UFC 257: Dustin Poirier vs. Conor McGregor 2 - MMA Betting & DFS Preview

A lightweight rematch featuring Dustin Poirier vs. Conor McGregor headlines this UFC 257 main card.
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UFC 257: Poirier vs McGregor

#UFC257 MMA Betting Preview

We’ve reached the third leg of the 2021 kickoff over at Fight Island, and it's going to be a banger. The sport's biggest star takes center stage Saturday night, as The Notorious Conor McGregor (22-4) makes his return to action and will face the #2 lightweight in the world in Dustin Poirier (26-6). Casual MMA fans come out of the woodwork for the McGregor fights, and as of Thursday, from a betting perspective, it's very apparent they are alive and well. Before Friday's weigh-ins, there has been more money wagered on McGregor than the other 23 fighters combined. With the line opening in the -175 range, it has now exceeded -300.

In the co-main event of the night, #6 Dan Hooker (26-6) looks to be the one to welcome former Bellator Lightweight Champion, Michael Chandler (21-5), after comments that any and all above Hooker in the ranks refused to sign to fight the UFC newcomer. Hooker stepping up to the plate puts him in a great spot if he’s able to slow the hype of Chandler’s entrance into the stacked division.

We have a huge card in-store, and the prelims will kick off on ESPN, followed by the main card live on Pay Per View.

READER CONTEST

One winner will receive the official UFC 257 Artist Series Event Poster!

UFC-257-Poster

If you would like to enter, please private message (DM) me on Twitter with who you think wins the main event!

Follow & message me at @Y2CASEY with the following:

  • Fight winner: (Poirier/McGregor)
  • Method of victory: (Knockout/Submission/Decision)
  • Which round: (1, 2, 3, 4, 5)

If multiple people select all three correct, those will be randomized to select one winner! Results will be announced on my Twitter!

UFC 257 DETAILS

  • DATE: SATURDAY 01/23/21
  • BROADCAST: Pay Per View – Prelims: ESPN
  • VENUE: UFC Fight Island
  • LOCATION: Abu Dhabi
  • # of MATCHES: 12

MAIN CARD

LIGHTWEIGHT BOUT 155LBS

#2 DUSTIN POIRIER 26-6 VS #15 CONOR MCGREGOR 22-4

LIGHTWEIGHT BOUT 155LBS

#6 DAN HOOKER 20-9 VS MICHAEL CHANDLER 21-5

WOMEN’S FLYWEIGHT BOUT 125LBS

#6 JESSICA EYE 15-8 VS #7 JOANNE CALDERWOOD 14-5

WOMEN’S STRAWWEIGHT BOUT 115LBS

#8 MARINA RODRIGUEZ 12-1-2 VS #9 AMANDA RIBAS 10-1

MIDDLEWEIGHT BOUT 185LBS

ANDREW SANCHEZ 12-5 VS MAKHMUD MURADOV 24-6

PRELIMS

LIGHTWEIGHT BOUT 155LBS

ARMAN TSARUKYAN 15-2 VS MATT FREVOLA 8-1-1

MIDDLEWEIGHT BOUT 185LBS

#14 BRAD TAVARES 17-6 VS ANTONIO CARLOS JUNIOR 10-4

WOMEN’S BANTAMWEIGHT BOUT 135LBS

#7 JULIANA PENA 9-4 VS #9 SARA MCMANN 12-5

LIGHT HEAVYWEIGHT BOUT 205LBS

KHALIL ROUNTREE 8-4 VS MARCIN PRACHNIO 13-5

CATCHWEIGHT BOUT 145LBS

NIK LENTZ 30-11-2 VS MOVSAR EVLOEV 13-0

FLYWEIGHT BOUT 125LBS

AMIR ALBAZI 13-1 VS ZHALGAS ZHUMAGULOV 13-4

MAIN EVENT PREDICTION

#2 DUSTIN POIRIER 26-6 VS #15 CONOR MCGREGOR 22-4

McGregor and Poirier run it back in the main event Saturday, seven years after their first matchup. While McGregor has been somewhat inactive, fighting only once since 2018, Poirier has fought on five occasions in the same span. Against killers too. Poirier has been in some wars and collected five bonuses along the way.

With a win Saturday night, one of these two should be next in line at the title. Khabib holds the strap at the moment, and both Poirier and McGregor have recent submission losses against him, which they’d like to avenge.

Both these guys are heavily focused on the task at hand here though first, and for Poirier, it is proving he’s a much different fighter McGregor saw seven years ago. "The Diamond" has gone 10-2 since that match. As previously mentioned, he's faced the best of the best along the way, defeated the likes of Anthony Pettis, Justin Gaethje, Eddie Alvarez, Max Holloway, and this card’s co-main fighter Dan Hooker. He’s validated his skillset and toughness, earning every right to get this loss back from McGregor potentially.

