On Saturday, July 10th, the T-Mobile Arena, Las Vegas, will be the setting for war. Not with guns, tanks, and soldiers; but with fists, elbows, flying knees, and any other moves the UFC fighters will execute to emerge victorious at UFC 264.
Headlining the event is the much-anticipated third clash between Conor “The Notorious” McGregor and Dustin “The Diamond” Poirier in the Lightweight division. Supporting this main event on the Main Card is a Welterweight clash between Gilbert Burns and Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson.
This article looks at both clashes, plus a third Main Card matchup, Hu “Bad Boy” Yaozong vs Alen Amedovski in the Middleweight division, in what is set to be an intriguing UFC event.
Poirier vs Conor McGregor
This is the decider. At UFC 178, McGregor put Poirier away in just over 90 seconds. The two had had beef before the matchup, and the result didn’t help.
In the second battle, at UFC 257, Poirier had the last laugh, however. He finished McGregor by technical knockout in the second round. Going into the fight, the animosity had vanished, and newfound respect had taken its place between the two fighters.
Poirier has refused to be drawn into all the trash talking and has made it clear he’s there to fight. He wants to let his hands do the talking, and in the last fight, they had a lot to say in a set of tactics that were totally on point.
Despite encountering fast hands and, in the clinch, some masterful shoulder strikes from McGregor, he chopped McGregor’s legs to pieces with vicious leg kicks before, in the second round, letting his heavy hands take over with some brutal punches to make it ‘Game over’ for McGregor.
In this final match in the trilogy, what will happen is anyone’s guess, but some sportsbooks are pricing the UFC 264 odds of -126 for McGregor and making Poirier an underdog with +105.
“The Notorious” versus “The Diamond” is certainly not a foregone conclusion, by any means. As we know from McGregor’s second fight with Nate Diaz, “The Notorious” knows how to learn from defeats and adapt. In this regard, he’s shown himself to be a true champion.
Burns vs “Wonderboy” Thompson
Burns vs Thompson in the Welterweight division is a big fight… bigger than it might appear. Although there’s no silverware on the line, the outcome of the matchup could set up the winner with a shot at the championship.
It’s the no 2 (Burns) versus the no 4 (Thompson). An MMA fighter and grappler versus a striker. It’s going to be some matchup.
Thompson marched comfortably to victory versus Geoff Neal. As is often the case in his fights, the matchup was a tale of Wonderboy delivering quick kicks and rapid counter-striking, and generally keeping the opponent guessing, making it hard for them to close the distance, follow their own game plan or get into any real sort of rhythm.
Meanwhile, Burns will be keen to shake off his defeat at the hands of champion Kamaru Usman in their February 2021 Welterweight title fight. Usman dropped Burns in the third round and followed it with a series of punches on the ground before referee Herb Dean pulled him off, calling a halt to the matchup.
Although much has been made of Wonderboy’s lightning-fast reactionary style, Burn’s high level of intelligence within the cage is forgotten. The grappler may have some tricks up his sleeve, saved especially for Wonderboy.
“Bad Boy” Yaozong vs Amedovski
This is going to be an interesting Main Card event. Here we have two fighters in the Middleweight division seeking their first win in the UFC. Both fighters have been on the wrong end of the results in their two fights at the company.
Macedonian-born Amedovski is a knockout specialist and, before making his debut in the UFC, had a perfect record of winning all eight of his bouts by knockout. As always, he’ll enter the cage against “Bad Boy” Yaozong looking for the win, but he’ll also be looking to prove he’s capable of more in the Octagon than just delivering knockout power.
The Macedonian will also be hoping to redeem himself in the eyes of his coach, team, and fans. Versus John Phillips, he got dragged into the slugfest the crowd were expected and found himself knocked out early in the first round, which was a major disappointment.
For his opponent, Yaozong, fitness levels and a general rustiness in the Octagon could be decisive in their matchup, “Bad Boy” has lived up to his nickname somewhat, having had to begin a 10-month sanction in mid-June 2019. The Chinese fighter from Beijing tested positive for a banned substance.
Before his lengthy absence, Bad Boy was last seen at UFC Beijing in action against Rashad Coulter in 2018. Although the fight went the three-round distance, the decision went Coulter’s way.
His previous fight had been in 2017, still on his national soil but in front of a Shanghai crowd this time, against Avignon-born Cyril Asker. The Frenchman submitted Zaozong with a choke just over two-and-a-half minutes into the second round.
UFC 264 will deliver high drama as always, and fans will learn how the McGregor-Poirier story ends once and for all when the two go head to head in Las Vegas. We may also see who will fight next for the Welterweight title. Whatever happens, fans can expect excitement and the fighters giving their all on July 10th. Let’s get it on.