UFC 257 is in the bag and the future of the lightweight division got a little more clarity in Abu Dhabi in the early hours of Sunday morning.
Let’s take a look back at what happened. Want the post-fight reaction? Scroll to the end to watch the post-fight press conference.
Co-main: Hooker v Chandler (155)
In the co-main event of the evening, #6 ranked lightweight contender Dan Hooker and three-time Bellator champion and promotion newcomer ‘Iron’ Michael Chandler went head to head.
To the victor, a likely encounter later this year with Charles Oliveira or potentially Justin Gaethje. Or at least that’s what we thought before the fight.
Once the cage door closed, as calm and collect as Dan Hooker looked all week, it turns out that Michael Chandler can bring the heat as he kept the pressure on Hooker for the opening two minutes before dropping the New Zealander with a 2-3 for a sweeping left hook over the top to claim the spoils.
Watch as Chandler goes full old-school WWE in his call out.
Main event: Poirier v McGregor 2
As alluded to at the weigh-ins on Thursday, the UFC 257 card was built around the return of Conor McGregor, reportedly taking a US$5m pay-day before points for Sunday morning’s run-back with Dustin Poirier.
In 2014 it was all one-way traffic. This time out, it was a well-executed game plan from Dustin Poirier that got the win.
McGregor may have edged the first round, but with five minutes on the clock, Poirier’s calf kicks were already taking their toll. An early takedown looked to rattle McGregor before the shoulder strikes, verbal sparring and boxing from both took over heading to the end of the first.
In the second, The Diamond continued to eat away at McGregor with the low calf kick before closing the distance against the cage and opening up with his boxing.
With McGregor’s movement stunted, a Poirier flurry that finished with a stiff right hook put The Notorious away mid-way through the second.
Gracious in defeat, McGregor put his loss down to his inactivity.
“If you put in the time in here, you’ll get cosy in here. You don’t get away with being inactive in this business. It’s a tough one to swallow.”
In the time since the pair first met, it’s been ten lightweight wins for Poirier, one for McGregor.
Whatever happens, McGregor is intent on continuing to fight and build up his cage time in 2021, but after tonight’s result, that’s a year unlikely to feature Khabib Nurmagomedov.
For Poirier, he considers Sunday morning’s bout as the title fight, hailing himself and McGregor as “the best in the division” but his journey towards UFC gold continues.
Elsewhere in Abu Dhabi, Julianna Pena left it late in the third round of her prelim fight against Sara McMann to pick up a rear-naked choke submission win.
The main card opened with a pair of finishes before Jojo Calderwood got her win over Jessica Eye.
All told, a long and solid night of fights as 2021 opens with some statement performances.
UFC 257 Results
- Dustin Poirier def. Conor McGregor v TKO (2:32 R2)
- Michael Chandler def. Dan Hooker via TKO (2:30 R1)
- Joanne Calderwood def. Jessica Eye via unanimous decision (30-27 x2, 29-28)
- Makhmud Muradov def. Andrew Sanchez via TKO (2:59 R3)
- Marina Rodriguez def. Amanda Ribas via TKO (0:54 R2)
- Arman Tsarukyan def. Matt Frevola via unanimous decision (30-27 x2, 30-26)
- Brad Tavares def. Antonio Carlos Junior via unanimous decision (30-27 x2, 29-28)
- Julianna Pena def. Sara McMann via submission (RNC, 3:39 R3)
- Marcin Prachnio def. Khalil Rountree via unanimous decision (29-28 x3)
- Movsar Evloev def. Nik Lentz via split decision (29-28 x2, 28-29)
- Amir Albazi def. Zhalgas Zhumagulov via unanimous decision (29-28 x3)
Watch: UFC 257 post-fight press conference