Published Saturday, July 10, 2021 | 7 p.m.
Updated Saturday, July 10, 2021 | 10:41 p.m.
Conor McGregor predicted Dustin Poirier would leave the octagon after UFC 264 in a stretcher.
A stretcher was rolled up to the octagon Saturday night at T-Mobile Arena all right, but it wasn’t for Poirier. It came for McGregor, who broke his ankle at some point of the first round and suffered a first-round TKO loss to Poirier in what could turn out to be the highest-grossing bout in UFC history.
“It happened when I checked a kick early in the fight,” Poirier said of McGregor’s broken ankle. “I felt something. He was kicking me hard.”
A replay made it look like the injury may have occurred when McGregor lunged forward for a punch later in the first round, and the former two-division champion argued that was what actually happened. Unable to walk, he sat on the floor in his corner screaming at Poirier as the Louisiana native celebrated his victory and gave a post-fight interview.
A hostile build-up to the fight had clearly not dissipated after Poirier beat McGregor for the second straight time this year.
“This is not over,” McGregor yelled into the microphone from the ground. “If we have to take this outside, we’ll do it. I don’t give a bollocks.”
McGregor would just need help actually getting outside after he was unable to stand on his own. His team turned away the stretcher initially, but eventually had to use it to get him outside the arena.
McGregor may be disappointed he wasn’t able to continue, but the fight wasn’t going his way regardless. After a strong start where he hit Poirier with some spinning leg kicks and sunk in a guillotine attempt, Poirier took over with the fight on the ground.
He elbowed and punched McGregor repeatedly over the final half of the first round to create what should have been a clear 10-9 round on all the judges’ scorecards.
“There are no holds barred with trash talk but he was saying he was going to murder me, that I wasn’t going to get out of here alive,” Poirier said. “We don’t talk like that. I hope this guy gets home safely to his beautiful money.”
Poirier didn’t have all positive things to say about McGregor, though, as he went on to accuse him of dirty tactics in the fight.
“This guy is a dirtbag,” Poirier said.
McGregor may not have acquitted himself well by protesting the loss and making an inaudible remark about Poirier’s wife, a regular target of his trash talk this week, while he medics attended to him. Poirier briefly tried to rush at his downed opponent in the aftermath, but there was never anything close to the post-fight brawl that occurred after Khabib Nurmagomedov’s UFC 229 win over McGregor.
McGregor yelled that it was a “doctor’s stoppage” on his way out of the arena, wanting to make it clear that he didn’t quit in between rounds.
The injury was a violent end to what was a violent night with the UFC’s return to its home arena in front of a sold-out crowd. The co-main event between Gilbert Burns and Stephen Thompson went to decision with the former defeating the latter via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28) but all the other main-fight cards ended in stoppage.
Sean O’Malley, who’s often compared to McGregor, opened the pay-per-view with a third-round TKO victory over Kris Moutiho in a bantamweight bout. Like McGregor, Moutinho objected to the stoppage.
He was still on his feet but the referee had seen enough with O’Malley having landed 230 significant strikes, the second-most in UFC history for a three-round fight. Irene Aldana followed with a TKO of her own, beating Yana Kunitskaya at 4:35 of the first round.
The highlight of the night might have come in the third fight when Tai Tuivasa knocked out Greg Hardy at 1:07 of the first round. Tuivasa could be the breakout star on a night where the sports world’s eyes were on the UFC.
Hardy, the former Dallas Cowboys edge rusher, is a controversial figure for his domestic-violence past and Tuivasa said he “deserved” the beating. To celebrate, the Australian native chugged a beer out of a shoe.
“He wanted to bang with me,” Tuivasa said. “I’m the wrong guy to bang with.”
Poirier and McGregor may have never gotten to engage in a similar type of firefight that they expected, but it was largely because of the injury. UFC President Dana White said “you can’t have a fight end that way” and expressed interest in rebooking the bout somewhere down the line.
In the meantime, Poirier will face Charles Oliveira for the lightweight title before the end of the year. No matter what caused his broken ankle, McGregor will need time to recover before considering his future.
Read below for live updates from the main card and find preliminary results at the bottom of the page.
Dustin Poirier vs. Conor McGregor III
First Round: McGregor came out strong; Poirier finished strong. McGregor started throwing spinning leg kicks and calf kicks, sending Poirier to look to close the distance. But that got him in trouble as McGregor got Poirier in a guillotine choke. It wasn’t tight enough though, as Poirier broke through and began bashing McGregor with ground-and-pound. McGregor appeared to survive but the fight was waved off at the conclusion of the round as McGregor suffered an apparent ankle injury. Poirier officially beats McGregor a second time in a row via TKO.
