Last night (Sat., July 10, 2021), Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) ventured from UFC Apex to T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada, for UFC 264. Quite likely the most high-profile event of the year, all the attention was focused on the main event, which pitted Conor McGregor vs. Dustin Poirier for the third time. However, there were lots of other important and interesting match ups, so hopefully this article can shine a bit of light on other athletes, too.
Let’s take a closer look at the best performances and techniques:
Well ... Now What?
So, Poirier took a few solid low kicks and a left hand or two, then proceeded to beat McGregor’s ass.
Do not let McGregor or his legion of fans sway the narrative. Poirier was landing heavy punches by the midway point of the round — that’s how the initial takedown entry came about. Once on top, Poirier ate an elbow or two, but delivered more affecting blows from top position moments later.
It was a dominant round. The injured ankle at the end (see it) really isn’t Poirier’s problem.
What’s next? At some point, Poirier vs. McGregor 4 is an option. However, McGregor time to heal, and Poirier has a Lightweight title shot to capitalize upon.
I don’t have any real insight to offer (a couple of big lads threw big punches, and one of ‘em fell), but man, it was great to see Tai Tuivasa flatten Greg Hardy. Why was Hardy featured on a McGregor card?
Sean O’Malley styled on Kris Moutinho.
Don’t lose sight of O’Malley’s performance. His hands were remarkably quick, and his angles were excellent. O’Malley landed a record-setting number of strikes at an unbelievable rate of accuracy. Even deep into the third round, O’Malley was landing with power.
Still, it’s no accident that Moutinho is the bigger story. He ate an unbelievable amount of punishment and just kept coming. He truly fought like a terminator, and while it didn’t result in the victory, Moutinho deserves all the respect in the world.
The End Of The Ryan Hall Experiment
Look, leg lock guys are a lot of fun. They’re frightening. It’s genuinely true that they’re unappealing match ups, because a loss can result a painful and expensive year of rehab. No one wants that; even a knockout is far more palatable.
For those reasons, it can be easy to get caught up in the hype. Personally, I remember thinking Rousimar Palhares was on the fast track to the Middleweight belt, back before Alan Belcher brutalized him. Yet, that bout served as my lesson: at some point, going for leg locks backfires.
Such was the case for Ryan Hall. He just kept ducking down and trying to roll towards an ankle, over and over. Ilia Topuria slowly gathered his timing, and unlike with leg locks, a punch or knee doesn’t have to be perfectly executed in order to be effective.
Topuria slowly landed more often, and then the finish emerged. Will Hall fight again? He’s an older grappler with an established BJJ following. It’s not unreasonable to expect retirement. If he does keep fighting, the myth has been busted a bit, so expect more aggressive opponents.
Janky And Dangerous
Dricus Du Plessis does weird stuff inside the cage, but with a 16-2 professional record boasting a bevy of stoppage wins, who are we to argue?
Opposite a sharp striker with underrated wrestling in Trevin Giles, many felt his foe’s technical and speed advantages would overcome Du Plessis’ finishing potential. Indeed, the bout started out the way, as Giles was the more effective striker in the opening few minutes.
Fortunately for the viewing audience, funk won the day. Du Plessis found his way to top position ... and immediately attempted a hamstring ripping Suloev stretch? In the ensuing scramble, he landed a kimura sweep and nearly wrapped up a guillotine choke — that’s a lot of low percentage success!
In round two, Du Plessis backed into the cage several times, eating some shots. That’s not typically great strategy, but apparently, it was thought out: Du Plessis noticed his foe really opening up when he covered and backed away. Soon after determining the pattern, the South African combatant capitalized, landing a brutal counter right hand to end the bout.
It’s always fun when a quality prospect uses different tools and strategies than the usual meta.
- Irene Aldana defeats Yana Kunitskaya via first-round knockout: Kunitskaya brought a lot of energy to cage, starting strong with a mix of clinch knees and long distance kicks. However, her frequent straightforward entries came back to bite her, as Aldana answered with a perfect check hook. From top position, Aldana then savaged her opponent with elbows! The only mar on an otherwise great performance was that Aldana badly missed weight on Friday,.
- Zhalgas Zhumagulov defeats Jerome Rivera via first-round guillotine (HIGHLIGHTS): Zhumagulov got off to a rough start. The Flyweight’s opponent appeared a full weight class larger, and he was really battering the Kazakh athlete at range. Just as Rivera really appeared to be pulling away, however, a big left hand turned the tide. Suddenly, Rivera was shooting for a takedown, and Zhumagulov countered with a deep guillotine choke. Locking up the rear naked choke grip, Zhumagulov twisted the neck and forced the tap to secure his first UFC win.
For full UFC 264 play-by-play updates and results click here. And to check out the latest and greatest “McGregor vs. Poirier 3”-related news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive event archive right here.