Insert Return of the Mack by Mark Morrison here, because Mystic Mac is back! Conor McGregor makes his long awaited return to the octagon this Saturday in a rematch against “The Diamond” Dustin Poirier. Any card headlined by Conor McGregor is bound to do well in PPV buys, but don’t sleep on the rest of the card. The co-main event is the welcoming party of Michael Chandler, former Bellator Lightweight Champion, against rising contender Dan Hooker. I have a good feeling that we are going to start off the year strong. Let’s dive into the UFC 257 preview and predictions.
Marina Rodriguez X Amanda Ribas (Women’s Strawweight Bout)
The Main Card’s first fight is a showcase of two top-10 contenders looking to crack their way into title contention. Marina Rodriguez is coming off a razor close split-decision loss to former champion Carla Esparza back in July of 2020, her only professional loss. She looks to get back on the right track against Amanda Ribas, winner of her last 5 including wins over Paige VanZant and Mackenzie Dern. Ribas, a black belt in BJJ and Judo, will surely look to take this fight to the ground and make it a war. I always tend to lean towards those who can grapple and submit folks. I am giving the nod to Ribas here, as her rise in the Strawweight ranks continues with an impressive showcase. Ribas via second-round submission
Andrew Sanchez X Makhmud Muradov (Middleweight Bout)
Andrew Sanchez and Makhmud Muradov is a questionable fight to have on the main card (personally, I would have chosen Pena vs McCann) but it’s there so let’s talk about it. We have two guys that like to headhunt, and can defend the takedown. Meaning that this fight is not likely to see the mat. Both guys are coming off a clean KO win in their last fight. I feel like it is foolish to bet against a guy from Uzbekistan, so let’s roll with that. Not a lot of analysis here, because this fight shouldn’t be on the main card. Do better, Dana White. Muradov via first-round TKO
Jessica Eye X Joanne Calderwood (Women’s Flyweight Bout)
Jessica Eye and Joanne Calderwood is a sneaky candidate for fight of the night. You are looking at two fighters coming off losses, hungry for one more crack at the gold. Because these ladies are on the back end of their careers, they will need to put on a show. Calderwood is the more aggressive of the two women, landing at a higher rate for strikes and takedowns per 15 minutes. Eye has had her shot at the champ Valentina Shevchenko, and now it’s Calderwood’s turn to rise towards the top. Calderwood via unanimous decision
Dan Hooker X Michael Chandler (Lightweight Bout)
I know that I said the previous fight could win FOTY….but this is my official pick. And yes, I know who fights in the main event. Dan Hooker and Michael Chandler are two fellas who love to stand and bang it out. I am very big on Dan Hooker, even after watching him get dismantled by Dustin Poirier. And I will let everyone know, I am not big on Michael Chandler. So here’s the thing: most guys who come over from Bellator do not fare well (see Ben Askren, Hector Lombard or Eddie Alvarez just to name a few.) Yes, I know Alvarez won a title, but got sparked by Conor and hasn’t looked the same since. Anyway, Hooker is a young stallion who looked primed for a run at the top. I don’t see this being a warm welcome for Mr. Chandler. Hooker via third-round TKO
Dustin Poirier X Conor McGregor (Lightweight)
And now, the main event. A rematch 7 years in the making. The first time around saw a clash of rising stars that had McGregor finishing The Diamond in under two minutes. Both men have changed and matured in leaps and bounds. Dustin Poirier has turned his career completely around, becoming a Lightweight champion, defending it once against Max Holloway in an absolute barn burner. It’s hard to argue that Poirier is not at his apex in his career, never looking better. But standing across from him is a focused Conor McGregor. And we all know what a focused McGregor looks like (see his domination against Eddie Alvarez at MSG). The Notorious seems to be laser-focused coming into this fight. I can’t bet against the Irishman, but if it goes late keep an eye out for an upset. McGregor via second-round TKO
These are my picks for UFC 257! How do you think my UFC 257 Preview and Predictions will do?