UFC is definitely getting plenty of use out of the new Etihad Arena in Abu Dhabi. A maximum of about 2,000 fans are getting to see MMA action in the United Arab Emirates, and the promotion is putting on three events there in eight days, coming to a climax on Saturday (for North American viewers) at UFC 257. Take advantage of the Jazz Sports exclusive bonus 150% Free Play Bonus over at JazzSports.ag, just by mentioning the Promocode G911 while signing up. On top of that, Jazz Sports is giving you an extra $25 Free Bet to wager on the big fight.
The main card will begin at 7:00 am local time in Abu Dhabi, with the full preliminary card starting three hours earlier, so that North American viewers can watch the bouts during prime time.
The headliner is a rematch between one-time UFC Lightweight and Featherweight champ Conor McGregor and Dustin Poirier, a former interim champion. This is a rematch of their fight at UFC 178 back in 2014, which McGregor won in the first round via TKO. The co-main event pits Dan Hooker against Michael Chandler in another lightweight fight.
Let’s look at the full card as well as thoughts on the main event.
UFC 257: Poirier vs McGregor 2
Dan Hooker vs Michael Chandler (Lightweight)
Jessica Eye vs Joanne Calderwood (Women’s Flyweight)
Matt Frevola vs Ottman Azaitar (Lightweight)
Marina Rodriguez vs Amanda Ribas (Women’s Strawweight)
Preliminary Card (ESPN / ESPN+)
Nasrat Haqparast vs Arman Tsarukyan (Lightweight)
Brad Tavares vs Antonio Carlos Junior (Middleweight)
Julianna Pena vs Sara McMann (Women’s Bantamweight)
Khalil Rountree Jr vs Marcin Prachnio (Light Heavyweight)
Early Preliminary Card (ESPN+ / UFC Fight Pass)
Andrew Sanchez vs Makhmud Muradov (Middleweight)
Movsar Evloev vs Nik Lentz (Catchweight – 150 lbs)
Amir Albazi vs Zhalgas Zhumagulov (Flyweight)
Dustin Poirier vs Conor McGregor is McGregor’s first fight after twelve months out of the Octagon. Poirier is hoping to last longer than 1:46 this time, after that ignominious TKO stoppage the last time. After that bout, Poirier moved up to lightweight and has since posted a 10-2 record, holding an interim belt after beating Max Holloway at UFC 236. McGregor took the featherweight title before also moving up, later taking two divisions simultaneously when he beat Eddie Alvarez at 205, becoming the first simultaneous champ in two divisions in the history of UFC.
It’s interesting that McGregor is the fourth-ranked lightweight in UFC despite the fact that he has not won a fight in the lightweight division since 2016. Even so, it would likely take just a win here to get him a title bout, given the likely retirement of Khabib Nurmagomedov. In the first fight against Poirier, McGregor had used mind games ahead of the fight to drain Poirier’s confidence.
However, Poirier’s jump to lightweight has led to a number of impressive victories. He lost to Nurmagomedov in a title fight that became a highlight reel in its own right, and he is the second-ranked lightweight in UFC. He has developed into one of the top lightweights in the world, with elite boxing skills along with an outstanding ground game that includes both jiu-jitsu at a black belt level and wrestling that continues to improve. He can also finish opponents while standing up with his pace and power. He can also eat bombs if he needs to, while delivering pressure.
McGregor brings a long jab, a precise left hand and big kicks. He also beat Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone in the first round via TKO, but Poirier this time around will be a much tougher opponent than Cerrone was. McGregor will need his accuracy to blunt Poirier’s offense while looking for cracks in his defense. Poirier needs to get this to the ground in order to have a greater chance to win, but it’s just as likely that they go toe to toe and exchange bombs. In the latter scenario, McGregor has the better chance.
*Odds are subject to change.