A packed house is expected at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas for UFC 264 on Saturday, July 10, as one of the fiercest rivalries in professional mixed martial arts is renewed. Connor McGregor will try to avoid suffering consecutive losses for the first time in his career, as he faces off against fellow lightweight Dustin Poirier as a razor-thin favourite on the UFC 264 odds. These two former champions have clashed on two previous occasions, with McGregor emerging victorious in their first meeting almost seven years ago. However, Poirier exacted his revenge with a dominating victory in their recent rematch at UFC 257.
McGregor Aims to End Lightweight Losing Streak
Conor McGregor has his work cut out for him in his bid to avoid a third straight loss as a lightweight. A dominant force during his rise to the top of the UFC featherweight division, “Notorious” has struggled to maintain that success in his recent bouts against lightweight and welterweight contenders. McGregor was lucky to earn the split in a pair of epic welterweight clashes with Nick Diaz back in 2016, following up a second-round submission loss at UFC 196 with a controversial majority decision win at UFC 202 that also earned the 32-year-old Irishman a Fight of the Night bonus.
Conor McGregor’s reaction after his UFC 257 loss pic.twitter.com/BboB6rvLJa
— Athlete Swag (@AthleteSwag) January 24, 2021
It has been more of the same for McGregor in recent clashes with lightweight opponents. Notorious was dominant in his UFC lightweight debut against Eddie Alvarez, claiming the division title with a second-round win over a reigning champion whose skills were already in steady decline. Things have proven to be far tougher for McGregor in his two subsequent lightweight bouts. He was badly overmatched in his bid to reclaim the UFC lightweight title against Khabib Nurmagomedov at UFC 229, falling by submission in the fourth round. And while McGregor wasted no time disposing of Poirier in their featherweight matchup at UFC 178, he had no answer for Poirier in their rematch this past January at UFC 257.
UFC 178: Conor McGregor rocked Dustin Poirier to get a first round win…💥
UFC 257: McGregor to win by 1st Round KO/TKO: +200pic.twitter.com/hAPK0PdL7V
— PointsBet Sportsbook (@PointsBetUSA) January 23, 2021
The magic that earned McGregor a TKO win on punches just 106 seconds into his featherweight battle with Poirier seven years ago was but a distant memory in their recent rematch. Indeed, it was Poirier who looked like the rising star in his UFC 257 win over McGregor, knocking out the Dublin native in the second round to claim a well-earned Performance of the Night bonus while paying out as a lengthy underdog (3.50) at Bet365.
Can Notorious Avoid Controversial Distractions?
So what will McGregor have to do to earn the win in this highly anticipated rubber match? If recent reports are any indication, Notorious has been spending plenty of time preparing for this contest and claims to be in the best physical shape of his career. But while he may be physically prepared to face Poirier, it remains to be seen whether McGregor can keep his behaviour in check outside the octagon, and avoid the distractions that have marred his previous big fights.
McGregor told Poirier in an expletive-laden tweet.
“The fight is off btw [by the way]. I’m going to fight someone else on the 10th.”
— BBC Sport (@BBCSport) April 13, 2021
McGregor threatened to back out of this summer’s battle with Poirier in the wake of a Twitter spat between the two fighters over the Irishman’s alleged failure to make good on a promise to make a sizeable donation to a charitable organization supported by Poirier. He also sparked further controversy with his recent decision to purchase a Dublin-area pub, where he was caught on camera assaulting a 50-year-old regular two years ago. Following the purchase, McGregor announced that the man he assaulted would be barred from the pub, drawing heavy criticism for his pettiness.
— SMH (@BigSE5) November 1, 2019
However, if McGregor can resist the urge to make any further headlines for all the wrong reasons, and remain focused on fight preparation, he remains worthy of consideration at the sportsbooks. McGregor’s loss to Poirier marks the first time that he has been knocked out in 27 professional fights, and he now looks to his upcoming clash sporting the longest odds of his career when pegged as betting chalk. Both of those factors should provide him with ample motivation to remain focused on preparation and to avoid the overconfidence that proved so costly in January’s loss.
Poirier Demonstrating Confidence, Maturity
However, it remains to be seen whether the recent dose of humility served to McGregor will be enough to put him over the top against Poirier. “The Diamond” has come a long way since suffering that first-round loss to McGregor back in 2014. A cocky star on the rise in the featherweight division at that time, Poirier has matured considerably since then, posting wins in 11 of 13 fights including decisive victories over the likes of Max Holloway, Dan Hooker, and Justin Gaethje.
Fights that deserve to be remembered…
Holloway vs Poirier 2 – WHAT A FIGHTpic.twitter.com/iapkiO2coj
— Edward (@EdwardjMMA) April 27, 2021
Perhaps more important has been the ease with which Poirier has transitioned between the featherweight and lightweight divisions. The 32-year-old sports an impressive 10-2 record with one no-contest over his past 13 outings as a lightweight, with his only defeat over the past five years coming against Khabib in his bid for the UFC lightweight crown at UFC 242.
Versatility, Patience Key to Success for The Diamond
Poirier’s versatility has been key to his success during that stretch. While six of his past 10 wins as a lightweight have come by KO or TKO, he has also successfully gone the distance on three occasions and added a submission win over Anthony Pettis at UFC Fight Night 120 for good measure.
— fightline.com (@mmafightline) November 12, 2017
With the boost of confidence gained from January’s win over Notorious, look for Poirier to end this trilogy of fights with a victory inside the distance. In addition to the attractive odds at Bodog (1.95), where a $20 bet will return $39.05, Poirier also offers considerable value at the sportsbooks to hand McGregor a second straight defeat by KO, TKO, or DQ, with a $20 bet at Sports Interaction rewarding sports bettors with a $62 payday.