UFC 264 in review

July 10th saw to one of the most packed fight cards ever seen in the UFC. Taking place in Las Vegas at the T-Mobile Arena where 20,000 people were in attendance. The fight had a total gate of $15,759,800, which is the amount of money from ticket sales alone. The card featured many fan-favorite fighters and of course the main event: the trilogy fight between Conor McGregor and Dustin Poirier. Even the preliminary fights were a half decent card all on their own. This pay per view takes its place as the 6th most bought PPV event ever with 1.8 million buys, surpassing the sequel fight from January earlier this year. No doubt due to the star power of Conor Mcgregor and the UFC’s efforts to take capitalize on the attention that McGregor garners for all his events by stacking it even further with fan favorites and high-ranking fighters across many divisions. I am also really only writing about this card due to the attention drawn to it from it being a Conor Mcgregor card, regardless of how much I liked the other fights on the card.

The card kicked off with an exciting fan-favorite Sean O’Malley facing off against a short notice opponent in Kris Moutinho who took the fight after Ricky Simon missed the 135 lb limit for the bantamweight division and was forced to pull out of the fight. Having missed his opportunity to fight his first ranked opponent, the, still unranked, O’Malley managed to still put on an impressive show. The flashy and calculated striker lit up Moutinho through three rounds landing a whopping 230 significant strikes adding up to approximately 15 strikes per minute until the eventual stoppage by Herb Dean. A decision questioned by many since Moutinho was still trotting forward, but it prevented his skull being used as O’Malley’s punching bag for another 30 seconds. Although Kris Moutinho had lost, he put everything on the line in front of everyone in the audience and at home on his debut in less than 2-weeks notice. A commendable feat no matter the result.

The next fight passed by the card quickly as female bantamweights Irene Aldana and Yana Kunitskaya faced off for a very brief bout. Aldana had missed weight by 3.5lbs over the 135lb bantamweight limit and forfeited 30% of her fight purse due to the ordeal. Mexican fighter, Irene Aldana put on an explosive performance as she let her hands fly at Russian fighter Kunitskaya. Aldana caught her opponent with many sharp punches, bloodying her face early in the fight. The Russian fighter eventually fell to Aldana’s sharp lead left hook in the third minute, which allowed the Mexican fighter to take advantage and land ground and pound from a dominant position. The fight was called in the fourth minute after the Russian gave up her back and left her head open for multiple unanswerable shots. Irene Aldana now sits at the #4 spot in the women’s bantamweight division.

The big boys came to play as the next fight featured two heavyweight contenders outside of the top 10 rankings for the division. Australian Born Fighter, Tai “Bam Bam” Tuivasa, and American, Greg “Prince of War” Hardy took to the ring for the shortest fight of the night in true heavyweight fashion. Greg Hardy, renowned asthmatic cokehead and woman beater, seemed to stun Tai Tuivasa within the first minute in an initial flurry of punches. The former NFL defensive-end  tried to close the fight, the Australian managed to catch Hardy clean with a hammer of a counter left hook square in the face of Hardy, sending him to the ground and ending the fight within 67 seconds. Tuivasa then put on another show as he proceeded to perform several “shoeys” where he chugged beer out of the shoes of multiple strangers in the crowd, living up to his second nickname “Shoeyvasa”. 

It was time for the co-main event which included two high ranked welterweights in Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson and Gilbert “Durinho” Burns in their efforts to earn potential title shots against the champion Kumaru Usman. The Brazilian Bruns was looking to redeem himself after an underwhelming knockout loss to the champion while 38-year old Stephen Thompson was looking to finally earn himself another title shot this time against the new champion. With Thompson being one of the best strikers in the UFC and Gilbert burns a very heavy-handed grappler, the match-up was set to be interesting on paper. Yet to my disappointment the fight ended up being a grappling heavy waste of time. Burns sought only to take down Wonderboy and do nothing with his 7 minutes of control time except land little rabbit punches that wouldn’t even give a baby CTE. Thompson landed several strikes, but not enough across 3 rounds to sway the judges’ decision for a unanimous decision for Gilbert Burns. The Brazilian bullfrog is likely to fight another high ranked opponent while Wonderboy aims to find another top 5 ranked opponent soon as he sustained no damage versus Burns.

The highly anticipated trilogy matchup between Conor Mcgregor and Dustin Poirier was all that was left on this night. The intensity between the two fighters was escalated to the level of their first fight. The second fight was an odd combination of uncommon compliments and niceties by Mcgregor towards Poirier. There were no compliments of any sort shared between the two during the lead-up to the night. As the fight kicked off, McGregor opened with spinning body kicks, reminiscent of his earlier quick blitzing style. McGregor also threw some of his own leg kicks which were the same kicks that Poirier shut him down with in their second fight. Poirier was backed up initially by the strikes but retained equal ring control with Mcgregor with the two landing both good and glancing strikes. Poirier managed to take McGregor down early in the first round, but McGregor quickly pulled guard and nearly submitted Poirier via guillotine choke until Poirier crawled up the cage to roll out of it. Poirier landed some strong strikes from the top, but McGregor returned fire with a series of up-kicks and hard elbows from the bottom position. The two returned to their feet and McGregor blitzed back in looking for his signature left hand to land on Poirier. On his way out of the engagement, McGregor seemed to collapse instantly without contact. Poirier jumped on the opportunity to land more strikes, before Herb Dean intervened, seeing that McGregor had snapped his lower shin in two. As the fight was being stopped, McGregor was on the ground still talking back to Poirier, but the decision was a TKO in favor of Poirier who walked around high and mighty like he actually did anything. What else would you expect from the silly Louisiana hillbilly?

The initial assumption as to the cause of the leg break was that Poirier had skillfully checked one of McGregor’s kicks, but Poirier only checked one kick and it was on McGregor’s foot far from where the break occurred. Statements from the McGregor camp came out saying that he had had many issues with the shin during the training camp and the overuse is what eventually led to the break in the fight. Not wanting to postpone the biggest PPV of the year, McGregor went on with his fight, and unfortunately the camp’s worst fears were actualized. Poirier is now set to fight Charles Oliveira for the lightweight title later this year. McGregor has not stated a fight he truly wants yet, but he remains stirring up drama around the MMA community like a smug one-legged leprechaun. Either way, McGregor is rich beyond what most of us can comprehend so he can do whatever he wants, and I will probably still end up watching it.