Check out UFC 264 tips and previews for all five main card fights in Las Vegas, including the trilogy bout between Conor McGregor and Dustin Poirier.
- Poirier – 27-6 (13 by KO/TKO)
- McGregor – 22-5 (19 by KO/TKO)
- Poirier def McGregor – Rd 2 TKO @ UFC 257, January 2021
- McGregor def by Poirier – Rd 2 TKO @ UFC 257, January 2021
Analysis: Poirier v McGregor 3 headlines UFC 264 – less than six months after the octagon greats’ second showdown.
The pair first met at UFC 178 in 2014, McGregor winning by first-round TKO. But Poirier lost just two of his next 13 fights and stopped McGregor in the second round of their UFC 257 headliner in January with a barrage of punches.
‘Diamond’ Poirier was a $3.42 underdog but underlined his vastly improved skillset, power, patience and maturity with a comprehensive beatdown of the motor-mouthed McGregor. ‘The Notorious’ paid for his lack of ring-time, multiple retirements, weight class changes and pro boxing forays. It was his third loss in past six UFC fights – spread across almost five years.
This time around the rivals can’t be split in the head-to-head market. McGregor will likely need to finish Poirier early to get the W – something that hasn’t happened to ‘Diamond’ since his first-round KO loss to Michael Johnson in 2016. Poirier will aim to take McGregor, who hasn’t gone the distance since 2016, deeper into the contest.
A title challenge against UFC Lightweight Champion Charles Oliveira likely awaits the winner. Poirier is at his peak, while McGregor appears to be past his all-conquering best. Assuming he can avoid an early strike, Poirier holds the value in this even-money contest.
- Burns – 19-4 (6 by KO/TKO)
- Thompson – 16-4 (7 by KO/TKO)
- Burns def by Kamaru Usman – Rd 3 TKO @ UFC 258, February 2021
- Thompson def Geoff Neal – Unanimous Decision @ UFC Fight Night, December 2020
Analysis: The co-headline bout sees No.2-ranked welterweight contender Gilbert Burns take on No.4-ranked Stephen Thompson in the division lorded over by Kumaru Usman.
Burns’ six-fight winning streak – culminating in Performance of the Night victories over Demian Maia (TKO) and Tyron Woodley (UD) – came to an end with a Round 3 TKO loss to the undefeated Usman in February. The 34-year-old started strong with a few impressive strikes, but Usman controlled the contest thereafter.
UFC pundits regard Thompson as Usman’s biggest (only?) threat in the welterweight division at present. He has recovered from back-to-back losses to Darren Till (UD) and Anthony Pettis (KO) with consecutive decisions over Vicente Luque and Geoff Neal – though the latter bout in December was his only fight in the past 18 months.
The 38-year-old kickboxer also boasts a win over Jorge Masvidal and a draw and majority decision loss to then-champ Woodley on his résumé. ‘Wonderboy’ Thompson has enjoyed success against forward strikers and Burns will need to be patient to get the better of him.
Expect this to go the distance, but lean towards Burns in what should be a magnificent battle.
- Tuivasa – 11-3 (10 by KO/TKO)
- Hardy – 7-3 (6 by KO/TKO)
- Tuivasa def Harry Hunsucker – Rd 1 TKO @ UFC on ESPN, March 2021
- Hardy def by Marcin Tybura – Rd 2 TKO @ UFC Fight Night, December 2020
Analysis: Two heavyweights with footballing backgrounds lock horns in an intriguing bout, with Australian rugby league product Tai Tuivasa taking on former NFL star Greg Hardy.
After a string of three straight losses in 2018-19, ex-Sydney Roosters lower-grader Tuivasa has bounced back with some impressive post-COVID performances. The 28-year-old knocked out Stefan Struve late in the first round at UFC 254 in December, while he needed just 49 seconds to stop Harry Hunsucker in March.
Hardy was a defensive end for the Carolina Panthers and Dallas Cowboys. Changing tack from gridiron to MMA in 2018, the 32-year-old has a 7-3 record. He is coming off a second-round TKO loss to Marcin Tybura in December.
Despite proving himself as much more than a novelty, Hardy has lacked the polish in recent bouts to climb up the heavyweight ranks. ‘Bam Bam’ Tuivasa is arguably yet to reach his ceiling in the UFC and will be eager to seize this opportunity with plenty of eyes on this fight.
- Aldana – 12-6 (6 by KO/TKO)
- Kunitskaya – 14-5 (7 by KO/TKO)
- Aldana def by Holly Holm – Unanimous Decision @ UFC on ESPN, October 2020
- Kunitskaya def Ketlen Vieira – Unanimous Decision @ UFC Fight Night, February 2021
Analysis: Ranked as the fourth and fifth UFC women’s bantamweight contenders respectively, Irene Aldana and Yana Kunitskaya vie for the opportunity to move closer to a shot at dominant division champ Amanda Nunes.
Aldana has been out of action since October, when she lost by decision to former champ (and Ronda Rousey conqueror) Holly Holm. The 33-year-old Mexican has a strong reputation as a power puncher – best evidenced by her brutal Round 1 KO of Ketlen Vierira in her previous fight – but had few answers for Holm’s counterpunching and dominance on the ground.
Russian Kunitskaya has won four of her last five fights, including unanimous decisions against Julija Stoliarenko last August and Vieira in February. The 31-year-old has suffered TKO losses to Cris Cyborg and Aspen Ladd during her UFC tenure, however. Aldana should take the chance to finish this one early.
- O’Malley – 13-1 (9 by KO/TKO)
- Moutinho – 9-4 (3 by KO/TKO)
- O’Malley def Thomas Almeda – Rd 3 KO @ UFC 260, March 2021
- Moutinho def Andrew Salas – Rd 3 Submission @ CFFC 96, May 2021
Analysis: Sean O’Malley was scheduled to take on Louis Smolka in the main card opener, but Smolka withdrew last week. Kris Moutinho has been drafted in at short notice to make his UFC debut.
‘Sugar’ O’Malley is one of the most promising bantamweights in the UFC, crafting a 13-1 record and winning five of his six fights under the UFC banner. His last three wins have come back KO or TKO, each earning Performance of the Night honours.
O’Malley bounced back from his first career loss – a first-round TKO against Marlon Vera – with a third-round knockout of Thomas Almeida at UFC 260 in March.
Moutinho arrives from the CES MMA and CFFC ranks. After back-to-back losses to Tony Gravely and Johnny Campbell, he has won his last two against Ashiek Ajim (Rd 2 TKO) and Andrew Salas (Rd 3 submission). The latter bout was just six weeks ago.
O’Malley is talking up an extreme knockout and it seem only complacency will prevent him from chalking up an early stoppage.