Lightweight superstars Conor McGregor and Dustin Poirier are set to square off for a third time at UFC 264 in July.
Just six months removed from their previous fight, the pair will aim to cement a #1 contender spot, with newly-crowned champion Charles Oliveira awaiting the winner.
Last Time Out
Back in January, the return of “The Notorious” was on everyone’s mind. With Khabib Nurmagomedov in talks to leave the sport, the lightweight title finally seemed a manageable feat for the contenders. With the knowledge of the first meeting in mind, McGregor entered the fight as a favourite over Poirier.
Adopting a boxing-heavy stance, McGregor left himself open to be taken down in the opening moments of round one. After a grappling exchange against the fence, McGregor found his feet and the fight returned to the centre of the Octagon. The Irishman controlled most of the boxing exchanges throughout the remainder of the round, with Poirier utilizing a calf kick that went unchecked on numerous occasions. Entering the second round, the low calf kick had evidently accumulated. As Poirier’s confidence grew, he seized an opportunity to close the show at 2:32 of round two, landing a sequence of punches on the immobilized McGregor, dropping him before Herb Dean stopped the fight.
Reflecting on the loss, Conor stated “I deserved to get the legs kicked off me”, referring to his outlook on Poirier as a “precursor to a fight with Pacquiao.”
What Has Changed?
A hefty criticism of McGregor has been his inactivity in the past few years. Entering the previous bout with just 40 seconds of Octagon time in the past 3 years, inactivity undoubtedly played a factor. Conor headed into the clash with a linear boxing approach against a world-class, former interim lightweight champion. This time, he is expected to display his traditional stance, a stance which has brought him success in the form of two world titles.
Poirier enters the third fight with a heightened aura of confidence in comparison to the previous clash. He knows he can take McGregor down and knows he can stand and trade with him. With five round wars against Holloway and Hooker in the past 2 years, ring-rust is far from an issue for the American. Dustin Poirier defied the odds in the previous meeting, and it’s safe to say nobody is doubting his abilities in the third clash.
McGregor, known for his brash and relentless trash talk and mental warfare, had adopted a calm demeanour in his previous two outings. However, a Twitter feud broke out between the two after Poirier revealed his charity was yet to recieve a donation from McGregor, a promise that Conor made prior to the bout.
McGregor, after firing back Poirier, has promised “No more Mr. Nice Guy” in relation to his upcoming bout. Rewinding to the pairs first bout in 2014, the mental warfare of McGregor unquestionably had an effect on Poirier, resulting in a brisk first-round finish for The Notorious.
Looking ahead to the third clash, there are a few question that are yet to be answered. Can Conor adopt and execute a different stance? Can he go face-to-face with the Octagon experience of Poirier? And finally, can Dustin keep a cool head in the face of an inevitable wave of mental warfare in the weeks leading to the bout?
How do you think the third fight plays out? Let us know in the comments!
PREVIEW | UFC Vegas 44: Jose Aldo vs Rob Font
This Saturday, the UFC returns to the Apex for another blockbuster card on paper. The main event see’s the consensus greatest Featherweight of all time, Jose Aldo, take on one of the best boxers on the current UFC roster, Rob Font.
The prelims kick off with a Bantamweight bout between Louis Smolka and Vince Morales. Smolka was scheduled to fight ‘Suga’ Sean O’Malley on the huge UFC 264 card, however, had to pull out of the scheduled bout due to an infection. His return on Saturday marks a year exactly since he last stepped into the Octagon, when he defeated Jose Quinonez in December of 2020. Vince Morales has had quite a tough ride so far in the UFC, with his first bout under the UFC banner in 2018 being against power puncher, Song Yadong. After 1 win, he was then granted bouts with Benito Lopez and Chris Gutierrez being beaten in both. I can see the fight playing out on the feet, with Smolka having a lot of success and getting the finish in the first 2 rounds.
A Welterweight bout between Alex Morono and Mickey Gall follows, with Morono looking to make it 3 in a row, after defeating ‘Cowboy’ Cerrone and David Zawada already this year. Mickey on the other hand is performing at a win loss ratio of 50%, as in his last 6 fights, he hasn’t put together consecutive wins. Both fighters are Jiu-Jitsu specialists, so I am expecting the fight to play out at quite a slow and patient pace, and can see Morono taking the unanimous decision victory, making it 3 in a row.
