By Devin Hall
The time has finally come for the biggest UFC event of the year. Saturday, July 10th, will be the trilogy fight between the number 1 lightweight contender Dustin “The Diamond” Poirier and the larger-than-life figure, “The Notorious” Conor McGregor. Any fight with McGregor headlining it will have the attention of millions around the world. The main event will bring in everyone, but Dana White has made this card stacked with phenomenal fights through the main card and the preliminary card.
The prelims have two fights that I will be playing close attention to tomorrow. First, the bout between Ryan “The Wizard” Hall (8-1) and the undefeated German prospect Ilia Topuria (10-0). This featherweight fight will consist of some beautiful jiu-jitsu as Topuria has 7 submissions out of his 10 wins and Hall looks like a typical guy you would find on the street, but his imanari roll makes him one of the most feared fighters at 145. Hall has a history of rolling into a heel hook that send fighters into a frenzy of pain. Topuria will come in as the favorite but watch for the sneakiness of ‘The Wizard’ as he may pull off an amazing move to steal a win.
One last prelim fight to watch for is the bout between Niko “The Hybrid” Price (14-4) and Michel “Demolidor” Pereira (25-11). This fight has the potential to bring so many different things as both fighters are notorious for doing some crazy things in the octagon. Price has had one of the handful of up-kick finishes, a comeback knockout, and a crazy ground-and-pound knockout. Pereira is just as wild in the octagon. Pereira loves to run after his opponents and jump off the cage to try and make the highlight reel. These two fighters go all out in the octagon, so there is no telling what this fight will bring. The best bet for this fight is a win for Price, but Pereira is no joke to look over.
Fans will be in for a treat with the first fight on the main card for 264. We get another episode of the Suga Show as Sean “Suga” O’Malley (13-1) will be facing with the newcomer Kris Moutinho (9-4). O’Malley was originally supposed to fight with Louis Smolka, but he had an undisclosed injury, leading to the UFC signing Moutinho to make sure O’Malley stays on this stacked card. O’Malley is known for his wild striking, as his kicks and punches are ridiculously fast. His highlight reel is filled with amazing walk-off knockouts. Moutinho is not very known in the UFC world, but he is somewhat similar to O’Malley. They both have wild hair styles and tattoos. They also both are known for their all-out fighting styles, so this fight will be filled with some crazy moments. My guess is that O’Malley takes the win easily, due to Moutinho coming in late as a replacement.
Dana White seems to never disappoint with the pay-per-view cards co-main events. The co-main for 264 is a welterweight bout with the second ranked Gilbert “Durinho” Burns (19-4) and the ageless wonder Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson (16-4-1). Both of these fighters are at the top when it comes to talent in the 170-pound division. Burns is coming off a loss in his championship bout with Kamaru Usman. Burns has the all-around talent to get back to the top, but he will have his hands full with the 38-year-old Thompson. Thompson has been in the UFC for several years and has had his shot at the title earlier in his career. Thompson has a karate background which leaves people in awe when he fights as his kicks are truly incredible. Burns has the jiu-jitsu advantage, while Thompson has the striking advantage. The fight can go either way, but I believe that Burns will come out on top due to him being younger and possibly hungrier for a redemption shot at Usman.
All of these great fights will lead to the main show that everyone will be waiting for tomorrow night. Dustin Poirier (27-6) will face off against the face of the UFC Conor McGregor (22-5). This will be the third time that these two will face off against each other. The first fight in 2014 went to McGregor as he knocked out Poirier, but back in January of this year, Poirier got his revenge as he became the first person to knockout McGregor. With the record between the two 1-1, it was only right to make the trilogy fight. Poirier is one of the best lightweight of all time, as his resume of wins includes McGregor, Max Holloway, Eddie Alvarez, and Justin Gaethje. Poirier has racked up some amazing wins after he moved up to 155-pounds. He also got the closest to beating Khabib Nurmagomedov when he had a guillotine choke that slipped. McGregor is looking to get a bounce back win and to get his hype back to what it was. Ever since McGregor became the first double champion in UFC history, he has not been super active in the octagon. He has had 3 fights since 2018, with two of them being losses. His hype in the locker room with other fighters has drastically decreased due to his layoffs between fights, so this is practically a must win for his legacy and career. If he was to lose, do not be surprised if he was to fight maybe one more time or retire right then and there. He is the highest paid athlete in the world, so he does not need to fight anymore. More losses could tarnish his legacy, but Conor will forever be known as the guy who made the UFC as big as it is today.
UFC 264 will be an amazing card to watch with so many fights being unpredictable. Everyone will be ready to watch McGregor back in the octagon against one of his rivals. From top to bottom, you can not go wrong with any of these fights. If I had to choose the outcome for the main event, I will sadly have to choose Poirier by decision. I think the only way Conor will win is by an early knockout. This is a monumental fight for the UFC, so be sure to tune in tomorrow staring at 6 P.M. eastern standard time, 10 P.M. for the main card.