The UFC’s first pay-per-view of 2021 couldn’t be any bigger. That’s because Conor McGregor – an athlete on par with names like Lebron James and Lionel Messi – is headlining the proceedings. And unlike his last tuneup fight with Donald Cerrone, he’s in a matchup that matters, against an elite opponent in Dustin Poirier.
Yes, these two have fought already, with McGregor needing just a few minutes to bounce Dustin’s head off the canvas. But that was back in 2014, in a different weight class, when both men were vastly different fighters. They meet now at the peak of their careers, hardened veterans and fully formed mixed martial artists.
The cherry on top? This is a helluva fight. Dustin is a Fight of the Year machine – a dude with top shelf talent that wins by forcing his opponent into war. When’s the last time he’s made it look easy? It’s been a while, because 1) he only faces championship caliber guys and 2) he fights to his level of competition. As for McGregor, he would have never become such a huge name if he wasn’t such a special striker. We all know he’s got the power to turn out the lights with a single punch, but it’s everything else – timing, accuracy, distance control, hand speed – that just makes him different.
It’s likely that the winner of McGregor-Poirier will go on to fight for the title, and the winner of the co-main event could very well be their first title defense. Bellator champion Michael Chandler finally makes his UFC debut, and the world finally gets to see how the big fish fares in the shark-infested ocean. He draws a brutal matchup in Dan Hooker, who like Poirier, wins by forcing dudes into the woodchipper. The fact that Chandler was recently the title alternate for the Nurmagomedov-Poirier matchup speaks to just how highly his new organization thinks of him.
Any card with McGregor on it is going to draw an avalanche of action in the UFC online sportsbook. It’s our job to point you in the right direction, so let’s jump into the UFC 257 odds at BookMaker.eu and break down your best betting picks for the main and co-main events.
Main Event, Lightweight
Conor McGregor -330 vs. Dustin Poirier +248
Over/under 2.5 rounds: o +158 / u -200
Fight goes/doesn’t go to decision: +300 / -450
McGregor inside the distance -200
McGregor by decision +600
Poirier inside the distance +450
Poirier wins by decision +500
The Safe Picks:
Fight doesn’t go to decision -450
McGregor to win at -330
The easiest call is that the fight doesn’t go to decision. The numbers don’t lie: Conor has only gone to decision once in his past 10 fights, and that came against the iron-chinned Nate Diaz. In Poirier’s last 10, only three have gone to the scorecards – and each of those decisions resulted in a lot of blood and bruises.
Conor’s power can end this fight at any time, but he also tends to struggle with fatigue that can lead to fight-ending mistakes. Dustin’s pressure could accelerate that result, whether he runs into a nuclear left or dials it up en route to a finish. Dustin might not be the one-hitter quitter that Conor is, but nobody denies that he can do a lot of damage in a short amount of time.
Playing McGregor to win straight up is the conservative pick – we just hate the fact that his line moved from -180 to -330. Taking him inside the distance is certainly justifiable, but write off Dustin’s toughness and experience at your own risk. Knowing that a title shot is in line for the winner, these fighters certainly could fight more tactically, which would eat up a lot of clock.
Over 2.5 rounds at +158
We’re not expecting a quick finish by McGregor this time around. He may have caught a young Dustin Poirier back in 2014, but he also got inside the head of the then-25 year old. As a rising superstar, McGregor was a master of getting under the skin of fighters who felt that he hadn’t earned his status. Dustin bought into it hook, line and sinker. It’s debatable how much that contributed to his getting caught, but fighting emotional certainly didn’t help.
McGregor’s not even trying the same approach this time around – it simply wouldn’t work. Poirier is 31, runs an amazing charity organization and has a wife and daughter. He’s also now one of the most accomplished fighters at 155 pounds, with his last five wins coming against Dan Hooker, Max Holloway, Eddie Alvarez and Justin Gaethje. Catching him early is gonna be a lot harder.
Better Than a Lottery Ticket:
Poirier wins by decision at +400
Poirier inside the distance at +450
This is out of sheer respect for Poirier, whose resume at lightweight easily outshines McGregor. We’re torn between taking him by decision or inside the distance, as the likelihood of either is about equal.
What we do know is that the chances of Poirier winning is far better than these betting lines would imply. We can easily talk ourselves into Poirier finishing an exhausted McGregor late in the fight, and it’s just as easy to see him eking out a decision after a fierce comeback. If he can survive four nine rounds of Hooker and Gaethje and come out on top, he can do the same against McGregor.
Maybe throw a little bit on both – winning either one would easily cover the cost of the bet.