Gilbert Burns vs. Stephen Thompson
“Wonderboy” Thompson had to know he couldn’t be taken down if he wanted to beat “Durinho” Burns in a welterweight bout, and he couldn’t stop it. Burns scored takedowns in every round to defeat Thompson by unanimous decision (29-28. 29-28. 29-28) in the co-main event. Thompson did get the better of Burns in the feet in the second round and rocked him in the third round, but it wasn’t enough. Burns’ victory was the first upset of the night and helps build the former top contender back up after a loss earlier this year to champion Kamaru Usman.
Tai Tuivasa vs. Greg Hardy
The heavyweight firefight lived up to the billing. It just didn’t last long. First, Hardy rocked Tuivasa and went in for the finish. But Tuivasa countered and sent Hardy down to the floor. For a moment, it appeared Hardy was out cold but the referee let the fight go on until the former Dallas Cowboy wasn’t defending himself from ground-and-pound. Tuivasa wins via TKO at 1:05 of the first round.
Irene Aldana vs. Yana Kunitskaya
Make it two straight TKOs to start the main card. Aldana dispatched Kunitskaya a lot easier than O’Malley did Moutinho — and a lot faster. Aldana rocked Kunitskaya with a right hand late in the first round, and followed up with ground-and-pound before the referee stepped in. The official time of Aldana’s victory goes down as 4:35 of the first round.
Sean O’Malley vs. Kris Moutinho
O’Malley and Moutinho traded haymakers in a crowd-pleasing fight that ended in a controversial stoppage. O’Malley was landing way more shots, and to much greater effect, but Moutinho refused to go down throughout nearly the entire 15-minute duration. He was only undone when referee Herb Dean had seen enough, making the rare move to call the fight with Moutinho still on his feet. Moutinho protested and the crowd, which was already up for a standing ovation, greatly protested. But it will officially go down as a TKO victory at 4:33 of the third round for O’Malley over Moutinho.
They say the mental aspect is one of the most challenging parts of the fight game, and there are questions in that area for both of the men headlining UFC 264 at T-Mobile Arena.
In a main event as close as the pick’em fight between Dustin Poirier and Conor McGregor, mindset might be as important as any physical gameplan in determining who breaks the tie and wins the trilogy in the third fight. Poirier and McGregor are expected to walk to the octagon at around 9:15 p.m. tonight following 11 other fights in the UFC’s first event with fans in its hometown since March 2020.
Mentality concerns are much more at the forefront with McGregor, as UFC President Dana White is among the many wondering about the fighter’s motivation level after making hundreds of millions of dollars the last several years. McGregor has fought in the octagon only three times since becoming the UFC’s first dual-division champion, going 1-2 including a second-round TKO loss to Poirier in January.
McGregor says he’s focused and as hungry as ever, but the onus is now on him to prove it.
Poirier has been open about his mental struggles in the past, but says he’s past them now and in a good place as he looks to beat McGregor in back-to-back bouts. By Poirier’s own admission, McGregor got into his head in 2014 as the former champion’s renowned mental warfare contributed to a first-round knockout loss.
Poirier kept his cool ahead of UFC 257 in January, and got the result he wanted to show for it. But there were some key differences between that event and tonight’s — Namely, the lack of fans and trash talk.
McGregor treated Poirier respectfully going into their second fight, but has since gotten back to taunting him and even brought his wife, Jolie Poirier, into the trash talk this time around. The sold-out T-Mobile Arena crowd is also expected to be partial to the more-popular McGregor.
A number of Irish flags were already inside at the start of the first fight around 3:30 p.m.
Poirier says none of that bothers him anymore, but he did appear to be uncomfortable at times during a tense news conference in the building Thursday afternoon.
This is the rare UFC pay-per-view with no championships on the line, but the winner of Poirier vs. McGregor III will claim a lightweight title shot as could Stephen Thompson in the welterweight division if he beats Gilbert Burns in the co-main event.
Stay tuned for updates from the main card and read below for full results from the undercard.
· Max Griffin defeated Carlos Condit by unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28) in a welterweight bout to finish off the preliminary card.
· In what was likely the Fight of the Night, Michel Pereira engaged in a welterweight slugfest against Niko Price and escaped with a unanimous-decision victory (29-28, 29-28, 29-28).
· Ilia Topuria knocked out Ryan Hall at 4:46 of the first round in their featherweight bout.
· Dricus Du Plessis rag-dolled Trevin Giles throughout their middleweight bout, ultimately getting the finish via knockout at 1:41 of the second round. Du Plessis demanded fans "remember his name" and predicted he would soon be ranked in the top 10 after the victory, and his performance left no reason to disagree.
·Jennifer Maia edged Jessica Edge via controversial unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28) in a women's flyweight bout. It was a close, back-and-forth battle but the judges may have been unduly influenced by a huge cut on Eye's forehead caused by an inadvertent headbutt.
· Local middleweight Brad Tavares made a thrilling comeback after getting wobbled by Omari Akhmedov early. Tavares turned the tables and nearly got a finish late in the fight to win a split decision (29-28, 29-28, 28-29).
· Zhalgas Zhumagulov defeated Jerome Rivera by submission at 2:02 of the first round in their flyweight bout.