Friday, February 26, 2021

UFC 257: Poirier vs. McGregor 2 Staff Predictions

We are one day away from UFC 257, which will feature the return of “The Notorious” Conor McGregor as he rematches Dustin “The Diamond” Poirier in the main event. The co-main event will feature lightweights as well, with Michael Chandler making his UFC debut against Dan Hooker.

The kick-off time for the pay per view is 10:00 PM ET, with the early prelims kicking off at 6:15 and the ESPN prelims starting at 8:00 PM ET. The Etihad Arena in Fight Island will play host to the card.

Here is the full main card for the event:

  • Conor McGregor vs. Dustin Poirier
  • Dan Hooker vs. Michael Chandler
  • Jessica Eye vs. Joanne Calderwood
  • Matt Frevola vs. Arman Tsarukyan
  • Marina Rodriguez vs. Amanda Ribas

MMA News is the place to be for all the latest UFC 257 updates. You can catch the ceremonial weigh-ins for the event here. Myself, Ed Carbajal, and Andrew Ravens have provided predictions for the card, which you can find below.

NOTE: The Matt Frevola vs. Ottman Azatair fight has been canceled.

Marina Rodriguez vs. Amanda Ribas

Clyde Aidoo: This is a fine display of women’s mixed martial arts to kick off the 2021 pay-per-view calendar. With Tatiana Suarez still inactive, I think Amanda Ribas has taken her place as being the biggest threat to watch in the division as she climbs up the ranks. With a couple more wins, Ribas could be fighting for a title, and I believe she will showcase why when she takes on one of the best strikers in the division in Marina Rodriguez. Ribas has a major edge on the mat here, and I believe she has the intelligence and winning mentality to have the obvious gameplan here and take this fight to the mat, where I do not believe Rodriguez will have any answers for Ribas whatsoever. (Pick: Amanda Ribas)

Ed Carbazel: This fight is actually a great match up to open up the main card. Ribas is well rounded enough that she seems to be able to get wins every way there is to get one. Rodriguez however has faced competition that might be a little tougher than what Ribas has been against. While Rodriguez lost to the likes of Carla Esparza and fought to a draw against Cynthia Calvillo, it means she could truly test Ribas at UFC 257.  Still, there is something to be said for the plucky attitude that Ribas has. Also, I feel bad picking against her. (Prediction: Amanda Ribas)

Andrew Ravens: Ribas has been on fire as of late by winning her last five fights, four of which came inside of the Octagon. Meanwhile, we have Rodriguez who has gone 1-1-1 and her last fight ending by split decision to Carla Esparza. To me, it’s an interesting fight on paper, but come fight night, Ribas should outclass Rodriguez. (Prediction: Amanda Ribas)

Consensus: 3-0 Amanda Ribas

Matt Frevola vs. Ottman Azaitar (Canceled)

Clyde Aidoo: You can expect these athletes to come out and compete like it’s their mission to earn a performance bonus. This is a certified banger, and if it does go the distance, that means it probably will be FOTN caliber. When it comes to precision KO power, I think Azaitar has the edge there, even though Frevola may have more physical strength. I also think that Frevola is more hittable between the two, and this is not something you can afford to be when facing someone who has nearly a 76% finish rate by KO/TKO. Frevola is the type of guy to play spoiler to betters who back the guy with the shiny undefeated record and KO rate, but I have to side with the undefeated fighter who I fully expect to connect in the fight and hard. (Prediction: Ottman Azaitar)

Ed Carbazel: If there is a fight of the night contender to predict from the main card, this fight is it. Frevola is tough, with only one loss against an undefeated Azaitar. Azaitar touts 10 knockouts out of his 13 wins.  With Frevola’s one loss by knockout expect Azaitar to try to add another one in this fight. Frevola can certainly grind out a victory but it’s hard to pick against the undefeated fighter. (Prediction: Ottman Azaitar)

Andrew Ravens: Here’s the sleeper on the whole card as Ottman enters undefeated and has won his last three fights, two of which were in the UFC, by first-round KO. On the flip side, we have Frevola, who appears to have found himself by ripping off back-to-back decision wins. I believe in the hype of Ottman and see him getting another first-round KO win. (Prediction: Ottman Azaitar)

Consensus: 3-0 Ottman Azaitar

Jessica Eye vs. Joanne Calderwood

Clyde Aidoo: I can see this fight playing out any number of ways. Calderwood has been working on her takedown defense, but I think that Eye will be pretty tenacious and earn enough takedowns to maybe win a close decision or split decision. Both women’s winning percentage is at 66% in the UFC’s flyweight division, so this match truly is a toss-up. However, I do think Eye has the more impressive wins between the two, namely against Katlyn Chookagian (who holds a victory over Calderwood) and Viviane Araujo. This one could come down to the judges and how much they value Calderwood’s strikes to Eye’s wrestling and how much of each the rounds consisted of. (Prediction: Jessica Eye)

