“I promise you a masterpiece,” tweeted “The Notorious” Conor McGregor just three short weeks before his rematch with Dustin “The Diamond” Poirier at UFC 257, taking place Jan. 23.
McGregor is never short on bravado — and he has the skills to back up every verbal jab. So when he promises a masterpiece, fans know to expect an action-packed fight with furious fists and heavy hands.
Poirier, for his part, is unintimidated. He tweeted, “Have no fear, underdog is here!” The odds may be against him, but UFC watchers know he’s got the ability to go blow for blow with McGregor.
The fight, taking place at UFC’s Fight Island on Yas Island, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, can be seen on pay-per-view exclusively in the U.S. through ESPN+. Both fighters combine experience, skill and showmanship, which makes this a gotta-be-watching Saturday night. Coverage begins at 6:15 p.m. EST/3:15 p.m. PST with the early prelims on ESPN+. The pay-per-view begins at 10 p.m. EST/7 p.m. PST. Jon Anik, Daniel Cormier and Dan Hardy are cageside commentators; John Gooden, Paul Felder and Hardy are desk analysts; Bruce Buffer is Octagon announcer.
It’s the second time McGregor and Poirier have faced off — McGregor won the prior match — and this rematch has a lot at stake: The winner of this bout is expected to get a shot at the lightweight title. The loser? He gets back in line among the contenders, probably needing at least one more victory to get another championship fight.
The UFC 257 card, the third 2021 event for the mixed martial arts promoter, which kicked off its schedule for the year with Fight Night on Jan. 16. It puts McGregor back in the Octagon for the first time since he won a 40-second TKO at UFC 246 last year.
UFC President Dana White calls McGregor one of the sport’s best ever. McGregor boasts 19 knockout wins across three different weight classes: welterweight, lightweight and featherweight. He was the first fighter in the sport’s history to hold two titles simultaneously. McGregor is a fan favorite with a global following and holds the record for most pay-per-view buys ever. Outside the ring, his reputation as a bit of a bad boy has only enhanced his fame.
Today, though, McGregor is champion no more, and he is going down to the 155-pound lightweight division — the most talented in UFC — to fight his way back to a belt. Dropping weight is a challenge for any fighter. Will he still be as fearsome at the lower weight? Based on social media posts coming out of McGregor’s camp, fitness is not a concern, but he’ll have to prove it.
For his part, Poirier is the No. 2 ranked lightweight and former interim champion with a string of victories over many of UFC’s top fighters, including four former champions. He’s beaten five former or current belt holders against one loss and one no contest.
Poirier is a Brazilian jiujitsu specialist and is also a seven-time Fight of the Night winner. MMA watchers and insiders consider him one of the best 155-pound fighters in the world.
ESPN+’s Ariel Helwani, a sport’s insider, spoke with Poirier about his defeat at the hands of McGregor at UFC 178 in 2014. Poirier suffered a first-round TKO that changed his perspective and motivated him to his later success. “That was the start of it,” Poirier told Helwani, “and it’s been a long process. It’s been a long evolution of not caring so much about the noise and stuff that doesn’t matter.”
Poirier tuned out all distractions to win 10 more fights, stacking up a career 26-6 record over the past 11 years. Nineteen of his 26 wins were won by knockout or submission.
Since their last tussle, McGregor has won six fights against two losses in UFC. He’s also made high-profile forays into boxing; retired and unretired; and worked as an advertising pitchman.
UFC has exploded in popularity, and for those unfamiliar with the sport, ESPN+ is a great way to catch up. The app offers exclusive Fight Nights, plus archives of the UFC’s greatest fights, and original shows including “Dana White’s Contender Series,” “Detail from the Mind of Daniel Cormier,” “UFC Destined,” and the UFC-focused studio show “Ariel & the Bad Guy,” with Helwani.
There are two ways to get ESPN+: signing up for a standalone subscription (for a monthly $5.99 fee or an annual charge of $59.99, almost a 20% savings) or as part of a bundle with Disney+ and Hulu for $12.99 per month. Or, for $89.98, fans can get an annual subscription to ESPN+ with PPV events, including the UFC 257 card. Existing ESPN+ subscribers can get the UFC 257 stream for $69.99.
UFC 257’s Main Card matchup promises to be an extremely competitive fight with a lot of action. The stakes are high for both fighters and Poirier has a chance to avenge his loss to McGregor. Make sure to get all the inside information by signing up for ESPN+ and purchasing UFC 257 before the Jan. 23 bout.