scotswoman took apart Jessica Eye in a high-paced, grueling unanimous decision that was more entertaining than expected. Given Calderwood let a title shot slip away in last year’s loss to Jennifer Maia, getting back in the win column was a must tonight and she did that. Another win or two and surely he’s in the hunt for her first title fight once more.
- Makhmud Muradov became the latest middleweight to knock Andrew Sanchez silly in the third round. A huge right hand had Sanchez doing some physical comedy like he was on roller skates, then Jason Herzog eventually stopped it standing when Andrew was getting blasted against the fence. Muradov is managed by Floyd Mayweather and so far, so good. He’s 3-0 inside the Octagon.
- ESPN’s servers broke in half and I missed Amanda Ribas vs. Marina Rodriguez. Through a quick trip overseas (wink, wink) I got to see the ending, which was stunning TKO by Rodriguez. Herb Dean decided Marina needed to beat the shit out of Ribas more before stopping it. That’s horrible hesitation and Ribas took unnecessary punishment. What an amazing upset by Rodriguez to hand Ribas her first UFC loss.
- Arman Tsarukyan got the shutout win over Matt Frevola in a fight made on a day’s notice thanks to Nasrat Haqparast’s botched weight cut and Ottman Azaitar’s stupidity. Tsarukyan did get cracked by Frevola late in round one but his wrestling and grappling are so damn good that it must be a miserable experience fighting him for 15 minutes. He’s still just 24 years old and has serious potential to contend at lightweight.
- Middleweight veteran Brad Tavares showed exemplary takedown defense against Antonio Carlos Junior and landed the better strikes on his way to a unanimous decision victory. Not exactly a banger but Tavares is the perfect gatekeeper at 185 lbs and he’ll be a tough our for most fighters.
- Sara McMann got off to a strong start against Julianna Pena, but as has been the case on a couple of occasions, the fight got away from her and she got submitted. Pena had the more effective offense in round two despite spending a good chunk of her time on her back, then she really turned the tide with a takedown of her own in round three and an eventual rear-naked choke. Pena called out Amanda Nunes and told her to quit ducking… okay.
- Marcin Prachnio and Khalil Rountree are known for knockouts and getting knocked out, so naturally this went the distance. Rountree did have Prachnio hurt in round two but never followed up and predictably gassed. Prachnio won with volume and got his first UFC win in four attempts.
- Movsar Evloev had to fend off a million guillotines from Nik Lentz, then he bloodied up Nik’s right eye on his way to a split decision win. I don’t know how you could give Lentz two rounds. At 4-0, Evloev certainly deserves a step up in competition at 145 lbs.
- Amir Albazi made it 2-0 in the UFC with a calm, measured unanimous decision over Zhalgas Zhumagulov in a competitive flyweight scrap. Albazi’s striking was impressive but it was his grappling in the third round that gave him the win.
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