UFC 257 is 24 hours away, and you can feel it in the air, can't you fight fans? There is just something so special about when Conor McGregor is going to make the walk, the energy is palpable. That he is taking on a dangerous and game Dustin Poirier in a rematch that has huge title implications at 155 amplifies everything. Throw in that the fight is taking place on Fight Island in Abu Dhabi, and in front of fans, and boy, what a way to kick off 2021 for the UFC. The weigh-ins were earlier today, and all fighters made weight with one exception. Two fights were removed from the card.
UFC 257 Should Be A Banger From Start To Finish
Conor last competed last January, defeating Donald Cerrone in seconds. He has since retired and tried to book a second boxing match while waiting for the UFC to keep him busy. Poirier is on a 5-1 streak in his last six fights, beating Justin Gaethje, Eddie Alvarez, Max Holloway, and Dan Hooker to name a few. When they first fought in 2014, McGregor beat Poirier in 1:46 at featherweight. This fight features two extremely different fighters than the first one. McGregor enters UFC 257 looking to stay active this year, he has a new deal, he seems a tad more humble and happy, and for him, it is all about legacy at this point. For Poirier, a chance to send his name into the stratosphere by taking out Conor and making a claim to the net title shot, against Khabib or not. Whoever wins will get a leg up in the division, whatever the future holds. Conor says he will end it in 60 seconds, but welcomes a war. Either will captivate the audience.
In the co-main event, Michael Chandler makes his UFC debut against Dan Hooker is what should be a barnburner to get us ready for the main event. Two fights were pulled from the card today, as Ottman Azaitar and Nasrat Haqparast, were taken off of the UFC 257 card. Haqparast failed to show up at all to the weigh-in, and Azaitar was cut from the UFC after a violation of health and safety protocols. This is a big no-no, and pretty dumb on his part. UFC President Dana White said about the situation: "He and his team cut off their wrist bands, gave them to somebody outside the bubble, I don't know how they even did it," White said. "That guy taped them, showed up here with a bag, went into a room, shimmied across four balconies, went in his room dropped the bag off, changed his clothes, and then left. Now when security tried to stop him, he wouldn't stop, either way and yeah, it's just… he's gone. He's no longer a UFC fighter and he's not fighting tonight."
Here is the full card for UFC 257:
Main card (ESPN+ Pay-Per-View, 10 p.m. ET)
Dustin Poirier (156) vs. Conor McGregor (155)
Dan Hooker (156) vs. Michael Chandler (156)
Jessica Eye (126) vs. Joanne Calderwood (126)
Marina Rodriguez (116) vs. Amanda Ribas (116)
Makhmud Muradov (186) vs. Andrew Sanchez (186)
Preliminary card (ESPN, ESPN+, 8 p.m. ET)
Matt Frevola (155.5) vs. Arman Tsarukyan (157)*
Brad Tavares (185.5) vs. Antonio Carlos Junior (185)
Sara McMann (135) vs. Julianna Pena (136)
Khalil Rountree (206) vs. Marcin Prachnio (205)
Early Prelims (ESPN+, 7 p.m. ET)
Nik Lentz (150) vs. Movsar Evloev (150) – 150-pound catchweight bout
Amir Albazi (126) vs. Zhalgas Zhumagulov (126)