UFC are set to hold their first pay-per-view event of 2021 on Saturday, presenting UFC 257 from the Etihad Arena in Yas Island, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.
Headlining the card is a five-round non-championship fight between Conor McGregor and Dustin Poirier.
Follow along throughout the evening for live updates on the event.
Early Prelims (7:00PM EST / 4:00AM GST) (UFC Fight Pass)
Preliminary Card (8:00PM EST / 5:00AM GST) (ESPN+ / TSN 5)
Main Card (10:00PM EST / 7:00AM GST) (PPV)
Bout 11: Dustin Poirier (26-6) vs. Conor McGregor (22-4) (Lightweight)
Poirier Floors McGregor With Punches, Hands Former Two-Division Champ Loss
Dustin Poirier handed Conor McGregor his fifth loss as a pro in the main event, stringing together a combo of punches in the second round that would hurt the former two-division champ and cause an end to their fight.
Poirier saw an opening halfway through the second round, stunning McGregor with a left hand. He continued to storm McGregor with punches against the cage until he dropped him, making the referee end the bout.
McGregor looked comfortable before finding himself in trouble, landing his own shots that landed clean on Poirier. Poirier was careful and calculated in the first round of the bout.
Poirier connected with over a dozen leg kicks in the fight, which visibly started to hurt McGregor by the second round.
Poirier declared himself an unofficial lightweight champion after the fight, as the UFC Lightweight Championship is currently vacant following the retirement of Khabib Nurmagomdeov in 2020.
The fight on Saturday was McGregor’s first in over a year. His last fight was a one-round win over Donald Cerrone in January of 2020.
McGregor claimed his time outside of the cage attributed to his struggle on Saturday.
“It’s hard to overcome inactivity over a long period of time … Inactivity, that’s it,” said McGregor in his post-fight interview.
McGregor went on to say that he plans to fight again in 2021.
Poirier entered the fight riding the momentum of a main event win over the summer against Dan Hooker.
The fight between McGregor and Poirier the second time the two fighters competed against one another.
Their first meeting was in 2014, where McGregor stopped Poirier in the second minute of competition with punches. The fight was held at featherweight, a weight class that both fighters have since moved up from.
Bout 10: Dan Hooker (20-9) vs. Michael Chandler (21-5) (Lightweight)
Chandler Defeats Hooker In Explosive UFC Debut
Former Bellator Lightweight Champion Michael Chandler showcased his explosive punches in his UFC debut, stopping Dan Hooker within a round with strikes.
Chandler floored Hooker halfway through the opening round with a left hook. Follow-up punches on the ground continued to hurt Hooker until the referee stopped the bout.
The bout was Chandler’s first in the UFC after a decade in Bellator. He finished his Bellator run with a strong win in August, stopping former UFC fighter Benson Henderson in the first round.
After his win, Chandler called out Conor McGregor, Dustin Poirier and retired former UFC Lightweight Champion Khabib Nurmagomedov.
Hooker was returning after a five-round decision loss to Dustin Poirier in 2020.
Bout 9: Jessica Eye (15-8) vs. Joanne Calderwood (14-5) (Flyweight)
Sharp Striking Leads Calderwood To Decision Win Over Eye
Joanne Calderwood picked up a scorecard win on the main card against Jessica Eye. The unanimous decision win saw Calderwood win after sharp striking throughout all three rounds (30-27, 30-27 & 29-28).
The win was Calderwood’s first after dropping a bout to Jennifer Maia in 2020.
The loss for Calderwood last year came after a fight of hers against UFC Flyweight Champion Valentina Shevchenko was cancelled. Having lost her fight against Maia, Calderwood also lost the spot of being next in line for a title shot.
When asked if she wants to fight for a title next, Caldwood seemed happy with whatever they would put in front of her.
“If they want me to go out and fight 10 more girls I’m good for that too,” said Calderwood in her post-fight interview.
Eye was returning on Saturday after a five-round decision loss to Cynthia Calvillo over the summer
Bout 8: Andrew Sanchez (12-5) vs. Makhmud Muradov (24-6) (Middleweight)
Muradov Puts Together Punches To Finish Sanchez In The Third Round
Makhmud Muradov continued his UFC campaign on Saturday, putting together punches in the third round that took Andrew Sanchez out of the fight.
Muradov hurt Sanchez in the third minute of the final round with an overhand right. Follow-up punches from Murdaov made Sanchez shell up while on his feet, causing the referee to eventually end the fight.
Muradov had strong striking in the rounds before the finish as well.
The victory was Muradov’s third since making his UFC debut in 2019.
Sanchez entered the fight following the momentum of a stoppage win against Wellington Turman in August.
Bout 7: Marina Rodriguez (12-1-2) vs. Amanda Ribas (10-1) (Strawweight)
Rodriguez Hands Ribas First UFC Loss, Finishing Her With Punches In The Second Round
Marina Rodriguez earned her first win in over a year to start the main card, catching Amanda Ribas with punches in the second round. The win for Rodriguez came after an odd finish sequence.
Ribas was hurt early in the second round, being dropped by a right hook from Rodriguez. While Ribas was clearly down and hurt, Rodriguez stopped punching as she thought referee Herb Dean intervened. The awkward break allowed Ribas to return to her feet.
Rodriguez landed more shots on the feet before the referee stopped the fight.
Rodriguez returned to the win column after a draw and a loss in her last two fights. Her previous fight was a split decision loss to Carla Esparza.
Ribas entered the fight with a large amount of momentum, as she was riding a four-fight win streak that she gained since joining the UFC in 2019. Ribas earned her biggest win in July, stopping Paige VanZant within a round with an armbar.
