Conor McGregor is back, and he is not alone.
The Irish superstar headlines one of the biggest PPV events of the year in UFC 264. The card is full of electric fights from top to bottom. However, the true cream of the crop is all condensed to the main card, and let me tell you what a main card it is.
Prospects, contenders and superstars are what fans have to look forward to in what could be the highest selling PPV card of 2021.
UFC 264 Main Event
Conor McGregor vs. Dustin Poirier 3
The stakes have never been higher for Conor McGregor and Dustin Poirier in this massively anticipated rubber match. Not only is it the deciding fight in their trilogy saga, but it is also essentially a number one contender fight to decide who freshly crowned 155lb champion Charles Olivera will face in his title defense.
It was Poirier who came out on top most recently, handing McGregor his first TKO loss at UFC 257. Poirier utilized a combination of leg kicks and counter striking to disrupt McGregor’s flow, before closing in for the kill. McGregor claims he has made all necessary adjustments to defeat Poirier in this trilogy fight and has also stated that ‘The Diamond’ is nothing more than a ‘dead man walking.’ Whether this simply represents a return to the mental warfare McGregor is so well known for, or a legitimate change in strategy for the Irishman will be revealed on Saturday night.
Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson vs. Gilbert Burns
Two fan-favorite technicians face off in this classic BBJ grappler vs Karate striker style matchup. Gilbert Burns is coming off a failed title fight against current welterweight champion Kamaru Usman, and is looking to get back to winning ways. However, this may well be “Wonderboy” Thompson’s last chance to set him himself up for a shot at 170lb gold.
Thompson is now 38 years old, making him one of the oldest fighters in the division. But wins over Vincente Luque and Geoff Neal have had the karate black belt turning back the clock and looking nothing short of sensational. Both men have a lot riding on this fight and will no doubt leave it all in the octagon.
Tai Tuivasa vs. Greg Hardy
This isn’t a hard one to break down. This fight can be condensed into one sentence: “Two heavyweights who love to knockout people out.” Tai Tuivasa is coming off back-to-back KO stoppages over Stefan Struve and Harry Hunsucker, and is looking to continue his run into a three-fight winning streak. Greg Hardy came up short against Marcin Tybura earlier in the year after running out of gas and falling prey to Tybura’s ground game.
However, before Tybura got the fight to the ground, Hardy’s striking looked extremely dangerous. Against Tuivasa there will be no takedown threat from either man. They will both walk to the middle of the octagon and throw heavy leather. Both men have a relatively similar level of experience and come from a sporting background outside of martial arts. Don’t blink in this electric heavyweight matchup.
Irene Aldana vs. Yana Kunitskaya
This is a matchup that may well decide the next top contender in the women’s bantamweight division. Both Aldana and Kunitskaya are ranked within the top five and a win here will at very least set up a number one contender fight, if not the next opponent for Amanda Nunes.
Yana Kunitskaya is building momentum behind her having defeated Ketlen Viera and Julija Stoliarenko in her last two UFC appearances. Now she takes on Irene Aldana who is coming off her first main event fight, where she faced off against Holly Holm. Aldana was unable to get the win that day, but she did put on a competitive performance for the full five rounds against a savvy veteran.
Sean O’Malley vs. Kris Moutinho
Sean O’Malley is one of the brightest prospects in the entire UFC. He was initially scheduled to face off against Louis Smolka, in what would have been an intriguing showcase for O’Malley to reveal just how good he is against an experienced UFC veteran. However, Smolka dropped out after contracting a staph infection and has since been replaced by Kris Moutinho on two weeks’ notice.
Little late to the part but, Sean O’Malley will now face Kris Moutinho at #UFC265. Moutinho will be making his UFC debut. Massive opportunity.
What’s your thoughts on this? pic.twitter.com/y7hvpiSRUz
— Lewis Simpson (@LewisSimpsonMMA) June 30, 2021
Moutinho will make his UFC debut in this fight against O’Malley, having previously been competing for CFFC. This will be true baptism of fire for Moutinho, and he is a heavy underdog going into this fight. O’Malley has looked extremely impressive so far into his UFC career, and many see this as an easy win. However, Moutinho is in the perfect position to spring a big upset and truly announce himself in a big way at UFC 264.