- Date & Location: Saturday Jan. 23 @ TBA
- Odds: Dustin Poirier (+190) vs. Conor McGregor (-240) via Bovada
- Prediction: McGregor KO/TKO
The first UFC pay-per-view card of 2021 takes place on January 23. The bout pits former UFC interim lightweight champion, Dustin Poirier, against ex-two division UFC titleholder Conor McGregor.
Poirier and McGregor first met in a featherweight bout in 2014. McGregor won that contest by TKO at the 1:46 mark of Round 1. A lot has changed since that fight. One thing that changed is that both fighters moved up in weight. This bout takes place at the lightweight limit of 155 pounds.
Poirier moved up to lightweight after his loss to McGregor. He is 10-2-0-1 at 155 pounds and coming off a unanimous decision win over Dan Hooker. That win came after Khabib Nurmagomedov bested him in a lightweight title unification contest.
Two fights after beating Poirier, McGregor defeated Chad Mendes to win the interim featherweight belt. He unified the 145-pound titles in December 2015 with a 13-second knockout win over Jose Aldo. McGregor then split a pair of welterweight scraps with Nate Diaz. In November 2016, McGregor became a two-division champion with a second-round TKO win over Eddie Alvarez.
The UFC later stripped McGregor of both titles for inactivity.
Nurmagomedov submitted McGregor in the fourth round of their October 2018 bout. McGregor bounced back from that loss with a 40-second knockout of Donald Cerrone in January 2020. That bout took place at 170 pounds.
Poirier is the No. 2 ranked fighter in the official UFC lightweight rankings, while McGregor checks in at No. 5.
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POIRIER vs. McGREGOR ODDS
|Fighter||Odds (via BetOnline)|
POIRIER vs. McGREGOR PREDICTION & PICK
McGregor’s psychological games paid dividends in the first meeting between these two. Expect McGregor to do whatever he can to get under Poirier’s skin in this rematch and make him fight with emotion.
Both fighters have a lot riding on this matchup. For Poirier, a win here could him back in the conversation for a lightweight title bout. A McGregor victory will also give the UFC a reason to slot him into a very lucrative UFC title fight.
Both fighters have improved a great deal since their first meeting, but the time between contests has benefited Poirier more than it has McGregor. Poirier is a more confident and more well-rounded fighter since 2014. Where he may have had doubts about his talent level before, he no longer has that gnawing at the back of his mind. Poirier knows he can compete against almost anyone in the UFC’s lightweight division.
I believe this fight has the potential to be very competitive, especially if Poirier can take McGregor to the third round and beyond. On the other side of the equation, we haven’t seen how McGregor has improved. It’s safe to assume he has and that he’s been working on his MMA game since the Cerrone fight. Even without improvements, McGregor has the power that makes it easy for him to capitalize on a single mistake.
Pick: McGregor at -222 via Bookmaker.
BETTING VALUE WITH McGREGOR
McGregor is going to bring out a lot of action for this fight and I think this could be the fight that generates the most action in favor of the Irish fighter. His fans haven’t seen him fight in a year and he has already defeated Poirier. Even casual MMA and betting fans could come out to place bets on this contest. With that, I expect McGregor will become an even bigger favorite by fight night. The fight actually opened with McGregor at -175 and Poirier at +150, so the former two-division champion has already lost some value ahead of the January matchup.
My concern with McGregor is his cardio. If that fails or if he tries to close Poirier out too quickly, he could be in for a long night. On the other hand, we know how talented McGregor is and how he finished Poirier in their first matchup.
I think Poirier is going to be the emotional favorite for many, but I believe that McGregor gets the win and I think it will once again be via his striking.
Prediction: McGregor by KO/TKO -230 at BetUs.
WHO HAS THE EDGE?
Poirier has the edge in activity, but I’m not sure that will pay too many dividends against McGregor. He was off for more than a year before he put Cerrone away in under a minute. That’s not to compare Poirier and Cerrone — I think Poirier is a much tougher fight for McGregor — but it points out that McGregor can get his mind focused and training dialed in.
Confidence might be a wash heading into this battle, but McGregor has the knockout win over Poirier and that could tug at Poirier’s mind if things get sideways at any point in this fight. If Poirier gets the fight to the mat it could change the tone of the bout as he is much more skilled than McGregor on the ground.
This is an agonizing fight to pick because of Poirier’s improvements, but it’s just so hard to pick against McGregor, especially since he has the knockout win over Poirier.
I think in the big picture, McGregor has enough advantages that he is the safer pick in this scrap.
FIGHT STATS: POIRIER vs. McGREGOR
|Dustin Poirier||Category||Conor McGregor|
|5.57||Significant Strikes Landed Per Minute||5.43|
|4.18||Significant Strikes Absorbed Per Minute||4.40|
|1.46||Takedown Average Per 15 Minutes||0.75|
|1.3||Submission Average Per 15 Minutes||0.0|
WHAT’S AT STAKE
Sticking to MMA, the winner of this fight will be under immediate consideration for a UFC lightweight title fight. It can’t get any more high stakes than that, especially with both fighters falling short in their most recent title fights.
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