Conor McGregor returns to the UFC octagon this Saturday night at UFC 264, and we only had to wait six months for him this time. Assuming he makes it into the cage this weekend, this will mark the first time since 2016 that McGregor has fought more than once in the UFC in a calendar year. Considering losing doesn’t sit well with him, I’m sure his loss to Dustin Poirier earlier this year hurried him back into the action.
The man who awaits him on Saturday night is the very same Dustin Poirier, the man who brutally TKO’d him at UFC 257 in January. While McGregor had his moments in that fight, a few reoccurring truths about him came to light once again. He doesn’t fight well when facing adversity, he tires easily (he’s generally good for about a round and a half before gassing out), and he fights poorly when his back is against the cage. Not to mention Poirier destroyed him with leg kicks in the first fight, making him a one-legged man in an ass kicking contest.
So, do I expect much to change in part three of this rivalry (McGregor won the initial matchup, way back in 2014)? Other than McGregor probably having somewhat of an answer to the leg kicks, no. Poirier proved he was a class above McGregor in January, and I expect the same on Saturday night. Dustin ‘The Diamond’ at
5/7 is my pick.
Wonderboy a Bad Matchup for Burns
I’m going chalk also in the co-main event, picking Stephen ‘Wonderboy’ Thompson at
4/7 over Gilbert Burns. This seems like a real bad matchup for Burns, who relies on his jiu-jitsu and heavy hands to win fights. Thompson is the king of maintaining distance while striking and is a strong defensive wrestler. I expect him to pick apart Burns from distance and maybe even pull off a highlight-worthy knockout. Next stop for him should be a title fight against the UFC Welterweight Champion Kamaru Usman, who he is also a difficult matchup for.
While I’m going with the favourites in the top two fights, there are quite a few underdogs I’m backing on Saturday night. Let’s start with the controversial ex-NFL star Greg Hardy. He’s coming in at
23/20 for his heavyweight battle against Tai Tuivasa. While Hardy isn’t without his flaws inside the cage, I like his big size advantage, world class athleticism, and power to make him a very live dog here.
Yana Kunitskaya looked fantastic last time in the cage and appears to be peaking as a fighter, so getting her at even money (
1/1) for her fight against Irene Aldana looks good to me. A win here could put her back into another title fight.
Multiple time Brazilian Jiu Jitsu champion Ryan Hall finally makes his return to the UFC cage on Saturday night, facing fellow grappler Ilia Topuria. However, there are levels to this game, and Hall’s grappling is second to none. With Topuria talking like he plans on testing Hall on the mat, getting ‘The Wizard’ at
9/5 seems like a solid dog pick.
But that’s not all for the underdogs – there are two more I’m backing this weekend. Omari Akhmedov (
13/10) should ride his strong wrestling to a win over Brad Tavares, and in the opener, I like Hu Yaozong (
23/20) to beat Alen Amedovski due to his size and youth.
For my lock of the week, I’m taking Dricus du Plessis at
4/5 over Trevin Giles. du Plessis has the striking and the grappling to win this fight no matter where it ends up.
*All odds correct at time of writing.