UFC will hold their first pay-per-view event of the year on Saturday, as star lightweight Conor McGregor will fight Dustin Poirier in the main event of UFC 257. The non-championship bout headlines a card that is set to happen at the Etihad Arena in Yas Island, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. Here’s a preview of the entire event.
Early Prelims (7:00PM EST / 4:00AM GST) (UFC Fight Pass)
Bout 1: Amir Albazi (13-1) vs. Zhalgas Zhumagulov (13-4) (Flyweight)
Both competing in the UFC for the second time in their careers, Amir Albazi and Zhalgas Zhumagulov will fight on the preliminary card. Both of the fighters made their UFC debuts in July of 2020, although their fights produced a different outcome.
Zhumagulov made his UFC debut at UFC 251, where he lost a decision to Raulian Paiva.
Albazi won his UFC debut in 2020, defeating Malcolm Gordon within a round with a triangle choke.
Bout 2: Nik Lentz (30-11-2) vs. Movsar Evloev (13-0) (Lightweight)
Undefeated talent Movsar Evloev will get a test on Saturday, as he will face experienced lightweight Nik Lentz. Evloev has had a strong UFC run since joining the promotion in 2019. He picked up his third UFC victory in July, where he defeated Mike Grundy on scorecards.
Lentz will attempt to snap a two-fight losing streak. The two previous losses in his streak came against Charles Oliveira and Arnold Allen.
Preliminary Card (8:00PM EST / 5:00AM GST) (ESPN+ / TSN 5)
Bout 3: Khalil Rountree (8-4) vs. Marcin Prachnio (13-5) (Light Heavyweight)
Put in a must-win scenario, Marcin Prachnio has been paired against Khalil Rountree on the prelims. Prachnio, a former ONE Championship fighter, has yet to win since joining the UFC in 2018. After a loss to Mike Rodriguez in August, Prachnio is now on a three-fight losing streak.
He now fights Rountree, who is returning after more than a year outside of the cage. His last fight was in September of 2019, where he was stopped by strikes in the first round.
Bout 4: Sara McMann (12-5) vs. Julianna Pena (9-4) (Bantamweight)
Bantamweights Sara McMann and Julianna Pena will compete as part of Saturday’s undercard. McMann is returning after being absent from action for just under a year. Her last win was in January of 2020, where she snapped a two-fight losing streak with a win over Lina Lansberg.
Pena lost her last fight, being caught in a guillotine choke in the third round by Germaine de Randamie. She has won three out of her last five fights.
Bout 5: Brad Tavares (17-6) vs. Antonio Carlos Junior (10-4) (Middleweight)
Both attempting to bounce back from a two-fight losing streak, Brad Tavares and Antonio Carlos Junior will fight on Saturday. Tavares has lost his past two fights, dropping bouts to UFC Middleweight Champion Israel Adesanya and Edmen Shahbazyan. The fight on Saturday will be his return, as his last fight was in November of 2019.
Similarly, Carlos Junior did not fight in 2020. His two fights, decision losses against Ian Heinisch and Uriah Hall, took place in 2019.
Bout 6: Arman Tsarukyan (15-2) vs. Matt Frevola (8-1-1) (Lightweight)
Lightweights Arman Tsarukyan and Matt Frevola will compete to finish the preliminary. The matchup between the two wasn’t made until Friday when both of their original opponents were removed from the card.
Frevola was first meant to fight undefeated Ottman Azaitar. The UFC removed Azaitar from the card after he reportedly violated the promotion’s “Safety Zone” rules, attempting to sneak someone into the property that is isolated due to COVID-19 protocol. Along with his removal from the fight, Azaitar was cut from the UFC roster.
Nasrat Haqparast, the original opponent of Tsarukyan, withdrew from the fight due to illness.
Tsarukyan has won his last two fights, taking decision wins against Olivier Aubin-Mercier and Davi Ramos. Frevola earned his last two victories in 2019, where he defeated Jalin Turner and Luis Pena.
Tsarukyan missed weight for the fight by one pound and will have some of his fight purse deducted because of it.
Main Card (10:00PM EST / 7:00AM GST) (PPV)
Bout 7: Marina Rodriguez (12-1-2) vs. Amanda Ribas (10-1) (Strawweight)
Looking to continue her undefeated run in the UFC, Amanda Ribas will fight Marina Rodriguez to kick off the main card. Since joining the UFC in 2019, Ribas has won four fights in the strawweight division. Ribas had her biggest win in July, defeating Paige VanZant in the first round with an armbar.
Rodriguez took her first loss as a pro that same month, dropping a split decision to Carla Esparza. Before then, Rodriguez had two wins and two draws in her career.
Being placed as the opener on the pay-per-view portion of the card that is expected to attract a ton of attention, the winner of the fight could get a large amount of traction.
Bout 8: Andrew Sanchez (12-5) vs. Makhmud Muradov (24-6) (Middleweight)
Andrew Sanchez and Makhmud Muradov will compete on Saturday’s main card.
Muradov made his UFC debut in September of 2019, defeating Alessio Di Chirico via decision. He picked up another win three months later, defeating Trevor Smith. Muradov had trouble finding a fight in 2020, as four different bookings in the year fell through for various reasons.
Sanchez returned to the win column in his last fight, as he stopped Wellington Turman in first round with strikes back in August. The season 23 winner of “The Ultimate Fighter” has a UFC record of five wins and three losses.
Bout 9: Jessica Eye (15-8) vs. Joanne Calderwood (14-5) (Flyweight)
The third highest fight on the card is scheduled to be between Jessica Eye and Joanne Calderwood. Both flyweights enter the fight after having a 50/50 record in their last four fights.
Eye lost a main event in her last bout, losing a five-round decision to Cynthia Calvillo. Before then, she had a decision win against Viviane Araujo.
Calderwood was stopped by an armbar within a round in her last fight by Jennifer Maia. She had a scorecard win in her previous fight, defeating Andrea Lee in a split decision.
Bout 10: Dan Hooker (20-9) vs. Michael Chandler (21-5) (Lightweight)
Before the high-profile lightweight main event, an important lightweight fight will take place in the co-main spot. Making his UFC debut, Michael Chandler will fight Dan Hooker. Chandler, a former Bellator Lightweight Champion, will fight outside of his former promotion for the first time since 2010. Chandler concluded his Bellator run on a high note, stopping former UFC fighter Benson Henderson within a round with punches in 2020.
While Chandler has been with the UFC since the summer, his fight on Saturday will be his first in the promotion. He was an alternate for the last UFC Lightweight Championship fight between Khabib Nurmagomedov and Justin Gaethje, meaning he was willing to step in if someone got removed from the fight.
Bout 11: Dustin Poirier (26-6) vs. Conor McGregor (22-4) (Lightweight)
Returning for his first fight in a year, former two-division UFC champ Conor McGregor will fight Dustin Poirier in the main event.
McGregor’s last fight was very much billed like this one is – as a return. His January 2020 fight against Donald Cerrone ended quickly, as McGregor was able to finish the fight in under a minute with strikes. The fight was McGregor’s first MMA fight since losing a lightweight title fight to Khabib Nurmagomedov in October of 2018.
McGregor made headlines earlier in the week unrelated to his fight, as a lawsuit was filed against him in Ireland that alleged sexual assault.
Poirier’s last fight was a five-round fight, defeating Dan Hooker via decision back in June. Similar to McGregor, the fight for Poirier was his first after losing a title fight to Nurmagomedov.
The fight between Poirier and McGregor is a rematch from 2014. The first meeting between the lightweights saw McGregor prevail, stopping Poirier in the second minute of action with punches.