For McGregor, he’s hungry to get active again. While not looking past Dustin by any means, he’s predicting a masterful performance, even stating it will be finished inside of 60 seconds. Coming into this one, he’s 22-4, with 19 knockouts, including a first-round knockout of Cowboy Cerrone last January. Although not stacking up fights over the last couple of years, McGregor is coming into fight week in what looks to be the best shape of his career.

So who wins?

Poirier has what I believe are two paths to victory here. One taking this one into deep “Fight Island” waters, just as he did against Dan Hooker last June, where he lost the first two rounds, then took over the cardio and volume war in the last three. The second is to sneak somehow someway a submission, which happens to be the only way McGregor has ever lost, though it happened four times now in his professional career. If you are feeling froggy, and if Poirier can get that done, you are looking at a +1100 prop for the taking.

For McGregor, I believe his gas tank issues are exaggerated, and he can escape Saturday night with a decision landing with precision and power as he does. Still, the most likely outcome is McGregor notching his 20th KO victory.

Before the two have even made the walk, I’ve monitored both headliners this fight week as they've battled through media obligations and tight quarters at the hotel. From a mentality standpoint, McGregor has scored a 10-8 round. McGregor is coming in after setting up a training camp this go-round in Portugal off the Atlantic coast. Just seclusion and a small town proud to host the former two-division champ and his team. Upon completion of camp and his arrival to Fight Island, we see a much different fighter. He’s composed and very respectful for not only the opportunity in front of him but standing out the most is his utmost respect for his opponent Saturday night. Seeing this version of McGregor is new territory. His mystic ways of foreseeing what is about to go down, along with his over-the-top professionalism, are even more intimidating than the trash talk and antics of years past.

On the other hand, Poirier has looked a bit off this week. In an interview waterside midweek, he struggled to answer very basic questions, almost as if he wasn’t present. Mentally he surely wasn’t, or quite possibly, flashbacks of this last matchup where he was finished in less than two minutes have come back. During the presser, while McGregor, Hooker, and UFC newcomer Michael Chandler were engaged and full of energy, Poirier looked like he was in a blur, not looking anyone in the eyes, and quite frankly counting down the minutes to the presser's end. As a huge fan of Poirier, this concerned me a bit about him coming into this fight.

In the fight, I expect Poirier to attack the legs out of the shoots. McGregor’s great at taking center cage control and pressing where the fight goes, but Poirier will look to take the lead with some kicks. I'd imagine this would cause adjustments in McGregor's offensive plans to attack, but not by much. McGregor is a master of the counter, and very quickly, we will see this come into play. Whether it be Poirier’s attack to the body or legs, McGregor will find openings up top within the first few exchanges and take control of the fight's momentum. Poirier will have some issues closing in on McGregor, and while he looks to score at range, I expect to see a couple of hitches I’ve seen from him in the past, McGregor will execute on. Poirier usually punches in bunches and then pauses almost to survey the scene. This will be an opening McGregor will snipe. Additionally, Poirier’s cardio is amazing, but he halts to take in a big breath or two at times. Again, McGregor will have opportunities here, almost like throwing a stick into a bicycle wheel.

In the end, Poirier’s volume and cardio will at some point be disrupted by the speed and power of McGregor's exceptionally accurate shots. Though I wouldn’t be mad, and what an amazing story it would be if Poirier can win against the highest-profile fighter in MMA, I see McGregor styling on him and leaving the victor.

PREDICTION: POIRIER/MCGREGOR U2.5 RDS -142

MAIN CARD WAGERS

LIGHTWEIGHT BOUT 155LBS: #2 DUSTIN POIRIER 26-6 VS #15 CONOR MCGREGOR 22-4

  • Rematch from their first match in 2014, where Conor won via TKO.
  • Since that fight, Poirier has gone on a 10-2 run.
  • McGregor’s 4 losses come by way of submission. Poirier has 7 in his career.
  • Poirier is a 2nd degree BJJ black belt. McGregor a BJJ brown belt.
  • In rematches, the winner of the first fight usually wins the second 70% of the time.
  • Conor has never lost a striking match up that stays on the feet.
  • BET: POIRIER/MCGREGOR U2.5 RDS -142

LIGHTWEIGHT BOUT 155LBS: #6 DAN HOOKER 20-9 VS MICHAEL CHANDLER 21-5

  • Long-awaited UFC debut for Chandler
  • While 4 of Chandler’s last 5 have ended in RD 1, Hooker has gone to a decision in his last 3.
  • Hooker will have a 6-inch reach advantage.
  • Chandler’s debut reminds me a bit of when they brought in Moraes and Alvarez. Both lost their debuts and followed up with razor-close splits. I am interested to see what happens here.

