Just six months after Dustin Poirier stopped Conor McGregor with strikes and evened their rivalry, their tiebreaking fight will happen. In the main event of UFC 264, the promotion’s biggest star in McGregor will return to the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada, USA, but against a challenging opponent in Poirier, who has shown just recently that he is able to beat him.
The five-round grudge match headlines a 13-fight card that is set to happen on Saturday night. Here’s a full preview of the show.
Early Prelims (6:15PM EDT / 3:15PM PDT) (UFC Fight Pass)
Bout 1: Alen Amedovski (8-2) vs. Hu Yaozong (3-2) (Middleweight)
Middleweights Alen Amedovski and Hu Yaozong will fight to break two-fight losing streaks in the opening bout of the card.
Hu has competed in the UFC twice, although he has been out of the spotlight for quite some time now. His appearance on Saturday will be his first since late 2018. His two previous fights in the promotion were losses, facing Rashad Coulter and Cyril Asker. He had an undefeated record of three wins before entering the UFC.
Amedovski is also coming off a layoff, having not competed in 2020. The former Bellator fighter lost two bouts in his rookie year with the UFC, dropping battles to Krzysztof Jotko and John Phillips.
Bout 2: Zhalgas Zhumagulov (13-5) vs. Jerome Rivera (10-5) (Flyweight)
Similar to the opening bout, Zhalgas Zhumagulov and Jerome Rivera will be fighting for their first UFC win on the prelims.
Despite only being in the UFC for 10 months, Rivera has competed three times. He has lost all three of those fights, being finished with strikes in two of those appearances. His last was five months back, where Ode Osbourne stopped him in just 26 seconds with strikes.
Zhumagulov’s appearance on Saturday comes just one day short of his one-year anniversary in the UFC. His two previous UFC fights have seen him lose on scorecards thus far.
Bout 3: Omari Akhmedov (21-5-1) vs. Brad Tavares (18-6) (Middleweight)
Both coming off a win earlier this year, middleweights Brad Tavares and Omari Akhmedov will fight.
Tavares snapped a two-fight skid in January, fighting to a unanimous decision win over Antonio Carlos Junior. He had two losses before then, including a 2018 fight against now-UFC Middleweight Champion Israel Adesanya.
Much has been made this week of Tavares hitting his 10-year anniversary with the UFC in this fight. He has fought in the promotion 19 times, and has won in 13 of those appearances.
Akhmedov kicked off his 2021 with a submission, stopping Tom Breese in the second round of a fight with a triangle choke.
Bout 4: Jennifer Maia (18-7-1) vs. Jessica Eye (15-9) (Flyweight)
Making her first appearance since losing a title fight last year, Jennifer Maia will face Jessica Eye on Saturday’s prelims.
Maia fought Valentina Shevchenko in November, losing that bout via unanimous decision. The title fight was given to her after she defeated Joanne Calderwood earlier in the year, stealing her spot as the top title contender at that time.
Preliminary Card (8:00PM EDT / 5:00PM PDT) (ESPN / TSN 5)
Bout 5: Dricus Du Plessis (15-2) vs. Trevin Giles (14-2) (Middleweight)
Returning after his first UFC win, Dricus Du Plessis will fight Trevin Giles on Saturday.
Du Plessis got the call to join the UFC in October last year, replacing Rodolfo Vieira in a fight against Markus Perez. He scored a win in the fight, stopping Perez in the fourth minute with strikes. The former KSW Welterweight Champion will have the chance to earn his second UFC win on Saturday.
Giles is on a strong run currently, having won his past three fights in the octagon. His last victory was in March, where he handed Roman Dolidze his first pro loss.
Bout 6: Ryan Hall (8-1) vs. Ilia Topuria (10-0) (Featherweight)
The mysterious Ryan Hall will make his return on Saturday, facing undefeated middleweight Ilia Topuria.
Hall has not lost a bout since joining the UFC in 2015, having scored four wins in that time. Recent scrapped bouts have kept him sidelined since 2019. He’s not a stranger to long layoffs, as he was also sidelined for two years from 2016 to 2018.
Hall’s mystique, along with his intelligent grappling style has made him one that many have anticipated to see on Saturday.
Topuria has had an explosive run since turning pro in 2015. A number of his wins have come via first-round stoppage. That includes his last fight, which saw him stop Damon Jackson in the third minute with strikes. Through 10 pro wins, Topuria has two in the UFC cage.
Bout 7: Niko Price (14-4) vs. Michel Pereira (25-11) (Welterweight)
In what could be a wild matchup, Niko Price and Michel Pereira will meet in a welterweight bout.
Since entering the UFC, Pereira has had a reputation for being explosive and flashy in the octagon. Notably, he has finished many opponents and also done flips during his fights. While he lost two bouts in 2019 and early 2020, Pereira has since bounced back with two victories from last year. After capping off a dominant win over Zelim Imadaev with a third-round rear naked choke in September, Pereira returned in December to defeat Khaos Williams.
Price is also a flashy fighter, as all of his UFC wins have come via stoppage. He will be competing for his first win since 2019, as his fights in 2020 resulted in a loss and a no contest.