Bout 6: Arman Tsarukyan (15-2) vs. Matt Frevola (8-1-1) (Lightweight)
Tsarukyan Picks Up Decision Win Against Short-Notice Opponent Frevola
Arman Tsarukyan put together a strong performance on the prelims, defeating Matt Frevola in a unanimous decision fight (30-27, 30-27 & 30-26). Tsarukyan used his takedowns and grappling on the ground to control Frevola.
The fight between Tsarukyan and Frevola was put together on Friday after both of their original opponents were removed from the card.
Frevola’s opponent, Ottman Azaitar, was taken out of the lineup and cut from the UFC roster after violating rules in the promotion’s COVID-19 “safety zone” protocols.
Nasrat Haqparast, the original opponent for Tsarukyan, withdrew from the fight due to illness.
The win on Saturday was Tsarukyan’s third since joining the UFC in 2019. His most recent win before this weekend was against Davi Ramos in July of 2020.
Frevola also entered the fight following two wins.
Tsarukyan missed weight for the fight by one pound. A percentage of his fight purse was given to Frevola due to this.
Bout 5: Brad Tavares (17-6) vs. Antonio Carlos Junior (10-4) (Middleweight)
Tavares Uses Striking To End Losing Streak
Brad Tavares won in his return to the cage on Saturday, defeating Antonio Carlos Junior on scorecards (30-27, 30-27 & 29-28).
Tavares earned his win by resisting takedown attempts and scoring with strikes throughout the fight.
Tavares hurt Carlos Junior late in the second round with a right cross. Carlos Junior was struck in the groin during an exchange shortly after, allowing him to get a short break from the fight.
Carlos Junior shot for numerous takedowns throughout the fight, although Tavares was able to stop them.
Both fighters entered the fight after losing their two previous bouts.
Tavares’ last fight was in November of 2019, where he was stopped by Edmen Shahbazyan.
Carlos Junior’s two losses in his current skid were fights that went to decision in 2019.
Bout 4: Sara McMann (12-5) vs. Julianna Pena (9-4) (Bantamweight)
Pena Secures Rear Naked Choke To Earn Win
Julianna Pena earned a submission victory on the prelims, stopping Sara McMann late in the fight with a rear naked choke.
The submission came after Pena scored a trip takedown in the final round. Landing in side control, Pena moved to the back of McMann where she scored with hammerfist punches before getting the choke.
McMann succeeded with takedowns in the two previous rounds.
Pena bounced back from a loss, as her previous fight saw her get stopped by Germaine de Randamie with strikes.
Pena called out UFC Bantamweight Champion Amanda Nunes after her win.
Bout 3: Khalil Rountree (8-4) vs. Marcin Prachnio (13-5) (Light Heavyweight)
Prachnio Earns First UFC Win, Ends Losing Streak
Marcin Prachnio picked up his first UFC win on the prelims, taking a unanimous decision win against Khalil Rountree (29-28, 29-28 & 29-28).
The win for Prachnio was important, as he was risking falling into a four-fight losing streak that would have likely sounded the end of his UFC career.
The fight, which took place completely in stand-up, saw Prachnio connect with more strikes than Rountree.
Rountree hurt Prachnio with a right hook in the final minute of the second round, knocking him down to a knee for a moment. Prachnio continued to look wobbled for the rest of the round, eating more shots while staying on his feet.
Prachnio landed a higher volume of strikes late in the fight as cardio caused Rountree to slow down significantly.
Prachnio’s UFC career before Saturday was short and unsuccessful. He earned his third-straight stoppage loss in August to Mike Rodriguez.
Rountree was returning to action after being absent from the cage since September of 2019. His previous bout was a stoppage loss to Ion Cutelaba.
Bout 2: Nik Lentz (30-11-2) vs. Movsar Evloev (13-0) (Catchweight 150 lbs)
Evloev Continues Undefeated Run With Win Over Lentz
Movsar Evloev continued his undefeated run on the preliminary card, defeating Nik Lentz in a split decision (29-28 Lentz, 29-28 Evloev & 29-28 Evloev). Evloev’s striking is what guided him to his victory.
Combinations of punches from the undefeated prospect did damage that became quite visible on Lentz’s face late in the fight.
Lentz’s best round was the first, where he was able to work on the ground from his back, attempting a guillotine choke twice.
The win was Evloev’s fourth since joining the UFC. His previous fight was a decision victory over Mike Grundy in July of 2020.
Lentz is now on a three-fight losing streak. His previous losses in the run came against Charles Oliveira and Arnold Allen.
Bout 1: Amir Albazi (13-1) vs. Zhalgas Zhumagulov (13-4) (Flyweight)
Albazi Claims Second UFC Victory, Defeats Zhumagulov on Scorecards
Amir Albazi picked up his second UFC win to kick off the card, defeating Zhalgas Zhumagulov via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28 & 29-28). The fight saw Albazi put together strong strikes and grappling after losing the first round of the fight.
Zhumagulov had a strong first round, putting together good strikes and scoring two takedowns.
Albazi had better striking in the second round and was able to deny takedown attempts.
Albazi controlled most of the final round on the ground. After landing a takedown early in the round, Albazi was able to get on the back of Zhumagulov and look for a rear naked choke.
Despite winning, Albazi was disappointed that he didn’t finish the fight.
“I’m feeling great, but I like to finish fights to be honest,” said Albazi in his post-fight interview.
Albazi dedicated his fight to Baghdad, Iraq, which was the victim of suicide bombings earlier in the week that claimed at least 32 lives.
Albazi won his UFC debut in his previous bout, defeating Malcolm Gordon back in July with a triangle choke.
Zhumagulov’s UFC debut in 2020 was a loss. Matched against Raulian Paiva, Zhumagulov lost via decision in July.