WOMEN’S FLYWEIGHT BOUT 125LBS: #6 JESSICA EYE 15-8 VS #7 JOANNE CALDERWOOD 14-5

  • Eye has gone to a decision in 9 of her last 10. (The one was a KO loss to Shevchenko)
  • 3 of Calderwood’s 5 losses have been via RD 1 submission.
  • Eye has just one submission victory in 24 pro fights.
  • Calderwood has a chip on her shoulder coming into this one. Looking forward to being the one that “gets to” punch Eye in the face.

WOMEN’S STRAWWEIGHT BOUT 115LBS: #8 MARINA RODRIGUEZ 12-1-2 VS #9 AMANDA RIBAS 10-1

  • Ribas has a lot of hype behind her and is riding a 5 fight win streak coming into this one.
  • Though just 2-1-2 since entering the UFC, Rodriguez 12-1-2 overall and has yet to be finished.
  • Ribas has a significant edge in grappling, and I expect to see that in play in this match up.
  • Ribas has attempted a submission in every UFC fight, except her match against Mackenzie Dern. Ribas did take the BJJ black belt down twice, though.
  • Rodriguez has been taken down multiple times in each fight when facing opponents with strong grappling and BJJ.
  • BET: RIBAS (look via SUB +300)

MIDDLEWEIGHT BOUT 185LBS: ANDREW SANCHEZ 12-5 VS MAKHMUD MURADOV 24-6

  • Muradov is riding a 13 fight win streak and hasn't lost in over 4 years.
  • 9 of Muradov’s last 11 wins have come by way of KO.
  • 3 of Sanchez’s last 4 losses have been via KO.
  • Sanchez has gone into the 3rd round in 8 of his last 9 fights.
  • BET: MURADOV -135

PRELIMS WAGERS

LIGHTWEIGHT BOUT 155LBS: ARMAN TSARUKYAN 15-2 VS MATT FREVOLA 8-1-1

  • This will be Frevola’s first fight outside of the US.
  • Frevola’s one loss is via KO, against Marco Polo Reyes, another big striker.
  • Frevola gets knocked down 1.30 times on average per 15-minute fight.
  • Tsarukyan has gone into the 3rd round in his last 8 fights, and all 3 of his UFC fights have gone to a decision.

MIDDLEWEIGHT BOUT 185LBS: #14 BRAD TAVARES 17-6 VS ANTONIO CARLOS JUNIOR 10-4

  • Striker vs. grappler matchup.
  • 8 of Carlos Jr’s 10 wins are via submission. Tavares has yet to be submitted in 23 pro fights.
  • Carlos Jr. will have a 5-inch reach advantage, but he has a very low SLpM output. (1.91)

WOMEN’S BANTAMWEIGHT BOUT 135LBS: #7 JULIANA PENA 9-4 VS #9 SARA MCMANN 12-5

  • Pena has the edge in all striking stats, while McMann holds the edge on the mat.
  • Pena’s last 3 wins are all via decision.
  • McMann is 9 years older than Pena.
  • McMann has lost 4 of the 8 fights she’s been slated as the favorite.
  • Pena has below average takedown defense. (29%)
  • I expect McMann to get the takedowns when needed and to take the majority of the rounds.
  • BET: MCMANN -130

LIGHT HEAVYWEIGHT BOUT 205LBS: KHALIL ROUNTREE 8-4 VS MARCIN PRACHNIO 13-5

  • Rountree has been out for over 15 months due to the pandemic and fight cancellations.
  • Rountree has never lost to a southpaw. (3-0)
  • Since entering the UFC, Prachnio is 0-3, losing via KO in the 1st round in all 3 fights.
  • All 5 of Rountree’s KO wins have come in the 1st round.
  • Don’t get caught speeding. Rountree has lost 4 out of 6 times he's been slated as the favorite.
  • Prachnio gets knocked down over 6 times on average per 15 minutes.
  • You know what to do.
  • BET: ROUNTREE/PRACHNIO U1.5 RDS -142

CATCHWEIGHT BOUT 150LBS: NIK LENTZ 30-11-2 VS MOVSAR EVLOEV 13-0

  • Evloev has gone to a decision in all 3 fights since entering the UFC.
  • Evloev is undefeated overall at 13-0.
  • First fight for both guys at 150lbs
  • Lentz is 10 years older than Evloev.

FLYWEIGHT BOUT 125LBS: AMIR ALBAZI 13-1 VS ZHALGAS ZHUMAGULOV 13-4

  • Albazi has never been finished and has won via finish in 12 of his 13 victories.
  • Zhumagulov has fought to a decision in 9 of his last 10 fights.
  • Albazi has won via submission in 4 of his last 5 wins. (All in Rd 1)

BET CONFIDENCE RANKING

  1. Rountree/Prachnio U1.5
  2. McGregor/Poirier U2.5
  3. Ribas
  4. Muradov
  5. McMann

TEMPTING WAGERS

  1. Rountree wins in round 1 +115
  2. Hooker via TKO/KO +200
  3. Pena/McMann U2.5 +183

A lot of you have requested week-after-week some parlay spots. Now I’m not a huge parlay guy at the end of the day, but I’d like to drop a new play for the readers this week, beginning with this card.