The penultimate bout of the prelims see’s Manel Kape face Zhalgas Zhumagulov, in what I predict will be one of the fights of the night. Kape, who is the former Rizin Bantamweight champion, came to the promotion with a lot of expectation and hype due to his previous fights in Rizin and his fight style. His UFC career didn’t get off to the start he may have expected as he was defeated by Alexandre Pantoja, who is the current rank 3 in the Flyweight division and Matheus Nicolau in a controversial split decision loss. He bounced back from a 2 fight losing skid by defeating Ode Osbourne with a highlight reel flying knee. Similarly to Kape, Zhalgas lost his first 2 UFC bouts, bouncing back with his recent win over Jerome Rivera. This bout will mark the first bout of Zhumagulov’s new contract, and he’ll be hoping it mark it with a statement win. I see the bout playing out to Kape’s advantage as his striking is more polished than Zhalgas’, with a unanimous decision victory for Kape what I am predicting.
The featured prelim bout see’s a clash of 2 Middleweights coming off the back of losses. The Serbian, ‘Thunder’ Todorovic faces off against Maki Pitolo in a fight that both need a win to resurrect their UFC careers. Both fighters acquired their UFC contracts through the Contender Series, with both fighters only winning once since their Contender Series victories. I can see the fight playing out on the feet, with Todorovic throwing with volume using the clinch to his advantage, getting a finish.
Kicking off the main card is a barn burner in the middleweight division, between Chris Curtis and Brendan Allen. ‘The Action Man’, Chris Curtis, caused an upset in his UFC debut against Phil Hawes, KO’ing him with a short left hook to the dome. During that fight, he faced some adversity as Hawes was laying it on him with beautiful body strikes and powerful combinations. Brendan Allen, another Contender Series alumni, is looking to stop Curtis’ streak of 6 wins in a row, starting a streak of his own as he looks to end the year with a 100% win record, already with 2 wins for the year. Curtis is going to look to try and keep the fight on the feet, nullifying the threat of Allen’s black belt BJJ credentials. I can see Allen getting the fight to the ground early on with a decision victory or submission win on the cards.
The co-main event see’s an even matchup between ‘Attaman’ Fiziev and Brad Riddell. This matchup is one I am most looking forward too as Fiziev is one of the most explosive strikers in the Lightweight division, coming up against his toughest test so far in Riddell. In his last bout, Fiziev defeated Bobby Green in a war, taking the unanimous decision victory, showing that he’s not just an explosive striker and can in fact, take some punishment as well as dishing it out. Both fighters are coming into the bout 10-1, looking to catapult themselves into a top 10 fight. Fiziev will fancy himself if the fight stays standing but I envisage Riddell shooting for the legs after tasting any of Fiziev’s shots. Fiziev will utilise his Muay Thai style with vicious leg kicks and strikes in the clinch, and I am predicting ‘Attaman’ will get the finish and will be granted a top 10 opponent after being one of the most avoided guys in the division.
The Bantamweight division will again show its quality in Saturday nights main event, when Font and Aldo step into the Octagon. Currently occupying ranks 4 and 5, a win for either fighter gives them a great platform for a title fight, or at the least, a number one contender fight against the recently returned, TJ Dillashaw. Font is coming off the back of a 5 round masterclass against former Bantamweight King, Cody Garbrandt. Before that bout, everyone knew about Font’s elite boxing, but we weren’t really sure how he’d fair against another elite boxer. During the fight, Font stuck behind his jab and jabbed his way to a unanimous decision victory, putting his name at the top end of a stacked Bantamweight division. On the other side of the Octagon you have the King of Rio, Jose Aldo, coming off the back of a unanimous decision victory over Pedro Munhoz where he showed once again that age is just a number, and he is still a man to be feared in the Bantamweight division.
Font’s boxing heavy approach may be his downfall in this fight against Jose Aldo, as if he relies too much on his heavy hands, he may find himself getting chewed up by leg kicks as his feet will be planted too often. Jose Aldo will mix up his attacks better than Font, going from body to head mixing in his powerful leg kicks, closing the distance as much as possible. Font’s keys too victory will be sticking behind his jab and keeping his distance from Jose Aldo, utilising his range and length to his advantage.
In a division that is leaking with talent, who will put on a show on Saturday night and get a possible number one contender fight with former champ, TJ Dillashaw?
Dom Wooding to make first title defence plus fight announcements
Dominique Wooding will make his maiden title defence of the Cage Warriors title, as he takes on the 9-3 Carlos Abreu on the second night of Cage Warriors’ upcoming Double Trouble event on Saturday 11th December.
Several other fights have also been added across both nights of the double header. Talking on his first title defence, Dominique Wooding, who has won both of his fights in Cage Warriors by knockout, said:
“This fight is only going one way and that’s me going three out of three on kills to finish off the year in devastating fashion. There’s a great performance incoming from me and this is the fight that gets me signed to the UFC. Training camp for me and my teammates that are on the Double Trouble cards at GBTT is going really well with solid work being put in day in day out so the team will be riding out in full effect!”
Carlos Abreu enters Cage Warriors with a 9-3 record consisting of one TKO win and four submission wins and will be in the position of challenging for the title in his first ever fight for the promotion.
