UFC 264
Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC

UFC 264 Prelims/Main Card Preview and Predictions

UFC 264 is finally here, and with it comes a stacked night of fights. Find out how Vendetta’s UFC team thinks the night will go down.

The Prelims (Garrett Burroughs)

Trevin Giles vs. Dricus Du Plessis (Middleweight

Trevin Giles is an interesting story. He was 2-0 in the UFC before leaving the sport altogether for a year and a half to become a police officer. When he did make his return, he was stopped in back-to-back fights via submission. (This is why we don’t become cops). His wave continues, having won three straight since those losses. He goes against Dricus Du Plessis, who is making his UFC debut after claiming titles in EFC and KSW. Giles is known more for his massive power and Du Plessis for his groundwork and submission game. If this fight is finished in the first round, it’s Giles. But I don’t think it will, and the newcomer gets a big win in his debut. Du Plessis via Submission. 

Ryan Hall vs. Ilia Topuria (Featherweight) 

I love Ryan Hall. I’ll say it. I know he’s been out of action for over two years, but when I heard he was returning I knew I would pick him. This man is a wizard on the ground, and he has the claim of being the only man to submit B.J. Penn. However, Ilia Topuria is a different breed. Plus, he possesses the one thing that Hall’s opponents have lacked in the past: superior wrestling. Topuria just has far more well-rounded skills that make this a bad matchup for the returning Hall. No finish here, but a grind-out win for Topuria. Topuria via unanimous decision. 

Niko Price vs. Michel Pereira (Welterweight) 

Niko Price was once considered “the guy” at welterweight. He was undefeated entering the UFC and looked incredible. His run-in with Vicente Luque quieted the hype. But he went 4-2 with three “Performance of the Night” bonuses before dropping back-to-back fights, one being a rematch with Luque (which was fantastic) and a “No Contest” against Donald Cerrone for a failed drug test. Some of that hype is now on Michel Pereira. His flashy style and unique fighting abilities make him a fan favorite because you never know where he’s going to come from. I think the speed difference is going to be huge here for Pereira, plus he’s much more experienced than Price. If he can keep his composure, I think this will be a showcase for Pereira. Pereira via TKO. 

Carlos Condit vs. Max Griffin (Welterweight) 

Carlos Condit, many believed, was on his way out of the UFC after suffering 5 straight losses from 2016-2018. But, he has put together back-to-back wins over Court McGee and Matt Brown. The former interim champion is showing he might have a little left in the tank. Max Griffin also had a rough go of it, losing 6 of his first 9 fights in the UFC before going on his own two-fight win streak. I’ll be honest, a little bias is going into this pick. Conventional wisdom should pick Griffin, but I love seeing “The Natural Born Killer” in the win column. Fuck it, give me Condit in a classic. Condit via TKO. 

The Main Card

Sean O’Malley vs. Kris Moutinho (Bantamweight)

The UFC 264 main card kicks off with a bantamweight matchup between Sean O’Malley and Kris Moutinho. Sean O’Malley, 13-1, is coming into this fight looking to crack the rankings in the division with a win. One thing that stands out with O’Malley is his power. For being a 135-pound fighter, the dude can flatten people with one shot. Kris Moutinho is making his UFC debut so I really could not tell you much about the guy other than he is a half-decent striker. Expect the two fighter’s similar styles to clash in this fight. I believe whoever lands the first clean shot will win this fight. I have O’Malley by 2nd round KO.

Irene Aldana vs. Yana Kunitskaya (Bantamweight)

The second fight on the main card of UFC 264 features two of the top five female bantamweights in the world. Aldana, the number 4 ranked bantamweight in the UFC, is a complete fighter. With good wrestling and submission skills, great power and accuracy, and cardio to last all three rounds, she is a tough out for anyone not named Amanda Nunes. Kunitskaya, the number 5 ranked bantamweight in the company, enters Saturday’s fight on a two-fight win streak. Much like Aldana, Kunitskaya has a relatively complete set of skills. Wrestling is good enough, her power is off the charts, and she can go the distance if she needs to. I think Aldana’s wrestling superiority will decide this fight. If she can get Kunitskaya to the canvas and use her submission skills to her advantage, she should get the win. Aldana by submission in the 3rd round.

