UFC 257, the first pay-per-view of 2021, is in the books with Dustin Poirier scoring a sensational second-round knockout win over Conor McGregor.
In a rematch of their first bout in 2014, Poirier withstood McGregor’s early attacks before chopping away at the Irishman’s lead right leg and knocking him out midway through the second round.
In the co-main event, Michael Chandler made a memorable UFC debut by knocking out New Zealand’s Dan Hooker in the first round and then calling out McGregor, Poirier and Khabib Nurmagomedov.
Read on below for all the postfight analysis and breakdowns from a brilliant day of fights.
Dustin Poirier is a real one
By his own admission, the Dustin Poirier who lost to Conor McGregor in 2014 was an angry and easily insecure man. He was overhyped and intimidated when he fell to a stunning first-round knockout to a McGregor on the rise.
Not so this time around.
Poirier has gone up a weight class, won some, lost a few and fought for a world title (and an interim one). Outside the Octagon, he matured, had a daughter and dived headfirst into his charity work.
The 2021 version of Poirier is more centered, calmer and more at peace with himself.
“I’m happy. I’m happy in the place I am and with who I see in the mirror,” he said after the biggest win of his career.
In wins over Jim Miller, Anthony Pettis, Justin Gaethje, Eddie Alvarez, Max Holloway and Hooker, Poirier has legitimate claims to being the most entertaining fighter on the UFC roster.
And although he’s had plenty of headline spots and title fights on big cards, he never really got the broader fame his resume and charity work deserve.
That will change now.
With the eyes of the world watching, Poirier just handed McGregor one of his most resounding defeats, and was all class in his postfight interview.
Onward and upward for Dustin Poirier, a real one in every sense.
McGregor done in by inactivity
McGregor admitted immediately after the loss that his long time out of the cage was telling.
He returned against Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone last year, but the fight didn’t last a minute. His last real Octagon outing was his 2018 lightweight title fight against Khabib.
The rust is real, and it showed.
McGregor landed well but wasn’t quite in the zone as Poirier countered well and landed plenty of leg kicks.
What’s next for Poirier and McGregor?
If Khabib really has retired, the UFC 257 main event should have been for the lightweight title.
It wasn’t, but Poirier should be fighting for the belt later this year. Against who? Charles Oliveira maybe, or Khabib if he decided to keep fighting. Maybe Chandler earned a shot at the title already.
As for McGregor . . .
A third Nate Diaz bout looks pretty good. I’d also watch him fight Poirier a third time, too.
Introducing Michael Chandler
Chandler just put on one of the most impressive UFC debuts in recent memory.
Not only did the former Bellator lightweight champion land a massive shot that dropped the Hangman, before ending it with ground and pound, the 34-year-old then cut a sensational promo.
Chandler joins the likes of Eddie Alvarez, Gaethje and Ben Askren in debuting in the UFC off the back of standout careers in other promotions.
Undoubtedly his was the best, and he’s already in line for a shot at the 155-pound belt in the not-too-distant future.
Hooker didn’t retire, did he?
Hooker couldn’t get anything off in the amount of time his fight with Chandler lasted.
Afterward, as Bruce Buffer was reading out the result, the Kiwi could be seen undoing the tape on his gloves and pulling them off.
According to Daniel Cormier in commentary, Hooker threw the gloves on the ground and left him in the cage, usually a sign that a fighter intends to retire.
I genuinely hope that isn’t the case.
Herb, we need to talk
When you referee as many high-profile fights over such a long time as Herb Dean has, you’re bound to make the odd mistake or two along the way.
It seemed as though the veteran ref was stopping the strawweight bout between Marina Rodriguez and Amanda Ribas when Ribas was caught with a right hand in the second round. Instead, he stepped in but pulled up short, making Rodriguez think she’d won.
The fight continued and Rodriguez won a short time later, but it wasn’t a good look and it isn’t the first time he’s gotten it wrong.
Julianna Pena calls out Amanda Nunes . . . and Nunes hits back
Pena earned a third-round RNC submission win over fellow UFC veteran Sarah McMann and then promptly called out Nunes, claiming the longtime bantamweight champion was ducking her.
It didn’t take long for Nunes to respond.
What was in the bag?
Yeah, I’m gonna need to know what was in the bag one of Ottman Azaitar’s boys delivered to him on Fight Island.
If you don’t know the backstory, hit this link right here, but the short version of it goes like this: Less than a day out from his scheduled fight with Matt Frevola, Azaitar was sensationally cut from the UFC entirely after he and his team gave their security wristbands to several other people who were then able to enter the bubble of the W Hotel.
According to UFC president Dana White, one of the men who were given a wristband “showed up here with a bag, went into a room, shimmied across four balconies, went in his room, dropped off the bag, changed his clothes and then left.”
And, I just need to know what was in the bag.
For the record, White said he had “no clue” what was in the bag.
Issues with ESPN+ after streaming crackdown
White talked a big game about clamping down on illegal streamers ahead of UFC 257, but on fight night it was the legal stream having issues.
When the pay-per-view portion of the card kicked off, MMA fans, fighters and even other celebrities flooded Twitter saying ESPN+ wasn’t letting them access the broadcast.
Wonder if the two were related.
They’re apparently so fixated on illegal streamers they forgot to take care of their legal ones
— Dave Doyle (@davedoylemma) January 24, 2021
This is wild. 25 minutes into the PPV and still can’t access it. Fun times!
— Shaheen Al-Shatti (@shaunalshatti) January 24, 2021