The UFC’s three-event, eight-day stint in its return to Abu Dhabi culminated in Saturday night’s UFC 257. It featured the return of former dual-division champion Conor McGregor, as he faced form interim UFC lightweight champion Dustin Poirier in a rematch of their 2014 bout.
McGregor won their first meeting in one minute and 46 seconds by technical knockout. He didn’t better that mark in the rematch. In fact, it was Poirier that gave McGregor a brutal welcome back to the Octagon after a year on the sidelines.
Dustin Poirier knocks out Conor McGregor at UFC 257
The fight opened with McGregor quickly showing his hand speed, stinging Poirier with a combination. Poirier answered by taking McGregor the canvas, though he couldn’t keep him there.
Once they returned to their feet, Poirier did a good job keeping McGregor on the fence for a time, but again, couldn’t keep him there either.
McGregor fought off the fence, exchanging shoulder punches with Poirier, generally lnading the harder shots.
When they came off the fence, McGregor’s boxing was stellar, landing stinging combinations that snapped Poirier’s head back. Though Poirier seemed to be breathing heavily, McGregor couldn’t put him away.
As round two opened, Poirier went back to landing calf kicks, several of which he hand landed in round one. But in round two, it was becoming obvious that the kicks were starting to sap stability out of McGregor’s lead leg.
McGregor never lacked confidence and kept throwing punches that snapped Poirier’s head back, but he wasn’t to be denied. Though McGregor kept firing off the punches, Poirier may have taken some of the sting out of them by hampering McGregor’s lead leg.
That eventually led him to an opening. He took full advantage. Poirier landed another low kick followed by a punch combination that hurt McGregor. He followed with a series of punch combinations that sent McGregor to the canvas.
Poirier fired off a couple more punches, leaving referee Herb Dean with no choice but to stop the fight.
More than six years following their first meeting, having won an interim title during that span, Poirier exacted his revenge, scoring the biggest victory of his career.
“I felt like this was a title fight. If Khabib's not coming back, me and Conor are the two best guys. I think this was the title fight. I’m the champion.”
Humbled by the defeat, McGregor had to admit that ring rust is real.
“It’s hard to overcome inactivity over long periods of time. The leg kicks were good. That low calf kick was very good. The leg was dead. It’s inactivity and that’s it. Dustin’s tough,” McGregor admitted, but said he fully intends to return to the Octagon again this year.
“Of course (I’ll fight again in 2021), I need activity. You don’t get away with being inactive in this business. I’ll take me licks. It's a tough one to swallow.”
Michael Chandler knocks out Dan Hooker, announces his arrival
Former Bellator champion Michael Chandler faced a staggering amount of expectation as he entered the Octagon for the first time at UFC 257 opposite Dan Hooker, but he delivered on all fronts.
It took him a couple minutes to get going, but once he did, Chandler landed several hard punches. He ate a calf kick from Hooker, but returned fire with a right hand to the body that set up a crushing left hook that sent Hooker to the floor. He followed Hooker down and unloaded with a flurry of hard punches that forced the referee to stop the fight.
Super-excited from the electric victory in his UFC debut, Chandler did a sky high back flip off the top of the Octagon fence.
As good as Chandler was in the cage, he was just as good on the mic.
"A lot of ups and couple downs led me to this," he told Jon Anik.
"I tell you all this. This is the greatest moment in my professional life. Conor McGregor, there’s a new king in the lightweight division. Dustin Poirier, your time is coming. Khabib, if you ever do see fit to grace us with your presence back here in the UFC Octagon in your quest for 30, you know you got to beat somebody, so beat me... if you can!"
Joanne Calderwood puts on masterful performance against Jessica Eye
Jessica Eye and Joanne Calderwood opened with blistering punch and knee exchanges, but Eye kept clinching and pressing to the fence. Calderwood started to flow about three minutes into the fight, landing much better with her kick and punch combinations. Eye, however, did a great job with her uppercuts every time they got close.
Calderwood though found her distance in the second round, staying on the outside, landing some brutal punches. Swelling was quickly appearing on Eye's face. Calderwood landed a beautiful knee and kick midway through the round that hurt Eye badly.
Eye kept firing back, but at a much slower pace than Calderwood, who was picking Eye apart from the outside. Eye finally scored a takedown late in the second frame, but couldn't do anything with it before the clock ran out.
The third round started with Eye quickly pressuring Calderwood up against the fence and kept her there for the first half of the final frame. As soon as they separated, Calderwood landed a hard kick and again picked Eye apart from the outside.
Eye tried to shoot, but Calderwood sprawled, clinched and landed several knees to Eye's body and head. She kept it up throughout the final moments of the round, landing more knees and opening a cut around Eye's left brow.
It was a tremendous performance by Calderwood, who lost her only fight of 2020 to Jennifer Maia. She won a unanimous decision, immediately injecting her name back into the flyweight championship conversation.
Makhmud Muradov scores blistering standing knockout of Andrew Sanchez
Makhmud Muradov left a lasting impression on the UFC 257 main card with his third round knockout of Andrew Sanchez. Muradov landed a knee and several follow-up punches that led the referee to stop the fight while Sanchez was still standing, but seemingly out of the fight.
Marina Rodriguez tops Amanda Ribas
Marina Rodriguez opened the UFC 257 pay-per-view with a huge rebound victory over Amanda Ribas. Rodriguez lost to Carla Esparza in her last outing, but rebounded on Saturday night with a TKO stoppage courtesy of her elbow and punches for an early second-round stoppage.
UFC 257: Poirier vs. McGregor 2 results
UFC 257 Main Card
Dustin Poirier def. Conor McGregor by TKO (punches) at 2:32, R2
Michael Chandler def. Dan Hooker by TKO (punches) at 2:30, R1
Joanne Calderwood def. Jessica Eye by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
Makhmud Muradov def. Andrew Sanchez by TKO (knee and punches) 2:59, R3
Marina Rodriguez def. Amanda Ribas by TKO (elbow and punches) at 0:54, R2
UFC 257 Preliminary Card
Arman Tsarukyan def. Matt Frevola by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-26)
Brad Tavares def. Antonio Carlos Junior by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
Julianna Pena def. Sara McMann by submission (rear-naked choke) at 3:39, R3
Marcin Prachnio def. Khalil Rountree Jr. by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
Movsar Evloev def. Nik Lentz by split decision (28-29, 29-28, 29-28)
Amir Albazi def. Zhalgas Zhumagulov by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
UFC 257 results & recap
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