Ed Carbazel: Both of these women are coming off of losses, so they have a lot on the line in this fight. They also both like to strike, so it should not be a surprise if this goes all three rounds with them trying to knock each other out. However, if they do go to the ground, Eye might have the edge over Calderwood. Standing, Calderwood might have the edge. Hard to call, but Calderwood may have enough of a striking advantage to get the win. (Prediction: Joanne Calderwood)

Andrew Ravens: This is the definition when it comes to picking an MMA fight as these two ladies not only enter this fight losing their last bout but have also gone 2-2 in their last four. I’m not sure if anyone knows who is going to win this, but I’ll side with Eye via decision just due to her experience with fighting another top-tier talent. (Prediction: Jessica Eye)

Consensus: 2-1 Jessica Eye

Dan Hooker vs. Michael Chandler

Clyde Aidoo: For years, fans have wondered how Michael Chandler would fare in the UFC. Saturday night, we finally begin to get some answers. Although this is mostly a grappler vs. striker matchup, Chandler is certainly not one-dimension and can be explosive on the feet. But if he willingly engages in a prolonged standup with Dan Hooker, then he’s not utilizing a winning strategy. Chandler is a very high-IQ individual, so he knows where his best chance to win this fight is: utilizing his Division I wrestling. And Hooker did not have too much time to prepare for such a dominant strength, so that could be a problem for him.

However, I think that Dan Hooker is very game and that his takedown defense will hold up, at least enough for him to utilize each of his limbs to wear Chandler down with his strikes and maybe get the finish. I think this fight is extremely close, and Hooker is the kind of guy you want to back in extremely close fights because he is as game as it gets, and gameness and intangibles are great attributes to fall back on when you are struggling to visualize a definitive winner. (Prediction: Dan Hooker)

Ed Carbazel: This fight holds a lot of interest since it is the debut of former Bellator lightweight champion, Michael Chandler. His test coming in is with a tough customer in Dan Hooker, but Chandler is no stranger to tough customers. UFC jitters? Not likely for Chandler who has fought in Japan and at Madison Square Garden. Half of Hooker’s wins are by knockout, which coincidentally is the way Chandler lost three times. It’s a coin toss, but Chandler is a very motivated lightweight. However, Hooker’s reach might be hard to deal with. (Prediction: Dan Hooker)

Andrew Ravens: Chandler has finally arrived in the UFC and will have a solid challenge in Hooker, who is a very good fighter that seems to be on the rise, but not where he could be. Chandler should outclass Hooker if he decides to rely on his wrestling, and I think that happens. If Chandler can’t get a takedown, then there is a bit more of a challenge, as Hooker is an exceptional striker, although no one can knock the hands of Chandler. I have the former Bellator champion getting a decision win. (Prediction: Michael Chandler )

Consensus: 2-1 Dan Hooker

Conor McGregor vs. Dustin Poirier

Clyde Aidoo: One of the biggest knocks on Dustin Poirier used to be that he doesn’t show up for big fights. Well, that narrative has died at the hands of Poirier after consistently winning main event bouts recently. In fact, Poirier has won five of his last six main events, which just happens to be five of his last six fights. The only loss was to the seemingly unbeatable Khabib Nurmagomedov. But if it seems like I’m setting up a pick for Dustin Poirier, think again.

Conor McGregor is the ultimate big-fight performer, and I do not see a world where Dustin Poirier outstrikes Conor McGregor on the feet. For as much as Dustin Poirier has improved, there is one constant weakness that has remained: he is very hittable. And if there is one fighter in this division you simply cannot afford to be hittable against, it’s Conor McGregor. If this fight extends into the championship rounds, Poirier’s style may be better suited for war, but I think there definitely is a false narrative that Conor has poor cardio. So even if the fight does drag out, I think Conor is still more likely to outstrike Poirier enough to win a decision, ala the second Diaz fight. Unless you are a very dominant wrestler or a zombie facing McGregor in a welterweight debut, I think you’re good picking Conor in pretty much any bout. He’s just that good. (Prediction: Conor McGregor)

Ed Carbazel: This may be a rematch, and at the time of writing this, Poirier is a +250 underdog, but that might change by the time they weigh in. The other thing that has changed is the type of fighter Poirier was from their first fight in 2014. Now, he’s a black belt in jiu-jitsu with a guillotine choke that’s so popular that it’s almost an MMA meme. McGregor is good, but submissions have shown to be the chink in his “Notorious” armor. Don’t be surprised if the underdog wins. (Prediction: Dustin Poirier)

Andrew Ravens: Due to the way their first fight went and the fact that many people are seeing McGregor smash Poirier, most will side with the former UFC champ. I’m on that side as well. There are levels to the MMA game and Poirier, who is extremely good, is not on that level. His fight with Khabib shows just that. This is not the same as McGregor fighting an out-of-his-prime Donald Cerrone, but this appears to be another fight that McGregor should win with ease, although I don’t see it ending in a minute as he predicted. I have McGregor winning by second-round TKO. (Prediction: Conor McGregor)

Consensus: 2-1 Conor McGregor

That’ll do it for the UFC 257 predictions. Do you agree with the MMA News staffers? Who do you think will emerge victorious on the main card? Give us your predictions in the comments below and be sure to stick with us for live coverage of UFC 257!