On that night, the Irish superstar dominated and then knocked out Eddie Alvarez to win the lightweight championship, becoming the first UFC fighter to hold two weight-class titles simultaneously.
That was the end of a two-plus-year run in which he defeated Dustin Poirier, Chad Mendes, Jose Aldo, Nate Diaz and Alvarez. He was 21-3 and riding as high as could be.
A little less than two months prior to McGregor’s KO of Alvarez, Poirier unexpectedly was beaten by Michael Johnson, stopped by punches in just 95 seconds far away from the bright lights of the Big Apple. Instead, Poirier went down to an ignominious defeat in Hidalgo, Texas, of all places.
But it’s also fair to say that since that night, other than the now-retired Khabib Nurmagomedov, Poirier has been the most dominant fighter in the UFC.
Other than a third-round submission loss to Nurmagomedov at UFC 242 in Abu Dhabi on Sept. 7, 2019, Poirier has gone 7-0 with a no-contest since that loss to Johnson. But it’s not so much just the impressive streak that makes what Poirier has done so amazing; it’s who he’s beaten during that streak.
Five of the seven fighters he’s beaten in that stretch either were, or held, UFC titles. He has wins over Jim Miller, Anthony Pettis, Justin Gaethje, Alvarez, Max Holloway, Dan Hooker and McGregor in that span. Only Miller and Hooker weren’t UFC champions, but Miller is third on the UFC’s all-time wins list and Hooker was ranked in the top five.
So as McGregor and Poirier meet on Saturday in the culmination of their trilogy at T-Mobile Arena in the main event of UFC 264, one question stands out: Why is Poirier only a -125 favorite over McGregor at BetMGM? McGregor is +105.
McGregor is a public fighter, meaning casual fans who don’t follow the sport closely will bet on him because they want to root for him and want a little bit of action on the fight.
That, though, creates great value for Poirier bettors. Off of current form, Poirier could be as much as a 2-1 favorite. Since beating Alvarez, McGregor is 1-2 in MMA and 0-1 in boxing. He was knocked out by Floyd Mayweather in a heavily hyped 2017 boxing match that sold more than 4.4 million pay-per-views.
In MMA, he was dominated and then submitted by Nurmagomedov, and was knocked out by Poirier at UFC 257 in January.
It’s vastly different than Poirier’s current form.
That is not to say this is going to be easy for Poirier, because it hardly will be. McGregor has the power to end the fight with one punch or kick, and Poirier admitted after UFC 257 that McGregor had him badly hurt in the first round of that bout. Poirier, though, was able to survive by not letting McGregor, a great finisher, know how badly hurt he was.
Poirier’s advantage here is a more diverse game, growing confidence and the résumé to back it up. He’s also extremely well conditioned and figures to be able to fight at a quicker pace for a longer period than McGregor. One of the few flaws in McGregor’s arsenal throughout his career has been his inability to fight as well late in fights as he did early.
I’ll lay one unit on Poirier to win at -125, hoping to win $100. More than likely, the fight goes to decision, and Poirier by decision is +575, so I am tempted to place one unit on that. But the odds on Poirier by finish late are highly attractive, as well.
Given McGregor tends to fade, Poirier to win in Round 4 at +1300 and in Round 5 at +2200 is highly attractive.
I will pass on those despite them being very tempting and stick with just Poirier to win at -125.
Other UFC 264 bets
• I will lay -135 and take Tai Tuivasa to win over Greg Hardy.
• I will take the +135 on Gilbert Burns and pick him to win over Stephen Thompson.
• I will take the +165 and play Jessica Eye to win over Jennifer Maia.
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