This Sauce Is Spicy, UFC 264 Predictions
Source: Zuffa LLC
History is a funny thing. It shapes how we perceive people, places, and things, but more importantly (and maybe even redundantly) it shapes legacy, and that's what's on the line for this fight. I'm not talking about Poirer's, his legacy has already been forged in this sport. He's overachieved if anything. No, I'm talking about Conor McGregor's legacy. At one time he was the king, and maybe he still is, but his reign has never been in as much doubt as it is now.
UFC 178 is where all of this started. Two young, rising prospects faced off in a tilt that would go on to open the door to the greatest runs in MMA history. But like I said, history is a funny thing. The Diamond has proven that he is indeed forever, while the Notorious One is exactly that. It's one apiece, a win for Poirier likely places him amongst the greats at 155, while a loss for McGregor will surely dim his star permanently.
UFC 264 will be history, and it isn't often we get to see a light shine as bright as Conor's. But like many of the great entertainers in sports history, that light often gets put out in heartbreaking fashion. Will that light shine another day? Or will the once great king be dethroned for good? I guess we'll see.
Conor McGregor vs Dustin Poirier
Admittedly, I bottled the second fight prediction between these two. Hindsight is 20/20, but I gravely underestimated Dustin. Looking back I should have taken into account a variety of different red flags, but who cares, I was wrong and now I eat crow. So what exactly can Conor do to right his wrongs from the last fight? Who knows, but everyone and their grandma has an opinion on the matter. Though, the outlook looks bleak if you're a Mac fan.
It wasn't so much the leg kicks the last fight, it was everything else. Poirier was timing Conor's left and follow-up right. He also dictated the pace of the fight. Conor was never in control despite him landing a good shot or two. The result may have shocked some, but looking back it shouldn't have been. Dustin has been battled tested like no other in this division, while Conor has been sailing yachts across a body of water I'm not rich enough to name.
I think we've come to expect greatness from Conor given what he was able to do in his prime. But is possible to say that we should expect greatness from Dustin given his track record as well? Conor is an icon, but Dustin has become a folk hero, and in many ways that once little folk tale starts to become more and more iconic in it's own right. Surely though, the pressure sits squarely on McGregor's shoulders.
Dustin has become the worst type of opponent for McGregor. He's mentally strong, has a great all-around game, and is as durable as they come. HOWEVER, I'm not done believing in Mystic Mac's power. He isn't what he once was, but in the words of Toby Keith, he could be as good once as he ever was. Let those Irish flags fly high!
Prediction: Conor McGregor, 2ND RD TKO
Gilbert Burns vs Stephen Thompson
This is an awesome fight between two of the more likeable guys in the UFC. Wonderboy is coming off a solid win against Geoff Neal, while Burns is looking to bounce back after losing to Usman in devastating fashion. Straight to the point, it would be a mistake for Burns to try and keep this fight standing. He has such a clear advantage on the ground I would think that has to be the game plan.
However, if Burns decides he wants to test the waters in a standup battle I'm not willing to just toss him aside, but it would be unwise. With that said, Wonderboy doesn't have the power that an Usman possesses, nor does he really put fear into anyone's heart anymore. I not only think Burns is more dangerous standing up, but I also think Burns has more ways to win than Wonderboy does. So I'm riding with the man they call Gilbert.
Prediction: Gilbert Burns, Decision
Greg Hardy vs Tui Tuivasa
Greg Hardy the football player was pretty good, Greg Hardy the MMA fighter is meh, and Greg Hardy the human is a piece of shit. Make of that what you will, but how in the name of god you put this fight on the main card is beyond me. As much as I like Tuivasa, this fight has prelims written all over it. Neither guy is all that special. Hardy can't beat anyone with any ring IQ, and Tuivasa is pretty much in the same boat. Let's root for a shoey shall we.
Prediction: Tua Tuivasa, 2ND RD TKO
Irene Aldana vs Kunitskaya
The elephant in the room is the dreadful weight cut Aldana attempted. Missing weight by over three pounds is pretty disappointing, and if you're Kunitskaya, you have every right to be pissed. This was always going to be a close matchup, but given that history favours those who do miss weight by the amount Aldana did, I can't help but lean in favour of the Guadalajara native.
I don't expect too many fireworks from this one. Neither fighter is really that exciting to watch, but if Aldana can keep off the fence and use her boxing to keep Kunitskaya at bay, I like her odds.
Prediction: Irene Aldana, Decision
Kris Moutinho vs Sean O'Malley
Look, the promotion and O'Malley himself can say whatever they want about this matchup, but of selection of Moutinho is was pretty disappointing. With all the guys lining up to fight O'Malley, the fact that UFC chose to go outside of its own roster to give O'Malley another layup stinks. Granted, the Smolka fight wasn't much more than a layup either, so it shouldn't be much of a surprise.
I hope Moutinho proves us all wrong and puts on a good showing, but looking at what he's done against far lesser opposition I just don't think this is anything more than a glorified squash match.
Prediction: Sean O'Malley, 2ND RD TKO
Rest of the Card
Griffin def Condit
Pereira def Price
Hall def Topuria
Giles def du Plessis
Eye def Maia
Tavares def Akhmedov
Zhumagulov def Rivera
Hu def Amendovski
2021 Predictions Record: 91-61-2