UFC 257, the first pay-per-view of 2021, is on the books with Dustin Poirier with a sensational second round victory over Conor McGregor.
In a rematch of their first fight in 2014, Poirier resisted McGregor’s early attacks before cutting off the Irishman’s lead right leg and knocking him out midway through the second round.
In the main co-event, Michael Chandler made a memorable UFC debut by knocking out New Zealander Dan Hooker in the first round and then calling out McGregor, Poirier and Khabib Nurmagomedov.
Read below for all the post-fight scans and breakdowns from a brilliant day of fighting.
Dustin Poirier is a real
By his own admission, the Dustin Poirier who lost to Conor McGregor in 2014 was an angry and easily insecure man. He was outmatched and intimidated when he fell to a superb first round knockout against a rising McGregor.
Not this time.
Poirier moved up one weight class, won some, lost a few and fought for a world title (and a provisional title). Outside of the Octagon, he matured, had a daughter, and dived headfirst into his charity.
Poirier’s 2021 version is more centered, calmer, and more at peace with himself.
“I’m happy. I’m happy where I am and who I see in the mirror,” he said after the biggest win of his career.
In wins over Jim Miller, Anthony Pettis, Justin Gaethje, Eddie Alvarez, Max Holloway and Hooker, Poirier has legitimate claims to be the most entertaining fighter on the UFC’s roster.
And while he’s had plenty of titles and title fights on big cards, he’s never really had the wider fame that his resume and charity work deserves.
This will change now.
In front of the world, Poirier has just handed McGregor one of his most resounding defeats, and was quite classy in his post-fight interview.
Forward and up for Dustin Poirier, a real one in every way.
McGregor made by inactivity
McGregor admitted immediately after the loss that his long stay out of the cage was telling.
He came back against Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone last year, but the fight didn’t last a minute. His last real outing in the Octagon was his 2018 lightweight title fight against Khabib.
Rust is real, and it shows.
McGregor landed well but wasn’t quite in the zone as Poirier blocked well and had plenty of leg kicks.
What’s next for Poirier and McGregor?
If Khabib was truly retired, the main event of UFC 257 should have been for the lightweight title.
It wasn’t, but Poirier is set to fight for the belt later this year. Against who? Charles Oliveira perhaps, or Khabib if he decided to continue fighting. Maybe Chandler has already won the title.
As for McGregor. . .
A third fight from Nate Diaz looks pretty good. I would also watch him fight Poirier a third time.
Introducing Michael Chandler
Chandler just made one of the most impressive UFC debuts in recent memory.
Not only did the former Bellator lightweight champion land a massive shot that dropped the hangman, before finishing him off with the ground and the pound, the 34-year-old then cut a sensational promo.
Chandler joins the likes of Eddie Alvarez, Gaethje and Ben Askren to make his UFC debut after standout careers in other promotions.
Without a doubt, his was the best, and he’s already in line for a 155-pound belt shot in the not too distant future.
Hooker hasn’t retired, has he?
Hooker couldn’t get anything for the duration of his fight with Chandler.
Then, as Bruce Buffer read the result, the Kiwi could be seen undoing the band of his gloves and removing them.
According to Daniel Cormier in a comment, Hooker threw the gloves on the floor and left him in the cage, usually a sign that a fighter intends to withdraw.
I sincerely hope this is not the case.
Herb, we have to talk
When you officiate so many high-level fights over such a long period of time as Herb Dean, you’re bound to make a mistake or two along the way.
It looked like the veteran referee was stopping the strawweight fight between Marina Rodriguez and Amanda Ribas when Ribas was caught with a right hand in the second round. Instead, he stepped in but stopped, making Rodriguez believe she had won.
The fight continued and Rodriguez won a short time later, but it wasn’t a good look and it’s not the first time he’s gone wrong.
Julianna Pena calls Amanda Nunes. . . and Nunes retaliates
Pena picked up a third round submission win at the RNC over compatriot Sarah McMann, then quickly called Nunes, claiming the longtime bantamweight champion was dodging her.
It didn’t take long for Nunes to respond.
What was in the bag?
Yeah, I’m going to need to know what was in the bag that one of Ottman Azaitar’s boys delivered to him on Fight Island.
If you don’t know the backstory, click on this link here, but the short version of it goes like this: With less than a day before his scheduled fight with Matt Frevola, Azaitar was completely cut from the UFC after he and his team gave their safety bracelets to several other people who were then able to enter the W hotel bubble.
According to UFC President Dana White, one of the men who were given a bracelet “showed up here with a bag, walked into a room, walked through four balconies, went to her bedroom, put down the bag, changed clothes and left. “
And I just needed to know what was in the bag.
For the record, White said he had “no idea” what was in the bag.
Problems with ESPN + after streaming crackdown
White spoke of a big crackdown on illegal banners ahead of UFC 257, but on fight night it was the legal flow that was in trouble.
When the pay-per-view portion of the card kicked off, MMA fans, fighters, and even other celebrities flooded Twitter saying that ESPN + was not allowing them to access the stream.
I wonder if the two were related.
They are apparently so obsessed with illegal banners that they forgot to take care of their legal ones.
– Dave Doyle (@davedoylemma) January 24, 2021
It’s wild. 25 minutes in the PPV and still cannot access it. Moments of fun!
– Shaheen Al-Shatti (unshaunalshatti) January 24, 2021