Let me introduce you to The Guppy Special. Now, this is no “whale play," and actually, it’s completely the opposite. This one is for pure entertainment purposes only. Many of you know that I’ve run the board a handful of times as I’ve thrown out predictions, and one of these week’s we will hit one of these “guppies.”

I’d say use this play to round your balance off at your book, and if we hit, we’re going to Sizzler.

UFC 257 GUPPY SPECIAL

(Note: odds via Draftkings)

Parlay pays +16401

  • Poirier/McGregor U2.5 Rounds
  • Hooker
  • Calderwood
  • Ribas
  • Carlos Junior
  • Rountree/Prachnio U1.5 Rounds
  • Muradov
  • McMann
  • Evloev
  • Tsarukyan
  • Azaitar

FULL CARD PREDICTIONS

  • CONOR MCGREGOR defeats DUSTIN POIRIER
  • DAN HOOKER defeats MICHAEL CHANDLER
  • JOANNE CALDERWOOD defeats JESSICA EYE
  • AMANDA RIBAS defeats MARINA RODRIGUEZ
  • ANTONIO CARLOS JUNIOR defeats BRAD TAVARES
  • SARA MCMANN defeats JULIANA PENA
  • KHALIL ROUNTREE defeats MARCIN PRACHNIO
  • MAKHMUD MURADOV defeats ANDREW SANCHEZ
  • MOVSAR EVLOEV defeats NIK LENTZ
  • AMIR ALBAZI defeats ZHALGAS ZHUMAGULOV

UFC PREDICTION BET SUMMARY

  • 2021 fight card predictions overall: 14-10 (58%)
  • 2021 targeted matchups (wagers): 10-11 (48%)

Be sure to check out DraftKings Sportsbook options as well, on top of the daily fantasy tournaments available for Saturday. The sportsbook has lines up and available for fight lines, method of victory, and round betting!

UFC 257 DFS Plays & Strategies

  • Choose active fighters. Coupling an active fighter on his/her way to a unanimous decision will give you key points for your team. Just like any other DFS traditional sport, you want the active, offensive player that scores. Key metrics here are SLpM and TD AVG/15min.
  • Play the heavyweights. The approximate overall finish rate in the UFC is 54%. Most weight divisions range from 40%-60%, while the heavyweights push a 75% finish rate. You will receive bonus points for finishes inside the distance.
  • Try always to include the main event or title fights. Five round fights mean more time to rack up points if you pick the right fighter. In some cases, even if you have the loser, the points can be more than a three-round winner.
  • Don’t get excited and rush a pick based on stats; consider sample size. Some fighters have limited fights compared to their opponents when looking at metrics. Stats could be exaggerated. Do your research. Watch for spots with debuting fighters as well. Always check the records of the opponents they faced on their way to the UFC. Always pull fight tape as well. You’d be surprised at what you will find.
  • Review methods of victory. I supply the finish rates within this article, and as you dive in, you can compare method of victory to method of loss for the matchups. For example, you can find matchups where Fighter A has a high % of submission victories matched up with Fighter B, with a high % of submission losses.

As mentioned in the tip sheet above, here’s my MMA DFS Heat Chart for UFC 257. As you can see, the chart is ranked based on fight finish odds. Fight finishes are where the points are in MMA DFS. Take a glance at the stack, and we will break down the individual matchups below.

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Two key offensive metrics are strikes and takedowns. They get off on their opponents; watch your points rack up quickly. Here's my Offensive Output Meter for the card. With this chart, you can compare historical fighter averages in these two key metrics as I rank all fighters participating Saturday.

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Screenshot (3)

UFC 257 DFS Recommendations

  • Fighters that typically press the action, land takedowns, and/or high finish rates matched up against those that get finished, roster. (see my charts above)
  • Fights projected to NOT go to a decision
    • Poirier/McGregor -425
    • Hooker/Chandler -125
    • Rountree/Prachnio -400
  • As usual, take a look at the main event with five rounds to score. Both fighters have upside based on pricing. I side with McGregor, but I expect Poirier at his price to be popular as well.
  • Top-tier fighters to build around include Rountree, McGregor, Ribas.
  • Mid-tier fighter considerations are Hooker, Calderwood, McMann.
  • Live dogs are Carlos Junior, Albazi. (People will play Poirier and Chandler. They will be higher owned on the low-end.)

Good luck everyone and I hope to see some of you cashing after Saturday night! Follow me on Twitter (@Y2CASEY).