Nearly seven years after its inception, the ultra-violent saga of Dustin Poirier and Conor McGregor comes to an end at UFC 264 this Saturday (July 10, 2021) when the power-punching duo headline UFC 264 from inside T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. Fifteen pounds north, recent title challenger Gilbert Burns looks to restart his climb through the Welterweight ranks against long-time standout Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson, while Tai Tuivasa locks horns with Greg Hardy in a clash of heavy-handed Heavyweight sluggers.
If splurging on fireworks last week burned a hole in your wallet, here’s how to fill it back up for the ESPN+ pay-per-view (PPV) offering. Let’s get to it ...
What Went Wrong at UFC Vegas 30?
A solid event, though not perfect. Ike Vullianueva’s failure to capitalize on some early damage led to Marcin Prachnio compromising his leg and kicking his liver into the third row, but that was somehow less frustrating than Andre Fili battering Daniel Pineda to a borderline 10-7 round and then throwing it away with an eye poke. Still, good work from Ciryl Gane, Tim Means, Julia Avila, Charles Rosa and Renato Moicano carried us to a profit.
UFC 264 Odds For The Under Card:
Max Griffin (-185) vs. Carlos Condit (+160)
Michel Pereira (-155) vs. Niko Price (+135)
Ilia Topuria (-230) vs. Ryan Hall (+190)
Dricus Du Plessis (-110) vs. Trevin Giles (-110)
Jennifer Maia (-175) vs. Jessica Eye (+155)
Brad Tavares (-160) vs. Omari Akhmedov (+140)
Zhalgas Zhumagulov (-310) vs. Jerome Rivera (+255)
Alen Amedovski (-135) vs. Hu Yaozong (+115)
Thoughts: Michel Pereira looks like the best bargain of the bunch, though there’s also value to be found in Brad Tavares and Max Griffin.
I — like pretty much everyone else with a taste for grievous displays of self-destructive violence — love watching Niko Price work. My fondness doesn’t let me overlook his flaws; however, he’s still a fairly basic bruiser and isn’t durable enough to fight the way he does against higher-tier opposition. Pereira’s got the footwork and speed to tear up Price at range, plus the power to put “The Hybrid” to sleep with one good shot. Now that he’s properly dialed-in his style, Pereira’s a problem for most UFC Welterweight fighters ... Price included.
Tavares is (and always has been) one of the most reliable members of the Middleweight division, using top-notch takedown defense and basic-but-effective kickboxing to pick apart everyone without a number next to their name. Those skills look like just the ticket to deal with Akhmedov, who relies on racking up top control and grinding out opponents. “Wolverine” has definitely improved, but Tavares’ advantages in cardio and striking technique figure to win it for him.
Carlos Condit is closing in on his professional year No. 20 and the man still can’t wrestle. Griffin, on the other hand, has developed a potent takedown game to go along with his heavy hands. Even if the aging “Natural Born Killer” still has what it takes to win a striking battle, I am in no way convinced he can keep it standing if Griffin decides to change gears, and that alone is enough for me to pick “Pain.”
Both Ilia Topuria and Zhalgas Zhumagulov can be used to beef up parlays. Topuria has the wrestling to shut down all of Ryan Hall’s grappling attempts and the power to destroy him on the feet. However, don’t go nuts because Hall’s always dangerous, but he’s worth a look. On Zhumagulov’s side, he’s as good as if not better than the three men who have beaten Jerome Rivera in the Octagon.
UFC 264 Odds For The Main Card:
Dustin Poirier (-130) vs. Conor McGregor (+110)
Stephen Thompson (-155) vs. Gilbert Burns (+135)
Tai Tuivasa (-130) vs. Greg Hardy (+110)
Irene Aldana (-120) vs. Yana Kunitskaya (EVEN)
Sean O’Malley (-800) vs. Kris Moutinho (+550)
Thoughts: “Wonderboy” and “Bam Bam,” come on down.
Stephen Thompson is definitely the riskier of these two picks, but I still believe in him. Between his speed, reach advantage, takedown defense and skills on the counter, he’s got the goods to break Gilbert Burns the way Kamaru Usman did.
In short, a bit on the Canadian makes sense.
While beating the likes Stefan Struve and Harry Hunsucker isn’t particularly eye-catching, Tai Tuivasa does look like he’s improved since his ugly three-fight skid. Not sure the same can be said about Hardy, who’s only really looked good against Maurice Greene in his last five fights. Tuivasa’s durable enough to take Hardy’s best shots and is a lot less likely to collapse in the face of adversity, which gets him my vote.
Finally, I’m on Team Poirier. Even if you blame his previous victory on McGregor’s boxing adventures, “The Diamond” is a hell of a lot more proven in five-round wars. Between his power, wrestling, grit and durability, it’s hard to see this being anything other than a repeat.
UFC 264 Best Bets:
- Parlay — Michel Pereira and Zhalgas Zhumagulov: Bet $150 to make $171
- Parlay — Ilia Topuria and Brad Tavares: Bet $120 to make $162
- Parlay — Max Griffin and Stephen Thompson: Bet $80 to make $115.20
- Parlay — Tai Tuivasa and Dustin Poirier: Bet $100 to make $203
It’s hard to see UFC 264 not producing some timeless highlights, so be sure you’re around to catch them as they happen. See you Saturday, Maniacs.
Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 264 fight card right here, starting with the early ESPN+ “Prelims” matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. ET, then the remaining undercard balance on ESPN/ESPN+ at 8 p.m. ET, before the PPV main card start time at 10 p.m. ET on ESPN+ PPV.
To check out the latest and greatest UFC 264: “McGregor vs. Poirier 3” news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive event archive right here.