UFC 257 marks the return of Ireland’s biggest sports star Conor McGregor against a gritty Dustin Poirier in the main event. The January 23rd event at the Fight Island in Abu Dhabi will be the UFC’s first pay-per-view showdown in 2021, and there’s no better way to kickstart the year than to have the world’s most popular combat sports star do the honors.
In the co-main event, Michael Chandler is set to make his UFC debut against Dan Hooker. The card also features several exciting fights, including a women’s flyweight bout between Jessica Eye and Joanna Calderwood, a lightweight battle between prospects Nasrat Haqparast and Arman Tsarukyan, and a bantamweight bout between UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov’s cousin Umar Nurmagomedov and Sergey Morozov.
Dustin Poirier vs Conor McGregor
We are just days away from the UFC 257 blockbuster main event between Dustin Poirier and Conor McGregor. There is already quite a lot of buzz surrounding the event, and it’s no brainer that the reason is the Irishman himself. The two fighters have fought before in 2014 at UFC 178, with McGregor making light work of Poirier, but things could be dramatically different this time around.
Since losing to McGregor, Poirier has amassed a 10-2-1 record in the UFC lightweight division. ‘The Notorious’ has had his share of success too since his victory at UFC 178, but he’s a humble 1-1 at the 155lbs division. Both McGregor and Poirier have come a long way since the first time they fought.
Poirier is a fantastic stand-up fighter, with great boxing and kicks. He can be pretty devastating on the ground as well. On the other hand, McGregor is one of the most lethal strikers in the UFC, and usually requires only a good shot or two to swing the fight in his favor. It will be interesting to see how Poirier, who gets hit quite a lot in his fights, deals with McGregor’s relentless pressure, primarily early on. It will also be interesting to see how the Irishman carries himself if, in case, he fails to finish ‘The Diamond’ in the first few rounds.
Poirier vs McGregor is an extremely interesting fight that has the potential to go either way.
Michael Chandler vs Dan Hooker
Michael Chandler has been rating himself as one of the best lightweights in the world, and he’s got his chance to prove it. Dan Hooker might not be one of the top five guys who Chandler was hoping for, he’s no stepping stone nonetheless. The New Zealander has won seven of his last nine fights, losing only to Edson Barboza and Dustin Poirier.
Stylistically, the matchup between the two fighters is an intriguing one. Hooker, a former kickboxer, loves to stand and trade. He’s one of the most underrated and technically gifted strikers in the UFC. In contrast, Chandler is a wrestler who loves mixing things up. With nine KO wins to his credit, the former Bellator champion is no slouch on his feet too.
It all comes down to who executes his game plan better.
Jessica Eye vs Joanne Calderwood
With eyes on the flyweight gold, both Jessica Eye and Joanne Calderwood will be looking not only to win but also to make a statement at UFC 257. Ranked at number six and seven respectively, both Eye and Calderwood need a performance that impresses the audience, but most important, reigning champion Valentina Shevchenko, who has been running through every challenger in the flyweight division.
Nonetheless, their fight has the potential to be a classic. Eye is a very agile striker with incredible hand speed and variety, while Calderwood is an accomplished kickboxer turned mixed martial artist. Both women are also incredibly tough, which means we should expect a three-round war.
Nasrat Haqparast vs Arman Tsarukyan
Cage fights between two up-and-coming prospects always deliver, and Nasrat Haqparast vs Arman Tsarukyan is truly a promising matchup. It is also exciting because it’s a classic striker vs grappler contest. Haqparast is a kickboxing prodigy, and Tsarukyan guarantees high-level wrestling. If you don’t believe me, go and watch Arman’s fight with Islam Makhachev, which was also his UFC debut.
Although he came up short in the fight, the 24-year-old gave Khabib’s cousin and training partner a run for his money.
Umar Nurmagomedov vs Sergey Morozov
Khabib might have bowed out of MMA, but the UFC still has an undefeated Nurmagomedov who demands respect. Umar Nurmagomedov, like his Dagestani compatriots, is a world-class wrestler, but he can strike really, really well too. The young Nurmagomedov has won numerous championships in kickboxing and is constantly improving under the guardianship of American Kickboxing Academy (AKA) founder Javier Mendez.
Umar has a greater skillset than Khabib, and that explains a lot. Sergey Morozov (16-3) is also a very well-rounded fighter, but he’ll have his work cut out. Can he pull the upset? We’ll have to wait and see.
Other Scheduled Fights On The Card:
Khalil Rountree vs Marcin Prachnio
Marina Rodriguez vs Amanda Ribas
Brad Tavares vs Antônio Carlos Júnior
Matt Frevola vs Ottman Azaitar
Shane Burgos vs Hakeem Dawodu
Andrew Sanchez vs Makhmud Muradov
Julianna Peña vs Sara McMann
Dustin Poirier or Conor McGregor, who are you picking to win at UFC 257?
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