UFC 264 is all wrapped up and what a card it was! We had backflips into mount, several awesome knockouts, tremendous plays of toughness, a sick standing guillotine, and then unfortunately a gnarly end to the main event.
Dustin Poirier took the trilogy over Conor McGregor and it only took a round. Poirier dominated McGregor on the ground and busted him up with big shots, but it was a sequence in the final seconds of the round that saw McGregor fall back after taking an awkward step and it broke something. Don’t know if it was his ankle or his leg altogether but it was nasty and the fight obviously couldn’t continue. Poirier said McGregor hurt his own ankle when Dustin checked one of the several leg kicks Conor threw. If true, then that’s a whole level of irony that you can’t believe. And extra irony that Conor said Poirier would leave on a stretcher and instead it was him.
The ending was unfortunate but there’s no doubt that at the time of the stoppage, Poirier was in control. McGregor’s ill-advised guillotines when Dustin shot for takedowns led to an ass kicking and tons of brutal elbows that busted Conor’s left ear open. When he did get back up, the injury occurred, more punches followed and obviously no way Conor could fight in Round 2.
If the fight itself disappointed you for it ending on a bad injury, fear not! Because Poirier had enough of Conor’s trash talk and also told the crowd “All of you booing me, you can kiss my whole asshole!” He also pulled up McGregor for saying he would murder him, at which point Dustin made a “karma” quip. Then McGregor’s post-fight interview was as clear a “jump the shark” moment as I’ve ever seen. He still took shots at Poirier’s wife Jolie and then claimed he was beating Dustin up. You can even hear him demanding the official ruling be a doctor stoppage TKO and not by strikes. Unbelievable. Conor was going “this is not over!” and was yelling something about if he could take this fight outside it’d be different. Well you can’t.
Poirier got his trilogy win, he will fight Charles Oliveira for the undisputed belt next. McGregor, assuming the injury is as serious as it looked, is done for 2021 and who knows what his career will look like now? But as I said earlier, he jumped the shark with that ridiculous post-fight interview. If his early years looked like promotional brilliance, his more recent efforts on the mic come off like that off a deluded, petulant child.
More thoughts below:
- Good lord. Why did ESPN put Max Kellerman, Stephen A. Smith, and Teddy Atlas all on this card? That’s all I’ve got to say there.
- Unfortunately, Gilbert Burns vs. Stephen Thompson was a bit of a downer in terms of excitement. Burns did do what no one has really done against Wonderboy since Matt Brown in 2012, and that’s consistently take him down. His takedowns nullified much of Thompson’s offense and his control was largely enough to win him the fight. Wonderboy did flash knockdown Burns and get the better of him on the feet in the 3rd, but it was not nearly enough. Burns returns to his winning ways and surely dashes Wonderboy’s hopes of ever getting another title shot. One thing is for sure: neither one of them made Kamaru Usman shudder tonight.
- Burns got away with at least five clean shots to the back of the head at the end of the fight and he’s lucky he didn’t get any apparent warning or have a point taken. I mean those were not close.
- WE STAN FOR TAI TUIVASA! The man walks out to the Spice Girls, drinks beer out of shoes, and most heroically knocked Greg Hardy out while hurt himself. It was almost reminiscent of Cheick Kongo vs. Pat Barry except Tuivasa wasn’t dropped twice before the comeback. Hardy had Tuivasa hurt and doing the funny dance, but he rushed in like an idiot and left his face wide open for Tuivasa’s left fist to smash to smithereens. Fight. Over. What a crazy minute and change that was. May that be the end of Greg Hardy’s UFC relevance... unless you want him to get knocked out some more, in which case list the names you want to see him fight!
- Irene Aldana got back in the win column with a first-round TKO of Yana Kunitskaya. She floored Kunitskaya with a left hook and eventually finished the fight on the ground with Yana basically turtled up in a pseudo-surrender position. Aldana does get dinged for badly missing weight but the Mexican women’s bantamweight contender really is such a dangerous opponent largely because her boxing is so crisp.
- I don’t know what Kris Moutinho’s head is made of but what he lacks in... well any defense, he makes up for with a ridiculous chin. Sean O’Malley landed literally north of 70% of his significant strikes and slammed home 230 shots (mostly to the head). Moutinho was knocked down in round one but other than that largely ate clean punches like they were nothing, but Herb Dean figured enough was enough with only 30 seconds left in the fight... much to the dismay of the fans. Was it a good stoppage by Herb? I don’t know. Boxing stoppages can look exactly like that and also the corner could’ve called it, but somehow it would’ve actually been amazing if he made the last 30 seconds. Moutinho gets points for toughness and taking this on short notice, but this was very much a squash match and O’Malley did what he had to do. Even he didn’t think Moutinho would last that long, though.
- Max Griffin elected to strike all the way with Carlos Condit, and it pretty much worked. He was successful with the leg kicks early and then his power shots had Condit rocked and dropped in the opening round. Condit fared well in round two especially behind the jab as Griffin appeared to slow, but Max clearly took round three and again hurt ‘The Natural Born Killer’ to seal victory. Griffin has won three straight and denied Condit his third straight win. Father Time is unbeaten and while Condit may have something still left, it’s approaching the end for him.
- Remember when you were a kid and you’d take your favorite action figures and just slam them into each other over and over? That’s basically what the UFC matchmaking team had in mind when Michel Pereira vs. Niko Price was booked. Just total chaos as expected and somehow it went the distance. We even got Pereira backflipping his way into full mount in round two. Pereira predictably faded but he built up a 2-0 lead on the scorecards and Niko was just as tired, so even his spirited third-round comeback wasn’t enough. What a war and it was everything we hoped it would be.
- Ryan Hall’s never-ending string of Imanari rolls, spinning kicks, and other weird shit didn’t pan out against Spain’s Ilia Topuria. One failed spin too many cost Hall late in round one, as Topuria got on top in the scramble and got into a position where he could punch the jiu-jitsu specialist really hard in the face without risking getting subbed. In a matter of seconds he was out cold and didn’t know what happened. Hall’s first UFC fight in two years is a brutal KO loss and Topuria continues to show he has serious potential to be a major name at featherweight.
- In a striking exchange you’re not advised to pull back with your hands down, or else you’ll end up like Trevin Giles did versus Dricus Du Plessis. That one mistake by Giles was capitalized by the South African, who laid Trevin out with a heavy right hand and then followed up with ground shots for the KO. Two fights, two big KOs for Du Plessis, and he just became the first to KO Giles.
- As expected, there wasn’t a whole lot to separate Jennifer Maia and Jessica Eye, but Maia’s counterstriking was vital in answering Eye’s pressure and forward movement. This battle of former flyweight title challengers went Maia’s way by unanimous decision, sending Eye to her straight straight loss. Jessica also suffered a nasty cut on the forehead as a result of a second round clash of heads.
- The veteran middleweight Brad Tavares put in a measured and slick performance on his way to outpointing Omari Akhmedov by split decision, as one judge somehow gave Akhmedov more than one round. Akhmedov landed some heavy power shots early but he never got his wrestling going and his lead leg was chewed up by Tavares’ low kicks. Can you believe Brad has had 20 UFC fights? Well it’s true and he’s still a top-15 fighter in his division.
- Zhalgas Zhumagulov got the night started with an absolutely nasty standing guillotine choke of Jerome Rivera. Over and done with in barely two minutes and snatched so quickly after hurting Rivera with a left hand. It’s a great win for Zhumagulov but also Rivera’s UFC career is surely over after a fourth straight defeat.