The penultimate week of the opening month of 2021 was largely dominated by the UFC’s Fight Island 8 event on Wednesday afternoon, as well as a blockbuster pay-per-view return at UFC 257 this weekend — with a lightweight headliner between one-time foes, Dustin Poirier and Conor McGregor taking honours.
Ahead of Saturday night’s main event, Poirier claimed he’d welcome a “blood and guts” outing against prior opponent, McGregor, whom himself had previously explained how he was confident the shots he needed to land against Poirier would come inside sixty-seconds, resulting in a second career knockout win.
Off the back of his one-sided defeat to former featherweight kingpin, Max ‘Blessed’ Holloway at UFC on ABC 1, the always classy, Calvin Kattar released a statement praising the former champion’s record-setting performance. The Methuen native explained how he would never quit, and thus, how it’s impossible to keep somebody down if they never throw in the proverbial towel.
Current undisputed lightweight champion, Khabib ‘The Eagle’ Nurmagomedov also reacted to Holloway’s spectacular performance against Kattar, detailing how his once scheduled UFC 223 opponent could go on to become the greatest mixed martial artist of all time if he keeps turning in displays like last week.
UFC 257 co-headliner, Dan ‘The Hangman’ Hooker has some kind words for event curtain closer, McGregor during fight week, explaining how if Khabib remains retired, in his mind, McGregor is “skill-for-skill” the best lightweight the promotion has on it’s hands right now.
Arriving at the ‘W’ hotel in Abu Dhabi, UAE for fight week, McGregor alongside his family and team came mere seconds away from a potential crossing of the paths with Khabib, who had interrupted an interview between The Schmo and Matt Serra to discuss a possible clash with former two-weight world champion, Georges St-Pierre.
In a report from The New York Times, McGregor was the subject of a multi-million euro lawsuit in his native Dublin, as a woman and her mother filed suits against the Dubliner in relation to events which are alleged to have taken place in December 2018.
On Thursday, Poirier, McGregor, Hooker, and promotional newcomer, ‘Iron’ Mike Chandler featured at a very cordial press conference to promote UFC 257. Sharing some respectful moments, the two pairs faced-off for the first time during fight week.
Speaking on the future of the lightweight championship given the October retirement of Khabib, arch-rival, McGregor claimed he believed the former would be stripped of his champion status following the culmination of this weekend’s UFC 257 event.
Added to a February 27th. UFC Fight Night event, a lightweight matchup of recent Factory X mover, Alexander ‘The Great’ Hernandez, and American Top Team grappling standout, Thiago Moises. Both men last featured at a UFC Fight Night event on Halloween, with Hernandez besting Chris Greutzemacher, while Moises made it two wins in two with a decision victory over the veteran Bobby Green.
Taking main event honours at UFC Fight Island 8, Michael ‘The Maverick’ Chiesa utilised his phenomenal grappling and top control to dominate longtime welterweight contender, ‘The Haitian Sensation’ Neil Magny on his way to a comfortable decision win. Afterwards, Chiesa called for a clash with former interim champion, Colby ‘Chaos’ Covington.
Scheduled to tackle Matt ‘The Steam Rolla’ Frevola at UFC 257, undefeated lightweight knockout-artist, Ottman Azaitar was removed from the tie on Friday due to a health and safety protocol violation. The Morrocan is alleged to have cut off his wristband, given it to someone outside of the bubble, who then scaled across four balconies, before placing a bag in Azaitar’s room at the fighter hotel. Azaitar was subsequently cut from the UFC with his contract terminated.
Before Saturday’s main event, McGregor spoke with ESPN MMA reporter, Stephen A. Smith — detailing how he had four fights left on his Octagon deal, and if handed dates by the UFC, how he would fight out the four outings inside the opening quarter of 2021.
In a memorable UFC 257 card, Marina Rodriguez knocked back uber-prospect, compatriot Amanda Ribas with a second-round knockout in quite bizarre fashion. Dropping the Minas Gerais native, Rodriguez seemed as if she was beckoned away by referee, Herb Dean, he disputed the stoppage an urged the fight to continue. Engaging again, Rodriguez stunned Ribas with a combination before Dean eventually halted the action.
Announcing himself to the UFC masses in spectacular fashion, former three-time Bellator lightweight champion, Chandler scored a stunning opening round knockout win over Hooker — dropping the Kiwi with a straight right hand before finishing with a barrage of ground strikes.
Calling out both Khabib and event headliners, Poirier and McGregor afterwards, Sanford MMA mainstay, Chandler immediately inserts himself into title contention.
Paid In Full. Redemption for Poirier on the biggest stage. Employing a masterful gameplan, the American Top Team staple stops former lightweight and featherweight champion, McGregor in the second round with a barrage at the fence, becoming the first in mixed martial arts history to stop the Straight Blast Gym mainstay with strikes.
Utilising a series of damaging calf kicks, Poirier severely compromised McGregor’s southpaw lead before swarming with a lengthy combination at the fence, dropping the Dubliner before finishing with ground strikes.
During his post-fight press conference, Poirier knocked back the idea of a vacant title matchup with the aforenoted, Chandler — but welcomed potential clashes with Charles Oliveira, once scheduled foe, Nate Diaz, and even a trilogy with McGregor.
Tune in next Sunday afternoon as we look back on what promises to be a busy week in the world of mixed martial arts.
Senior writer for FightBook MMA. An aspiring mixed martial arts reporter based in Ireland. Producer of news articles, interviews, opinion features, and exclusive features such as, ‘The Fallout’, ‘The Breakdown, and, ‘This Week In MMA’.
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