The Return of Mystic Mac, UFC 257 Predicitons
It's been just over one full year since the king himself has graced his presence inside the octagon, and boy what a difference a year can make. UFC 246 had a wealth of fans and hype alike, this time around all that has been tempered down tremendously. Abu Dhabi won't get to experience the full power of the Irish army, or the electricity of a capacity crowd when the former Champ-Champ walks in.
With that said, McGregor-Poirier is still a cracking headliner! It's been a wild journey for both men since the last time they squared off. We all know what McGregor has gone on to do, but Dustin has had quite a career to boast about himself. As fan, this fight is almost surreal in a Twin Peaks/alternate dimension sort of way. In 2014, these men despised each other, now, well now it seems they couldn't have more respect for one another.
It's that maturity that makes this fight so intriguing. Dustin isn't that same brawling, overemotional fighter that he once was. He's now a cool, calm and collected killer, and it's that mentality that gives him a much better chance to win this time around. However, as much as Dustin's matured, McGregor has seemed to completely changed his outlook on fight buildups as well. Out are the antics, in are the waves to the kids and hugs for the opponent.
Of course, the rest of the card shapes out quite nicely as well. The prelims consist of a few key matchups in McMann-Pena, Tsarukyan-Frevola, and Tavares-Carlos Junior. Sanchez-Muradov gets moved up to the big show because of Ottman Azaitar's curious decision to break every COVID protocol known to man. It's a move that costed him his job, but I'm sure you'll be able to see the documentary about it on Fight Pass in years to come!
But the time is now! Let's get to predicting!
Conor McGregor vs Dustin Poirier
There really is something about this fight that just leaves so much room for doubt on both sides. Has McGregor ironed out his cardio issues? Is he fully committed to being the best again? Will he be able to stand up to the pressure Poirier has become known for? All valid questions, especially since we learned pretty much nothing about his game after the Cerrone fight other than he still has that killer instinct.
However, that fight was a match made in heaven for him, Dustin is anything but. But like I said, Poirier has a ton of questions to answer to as well. Will their previous fight effect his mentality going into this one? Can he overcome the size of this stage? Does he actually have the game to go toe to toe with the Irishman? Poirier has been under some of the brightest lights the UFC has to offer, but nothing is quite like main eventing against the "Notorious One".
When it comes to the fight, it's obvious the roles these two play; Poirier is the bull, and McGregor is the matador. Conor loves controlling the middle of the octagon and reacting and countering to what his opponent does, meanwhile Poirier likes to apply the pressure and land punches in bunches. In boxing terms this is a classic puncher vs counter puncher clash, and it should make for fireworks one way or another.
Many have come to question just how good of a fighter Conor is. Literally every fight there always seems to be a massive amount of doubt. Whether it be his wrestling, or his cardio, or his passion for the sport. For some reason there is always doubt. To me, this is a great matchup for McGregor. Is Poirier really that much better than Eddie Alvarez? Sure he beat him, but that bout was rock em' sock em' robots. That won't be this fight.
The obvious line of thinking is McGregor HAS to win early, I don't exactly believe that. I think he benefits greatly if this fight doesn't last long, but If the McGregor Fast method has truly paid off for Conor, than I can see him being his technical/dominant self. He proved in the Diaz 2 fight that he can go five hard rounds, and I think when push goes to shove he'll be able to show that heart again. Although I don't think he'll need to.
Prediction: Conor McGregor, 2nd RD TKO
Michael Chandler vs Dan Hooker
How can you not be stoked for this fight? Hooker has proven to be one of the nastiest 155ers in the sport and Chandler has a resume as impressive as anyone. Hooker looks to be the favourite, but despite that, Chandler seems to be the one with a lot more to prove. The UFC has not been shy marketing him, and they've essentially rolled out the red carpet for the Bellator legend, so there is a ton of pressure on him to put in a great performance.
Chandler blew away Benson Henderson in his last outing, but I think he'll have issues with Hooker's height and range. Funny enough, I watched the Sean Sherk-Nick Diaz fight the other day and this fight kiiiiiinda reminds me of that with the differences in body types. Sure, that fight was at 170, but that makes Hooker's ability to make this weight comfortably all the more impressive.
Hooker has proven he can go to war, and even though he's come up short in those sort of tilts more times than not, I think the variety of his toolbag will help him get this one done. Chandler has the grappling edge, so this could definitely turn into a wrestling clinic, but I think he wants to prove something in his debut. I just don't it's going to work out in his favour.
Prediction: Dan Hooker, Decision
Joanne Calderwood vs Jessica Eye
Both of these ladies come into this fight at similar points in their careers. Both are 34, both are 1-2 in their last three fights, both have wins AND losses to fighters in the top five of their division, and both desperately need this win. If this was a five round fight I'd lean Eye, but a three round tilt screams advantage Calderwood. The Scot is the far busier fighter and Eye has a tendency to be too picky while on offence. Good fight, but I'll ride with Calderwood.
Prediction: Joanne Calderwood, Decision
Makhmud Muradov vs Andrew Sanchez
I was really looking forward to Fevola and Azaitar in this spot, but we know how that turned out. However, this isn't a terrible substitute at all. I don't have much to say other than Muradov is riding a double-digit win streak and has some really clean boxing. If Sanchez can get grimey than I'll give him a chance, but I think Muradov's output and efficiency will do him in.
Prediction: Makhmud Muradov, Decision
Amanda Ribas vs Marina Rodriguez
This is a huge step up for Ribas. Rodriguez, in my estimation, is miles better than anyone she's fought to date. With that said, I still believe in the power of positivity Ribas brings to this event. She's just an awesome person. Ribas' camp probably knows it would be a poor decision to stand with Rodriguez so I can see a lot of ground work being put on display in this one. It should be a good back and forth fight, but the star will continue to grow..
Prediction: Amanda Ribas, Decision
Rest of the Card
Tsarukyan def Frevola
Tavares def Carlos Junior
McMann def Pena
Rountree def Prachnio
Evloev def Lentz
Albasi def Zhumagulov
2021 Predictions Record: 13-6