UFC 257 returns to prime time this weekend, offering plenty of intrigue around the return of the self-proclaimed king Conor McGregor. The Notorious is on the main card for a rematch with American Dustin Poirier.
There are plenty of subplots to the event on Fight Island this weekend. A win for the Irishman could be enough to draw Khabib Nuramgomedov out of retirement for a lucrative title fight with McGregor.
McGregor hasn’t stepped into the octogen since UFC 246, ending Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone’s night with a spectacular 40-second TKO. Since UFC 246, the Irishman announced his third retirement from the sport, before toying with the idea of an exhibition boxing match against Manny Pacquaio.
Despite his lack of activity, McGregor heads into the bout as a warm favourite at -305. The Notorious boasts 22-4 record that includes 19 wins via knockout. If McGregor claims the win, it will be his first at Lightweight since 2016, when he claimed the TKO over Eddie Alvarez at UFC 205.
The Diamond (+235) has put together an impressive body of work over his last five fights, with his only loss coming at the hands of Khabib. Poirier has claimed wins over Justin Gaethje, Eddie Alvarez, Max Holloway and most recently Dan Hooker.
Both men are southpaws and Poirier is a different fighter to the one that lost to McGregor at featherweight in 2014. Both fighters are terrific strikers and look for McGregor to end the night early with a left hand to the jaw. The Irishman’s only four losses have only come via submission. If Poirier can take the fight deep and tire out McGregor, he could record a stunning upset. McGregor’s superior reach and accuracy put him at a distinct advantage despite his lack of activity. The Irishman will be too strong this weekend and set-up a match-up with Khabib with a TKO win this weekend.
Dan Hooker vs Michael Chandler
An intriguing subplot at the event is the debut of Bellator fighter Michael Chandler (Even) against New Zealand fight Dan Hooker (-130). A win for either man will put them into the conversation for a shot at Khabib or potentially a vacated belt. Hooker has been impressive over his last two fights, with a win over Paul Felder and a close loss to Dustin Poirier. With a 20-9 career record, the Hangman is a proven warrior.
The New Zealand fighter is an accomplished kickboxer, standing at over six-feet tall and has added wrestling to his repertoire. In his last two bouts, he has landed five successful takedowns.
Chandler comes into this bout with a distinct reach disadvantage. The American will be looking at using his wrestling skills and his fast right hand to put Hooker under pressure. The New Zealand fighter was impressive in 2020 and expect him to claim the decision.
*Odds courtesy of Bodog