Bout 8: Max Griffin (17-8) vs. Carlos Condit (32-13) (Welterweight)
Rising welterweights Max Griffin and Carlos Condit will face off in the final bout on the prelims.
Condit, a former WEC Champion and UFC veteran of over a decade, made his return in 2020 on a five-fight losing streak. He prevailed from must-win circumstances, earning victories over Court McGee and Matt Brown to put him on a winning streak.
Griffin has earned finish victories in his past two appearances. Most recently, he finished Song Kenan within a round with punches.
Main Card (10:00PM EDT / 7:00PM PDT) (PPV)
Bout 9: Sean O’Malley (13-1) vs. Kris Moutinho (9-4) (Bantamweight)
UFC newcomer Kris Moutinho will try to stop the “Suga Show” in the opening slot of the pay-per-view, as he will fight Sean O’Malley at bantamweight.
Mountinho wasn’t the original opponent for O’Malley. Instead, he was selected last week after previous opponent Louis Smolka had to pull out due to injury. The withdrawal from Smolka caused numerous notable fighters inside and outside the promotion to call out O’Malley for a fight. While a frontrunner was seemingly Ricky Simon, UFC eventually opted for Moutinho.
Moutinho is entering the UFC with a pro record of nine wins and four losses. He has competed in CES and CFFC since turning pro in 2016. He is currently on a two-fight winning streak, including a submission win from two months ago over Bellator alum Andrew Salas.
O’Malley has put on impressive performances since joining the UFC in 2018. He bounced back from his sole pro loss earlier this year, finishing a dominant performance over Thomas Almeida with a third-round stoppage.
Bout 10: Irene Aldana (12-6) vs. Yana Kunitskaya (14-5) (Bantamweight)
Bantamweights Irene Aldana and Yana Kunitskaya are set to meet on Saturday’s main card.
Kunitskaya is currently on a two-fight winning streak, having defeated Julija Stoliarenko and Ketlen Vieira in recent appearances. A win on Saturday would put her on the longest personal winning streak since joining the UFC roster in 2018.
Aldana is fighting to come back after losing a main event fight to Holly Holm last year. The bout was Aldana’s first five-round UFC fight and snapped a two-fight winning streak for her.
Aldana missed weight for the fight, coming in three-and-a-half pounds over the non-championship bantamweight limit. She took a 30 percent purse deduction due to this.
Bout 11: Tai Tuivasa (12-3) vs. Greg Hardy (7-3) (Heavyweight)
Looking to build off what has been a strong past 12 months for Tai Tuivasa, he will face Greg Hardy on Saturday’s main card.
Tuivasa turned things around last year, going from being on a three-fight losing streak to gaining some momentum. Things kicked off in October, where he stopped veteran Stefan Struve within a round. He needed less than a minute in his last appearance, defeating Harry Hunsucker in March of this year.
Hardy took the toughest loss of his career so far in late 2020, being stopped in the second round of a fight by Marcin Tybura. The 32-year-old had two prior wins in the year.
Bout 12: Gilbert Burns (19-4) vs. Stephen Thompson (16-4-1) (Welterweight)
Competing for the first time since losing a title fight, Gilbert Burns will battle Stephen Thompson in the co-main event.
Burns battled UFC Welterweight Champion Kamaru Usman earlier this year, getting finished early in the third round due to strikes. The title fight was the peak of a quick climb up the welterweight division, scoring four wins in the weight class after previously attaining two consecutive victories at lightweight. He secured the title shot last year after a dominant five-round win over former champion Tyron Woodley.
Thompson will be fighting for his third consecutive win. The veteran welterweight last fought in the final show of 2020, battling to a decision win over Geoff Neal in the main event.
Bout 13: Dustin Poirier (27-6) vs. Conor McGregor (22-5) (Lightweight)
Fighting in their trilogy bout, lightweights Dustin Poirier and Conor McGregor will headline Saturday night’s UFC card.
The hype surrounding the fight all focuses on whether McGregor can get back to his winning ways. As it has been reflected in just the lead-up to this fight, McGregor is still popular. However, there is concern that yet another loss could greatly detriment his pull in the public. As he was mocked for during a press conference earlier this week, he has won one fight since the end of Barack Obama’s presidency (2016). That win was in early 2020, where he stopped Donald Cerrone in 40 seconds with strikes.
McGregor has been inactive in recent years, with his fight on Saturday being the first time he competes for more than once within a year since 2016. His second meeting in his rivalry against Poirier was in January. The fight saw McGregor aggressive early, with Poirier being able to close in on a stoppage in the second round.
The first time Poirier and McGregor fought was a long time ago – 2014. That fight went the way of McGregor, who finished the fight in the second minute with strikes. The win was part of McGregor’s initial UFC run that carried him up to the UFC Featherweight Championship.
With numerous years separating the first and second fight yet but only months between the rematch and the trilogy, McGregor has been given little time to improve. We’ll find out on Saturday if he has made breakthroughs in that time to beat Poirier.