Tai Tuvasa vs. Greg Hardy (Heavyweight)

The heavyweights will be throwing hands at UFC 264 when Tai Tuvasa and Greg Hardy square off in the third fight of the main card. I will be short and to the point on this one. I do not think Greg Hardy has a shot in this fight. Tuvasa is too powerful and too experienced to lose to Greg Hardy. Tuvasa has 11 knockout victories in his career and has seen way more in the fight game than Hardy has. Hardy is not a slouch by any means, but he has not been professionally fighting for very long and tends to open himself up to big shots. If he is not disciplined the whole fight, Tuvasa will knock him out. I have this fight ending in the second round via a Tuvasa KO.

Gilbert Burns vs. Stephen Thompson (Welterweight)

The co-main event for UFC 264 would be the main event on 99 out of 100 cards, but unfortunately, it is on the same card as a Conor McGregor fight. Gilbert Burns, the former challenger for the welterweight belt, takes on Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson in what is no doubt a title eliminator. Whoever wins this fight will get the next title shot in the 170-pound division. Gilbert Burns, who by all accounts, is one of the most complete fighters in the game, is coming off a loss to Kumaru Usman at UFC 258. Burns’s combination of power, wrestling, and cardio make him one of the hardest fighters to beat in my opinion. He really can beat his opponent however he wants. Knockout? No problem, he has 6 of those. Submission? You got it, 8 of those in his career. Want to go the distance? Fine, he has done it 5 times already.

Stephen Thompson, the number 4 ranked contender in the welterweight division is looking to get his shot at Usman’s belt with a signature win on Saturday night. Thompson is a striker, plain and simple. I am not saying he has no wrestling or submission skills, but his bread is buttered with striking. What he lacks in other areas of the game is made up for in his creativity. He has so many strikes in his arsenal. From head kicks to combinations, the dude can strike with the best of them. I know Burns is the more complete fighter, but I like Thompson by split decision in this one.

Conor McGregor vs. Dustin Poirier (Lightweight)

In the biggest trilogy fight thus far in the history of the UFC, Conor McGregor and Dustin Poirier will go to war for a chance at being the next challenger for the 155-pound belt.

Conor McGregor needs no introduction, but in case you live under a rock, let me break it down for you real quick. McGregor, the former Featherweight and Lightweight champion, is the most impactful UFC fighter of all time, and at times, looks like one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the world. In their last fight at UFC 257, McGregor was dominated. A combination of leg kicks and a beautifully placed short right gave Poirier the win. A lot of people seem to think Conor McGregor is done. My rebuttal to that take would be power. Conor McGregor has generational speed and accuracy, which translate into power. Time and time again we have seen him put his opponents to sleep with one left hand. That left hand is the key if Conor McGregor wants to win on Saturday night. In order to win, McGregor needs to mix up his strikes, open up Poirier for the left, and execute the kill shot.

Dustin Poirier, who, to me, has looked like the best lightweight alive for the better part of 2 years, is looking to stamp his name in the history books with a win at UFC 264. It is no secret that Poirier has a deeper bag than McGregor. His wrestling is far superior, his power is up there with McGregor’s, and his cardio is miles ahead of Conor McGregor’s. When you look at their last fight, Poirier fought a perfect fight. He did not take any huge shots, used leg kicks to open McGregor up, and landed perfectly placed shots to end the fight. To me, the key to Poirier’s victory on Saturday night will be his defense. If he can avoid taking a clean left hand, he has no chance of losing.

As a die-hard Conor McGregor fan, it pains me to say this, but Dustin Poirier will win this fight. I believe Poirier will avoid the big shots and use his cardio to wear McGregor down. Poirier by 3rd round KO.  

Garrett’s Main Event Predictions

I have probably gone back and forth on this fight since it got announced. First, it was all Poirier. He has a case for being one of the best lightweights of all time. His resume includes wins over Anthony Pettis, Justin Gaethje, Eddie Alvarez, Max Holloway, and a win over Conor McGregor in their rematch. Poirier has gotten so much better during his tenure in the UFC that you have to think he’s destined to hold that UFC World Championship one day, not just interim. But, where I am currently on is the side of “Mystic Mac”. All the press going on before this fight just looks like a different Conor. He was training to box Manny Pacquiao in Dallas before this fight, so he wasn’t fully focused. A fully locked-in McGregor is a dangerous man. And the press conference yesterday locked in my pick. I do believe “The Notorious” Conor McGregor is back. Either way, I know we are in for a classic fight. McGregor via 4th round TKO. 

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