Ahead of his title shot, Abreu, who has a win over Cage Warriors veteran Chris Miah, spoke about how big his upcoming debut is: “This is the chance of my life! The cage is my home and I am afraid of no man!”
CW 132 will also see the Cage Warriors debut of Wooding’s teammate, Lone’er Kavanagh as he takes on Maximilien Vallot.
Friday’s CW 131 card has also had some more fights added, with Yassine Belhadj, Danilo Belluardo, Luke Riley, Yuki Angdembe, Michael Tchamou and Samir Kadi all making appearances at York Hall.
Speaking on the additions to both nights, Cage Warriors president, Graham Boylan, said: “Every time I look at these Double Trouble cards I get more excited.
“We’ve now got four world title fights with the addition of Wooding, and I’m sure people are interested in seeing how well he will perform in his first fight as champion. Then you look further down the cards and we have some incredibly talented fighters ready to show the world what they can do. These two events are going to be crazy and I can’t wait to end the year with a bang with our fans at York Hall!”
At CW 131, Michael Tchamou will make his Cage Warriors debut in a middleweight contest against Samir Kadi, Luke Riley makes his second Cage Warriors appearance as he takes on GB Top Team’s Yuki Angdembe at bantamweight, while Yassine Belhadj will go toe-to-toe with Danilo Belluardo in the lightweight division.
Tickets for both nights of Double Trouble are on sale here.
CW 131 Friday 10th December
Matthew Bonner (c) vs Djati Melan – middleweight title bout
George Hardwick vs Mehdi Ben Lakhdhar – vacant lightweight title bout
Oban Elliott vs Madars Fleminas – welterweight bout
Yassine Belhadj vs Danilo Belluardo – lightweight bout
Nik Bagley vs Scott Pedersen – featherweight bout
Jean N’Doye vs Tom Mearns – featherweight bout
Liam Gittins vs Kingsley Crawford – bantamweight bout
Adam Cullen vs Mikail Bayram – lightweight bout
Ben Rees vs PK Zadeh – featherweight bout
Samir Kadi vs Michael Tchamou – middleweight bout
Luke Riley vs Yuki Angdembe – bantamweight bout
CW 132 Saturday 11th December
Dominique Wooding (c) vs Carlos Abreu – bantamweight title bout
Sam Creasey (c) vs Luke Shanks – flyweight title bout
Mateusz Figlak vs Kent Kauppinen – welterweight bout
Tobias Harila vs Jair Junior – featherweight bout
Michal Figlak vs Stevie McIntosh – lightweight bout
Jamie Richardson vs Leonardo Damiani – welterweight bout
Paull McBain vs Konmon Deh – featherweight bout
Tanio Pagliariccio vs Aidan James – bantamweight bout
Maximilien Valot vs Lone’er Kavanagh – flyweight bout
Aaron Aby vs Samir Faiddine – flyweight bout
Sumo: Terunofuji achieves first undefeated tournament of his career
The Kyushu basho champion Terunofuji confirmed his undefeated 15-0 record with a tough victory over Ozeki Takakeisho in Fukuoka, Japan.
After an exciting tournament that looked like going down to the wire, the fact that the champion was crowned on day 14 took the final day down a notch in terms of excitement. However, there was still a lot to fight for on day 15 of the basho.
The most notable was the Yokozuna’s attempt to achieve a zensho-yusho (undefeated championship) for the first time. His opponent was Takakeisho, the Ozeki who was only ruled out of contention for the championship on day 13. He gave Terunofuji a good fight but in the end was forced out of the dohyo, giving Terunofuji his maiden 15-0. Looking at the competition at the moment, it’s hard to say that this will be his last.
Otherwise, there were lots of rikishi who were sat on 7-7 and the final day would decide if they move up or down in the rankings. Of those, Daieisho, Wakatakakage, Endo and Chiyomaru were successful, finishing their tournaments on 8-7. Ishiura, Tobizaru, Keisei, Chiyoshoma and Hidenoumi were all defeated on the final day and finish on 7-8. Kaisei’s status in the top division is looking in danger as he is already in the bottom M17 rank.
At the end of the basho, the Sumo Association gives out awards for fighting spirit and skill. Abi and Takanosho were awarded fighting spirit prizes and Ura was awarded the prize for showing his considerable sumo skill.
That brings an exciting basho to an end! Look for more articles over the coming days/weeks which will compile the best matches and finishes from the Kyushu Tournament! To finish, here is the final standings for those who reached double figures in the Kyushu basho.
Terunofuji (Y) 15-0
Takakeisho (O) 12-3
Abi (M15) 12-3
Mitakeumi (S) 11-4
Takanosho (M2) 11-4
Hokutofuji (M12) 11-4
Ura (M7) 10-5
Stick with VMTV for Sumo news between now and the next basho. The VMTV Sumo guide can be found here.
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