The UFC’s most recognizable fighter will return to the Octagon for the first time in over a year. Conor McGregor’s highly-anticipated UFC return will happen this Saturday at Fight Island when he takes on Dustin Poirier in the five-round main event of UFC 257 in Abu Dhabi.

In the co-main event, former Bellator lightweight champion Michael Chandler will fight for the first time under the UFC when he takes on no. 6 ranked lightweight Dan Hooker in a three-round bout. Meanwhile, former women’s flyweight title challenger Jessica Eye takes on Joanne Calderwood in the main card.

“Fighting" Conor McGregor vs Dustin Poirier

Conor McGregor is the former UFC featherweight and lightweight champion. The 32-year old from Dublin, Ireland is the UFC’s biggest star and will be fighting for the first time since knocking out Donald Cerrone in a welterweight bout at UFC 246. McGregor has a record of 22-4 with 19 wins via knockout and one by submission. However, the Notorious is just 3-2 in his last five bouts. McGregor is 5-9 tall with a reach of 74 inches and is a southpaw fighter.

Dustin Poirier is the former interim UFC lightweight title and the no. 2 lightweight contender today. The Diamond owns notable wins over former champions Anthony Pettis, Justin Gaethje, Eddie Alvarez, and Max Holloway. Poirier is coming off a win over Dan Hooker and has an overall record of 26-6 with 12 knockouts and 7 wins via submission. The 32-year old from Lafayette, Louisiana suffered a first-round knockout loss to McGregor in 2014. Poirier is 5-9 tall with a reach of 72 inches while fighting out of the southpaw stance.

What are the Moneyline Odds?






Odds from BetOnline as of 01/22/2021

Both of Poirier’s losses have come against southpaw strikers, including McGregor. His striking has improved vastly over the years and isn’t the same fighter whom McGregor stopped easily in 2014. However, I don’t think I’ve seen Poirier land his shots without eating some in return. He’s a very durable guy but McGregor’s left-hand punch is something else. I would love to see Poirier flip the script here. However, he’s been to too many exciting firefights to see him get tactical here and avoid getting hit. McGregor’s ability to counter will be the key here.

Prediction: Conor McGregor

“Fighting" Dan Hooker vs Michael Chandler

Dan Hooker is the no. 6 ranked lightweight in the UFC. Hangman is a 30-year old former King of the Ring kickboxing middleweight champion. Hooker 7-2 in his last nine bouts but is coming off a loss to Dustin Poirier. The former Australian Fighting Championship lightweight and welterweight champion has a record of 20-9 with 10 knockouts and seven wins via submission. He is an orthodox fighter who stands six feet tall and has a reach of 75 inches.

Michael Chandler is the former three-time Bellator lightweight champion. The former NCAA Division I All-American wrestler joined the UFC last year and was the backup fighter at UFC 254. After failing to land a fight with a Top 5 opponent last year, Chandler will take on the 6th ranked Hooker in his debut. He has a record of 21-5 with 9 knockouts and seven wins via submission. Chandler is 5-8 tall and has a reach of 71 inches while fighting out of the orthodox stance.

What are the Moneyline Odds?






Odds from BetOnline as of 01/22/2021

They say Michael Chandler was a big fish in a small pond at Bellator. But while he was beating class B opposition there, Dan Hooker has been fighting the best lightweights in the world in the UFC. At Bellator, Chandler never faced someone with Hooker’s striking arsenal. Perhaps there was one, in Patricio Friere, and Chandler got stopped by Pitbull. The main issue with Hooker is how he bounces back after the war against Poirier. But he’s had seven months to recover from that and he’s also four years younger than Chandler so there’s still plenty left in the tank. There’s a chance Chandler wins by knockout but Hooker’s four-inch reach advantage and superior striking skills will get him the win.

Prediction: Dan Hooker

“Fighting" Jessica Eye vs Joanne Calderwood

Jessica Eye is the no. 7 ranked flyweight in the UFC. Evil Eye is a former flyweight title challenger and is one of the best strikers in the women’s division. The 34-year old from Rootstown, Ohio has a record of 15-8 with three knockouts and one win via submission. However, she is 4-2 as a flyweight. Eye is 5-6 tall and has a reach of 66 inches.

Joanne Calderwood is the 8th ranked female flyweight in the UFC. The 34-year old from Irvine, Scotland is a former Muay Thai world champion who is just 6-5 inside the UFC Octagon and is coming off a submission loss to Jennifer Maia last August. Calderwood has a record of 14-5 with five knockouts and one win via submission. She is 5-6 tall with a reach of 66 inches.

What are the Moneyline Odds?






Odds from BetOnline as of 01/22/2021

Eye’s cardio has always been a question mark for her but she showed much-improved conditioning in her last fight. While she has been more powerful at 125, she’s struggled to make weight in this division and that could lead her to gassing against Calderwood. The latter is the far more active fighter and her high output style could be the key to victory here. I think this will be a good fight but Calderwood outpoints Eye with more activity.

Prediction: Joanne Calderwood

“Fighting" Matt Frevola vs Ottman Azaitar

Matt Frevola competed for WSOF and Titan FC. The 30-yard old from Huntington, New York joined the UFC via the Contender Series in 2017. Frevola has won his last two bouts and is coming off a win over Luis Pena. He has a record of 8-1 with one knockout and three wins via submission. Frevola is 5-9 tall with a reach of 71 inches.

Ottman Azaitar is the former BRAVE FC lightweight champion who joined the UFC in 2019. Azaitar is 2-0 with two first-round knockouts in the UFC and both of his wins have earned Performance of the Night honors. He has an undefeated record of 13-0 with 10 knockouts and two wins via submission.

What are the Moneyline Odds?






Odds from BetOnline as of 01/22/2021

Frevola was a slight betting underdog in his previous two bouts against strikers in Turner and Ross. He used his wrestling to grind out victories in both bouts. However, neither Turner nor Ross possess the firepower of Azaitar. We’ve seen Frevola eat punches and take damage from his other fights and being hittable isn’t going to work in his favor here. Azaitar has excellent striking technique, hand speed, and explosiveness. If Frevola can’t take this fight to the mat, it’s over for him.

Prediction: Ottman Azaitar

“Fighting" Marina Rodriguez vs Amanda Ribas

Marina Rodriguez is the no. 6 strawweight in the UFC. She joined the UFC via the Contender Series and is 2-1-2 inside the UFC Octagon. Rodriguez is coming off a split decision loss to Carla Esparza in July 2020. The 33-year old from Rio Grande do Sul in Brazil has a record of 12-1 with five knockouts and one win via submission. She is 5-7 tall with a reach of 67 inches.

Amanda Ribas is the no. 10 UFC women’s strawweight. The 27-year old from Minas Gerais, Brazil has won her last five bouts and is 4-0 inside the Octagon. Ribas is 10-1 with three knockouts and four wins via submission and is coming off a submission win over Paige Van Zant. She is 5-5 tall with a reach of 66 inches.

What are the Moneyline Odds?






Odds from BetOnline as of 01/22/2021

Ribas has looked impressive in the UFC but what we’re getting here is the higher-ranked fighter as a big underdog despite facing much better opposition. Rodriguez is 2-1-2 in her last five bouts but she’s coming off close fights against Cynthia Calvillo and Carla Esparza. Ribas has won her first four UFC bouts but against popular yet mediocre opposition. Ribas’ best win came against McKenzie Dern where she put up a striking clinic. However, Dern was four months removed from giving birth and wasn’t 100%. Rodriguez has the edge in striking and power and this is a closer fight than what the odds suggest.

Prediction: Marina Rodriguez

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