UFC 264: The Best and Worst
Written by Emjay on July 12, 2021
This weekend’s UFC event, billed as the biggest event of the year, showcased the very best and the very worst that the UFC stands for – from creating dreams to witnessing utter classlessness!
The outcome of the main event of UFC 264 did not play out like anyone would have imagined. Poirier fans will no doubt be celebrating as his record now shows two wins over the biggest star in the sport’s history, although it did not come the way they might have preferred.
During the closing stages of the first round, Conor McGregor sustained an awful suspected fracture to his left leg – which was later confirmed as a break to “the lower tibia in his left shin”. This is now the third incident of this sort in recent events with both Anderson Silva and more recently, Chris Weidman, having sustained similar breaks in the UFC octagon. What followed was something out of an episode of South Park.
Firstly, watching the sport’s greatest star plead for the decision to be recorded as a doctor’s stoppage was insane. We all know that perception is everything in modern day sports – just look and the Paul brothers – as this pleading continued the “bullshit baffles brains” nonsense that McGregor made up about his record being 19-1! I understand that he does not want the loss to be a TKO but at the end of the day the trilogy sits at 2-1 in favour of Poirier.
Secondly, the post-fight comments gave Poirier the opportunity to put a bow on what the UFC is slowly becoming – a place where personal attacks are encouraged in an attempt to attract casual violence enthusiasts whom Joe Rogan so eloquently termed “mouth breathers”. This is not the first time McGregor has insulted an opponent’s family, with UFC President – Dana White – commenting on the statements made by McGregor in the build-up to UFC 229 (Nurmagomedov v McGregor). In the build up to this event, his licence was again deafening until afterwards, when he stated “I don’t like that,” and “That’s not good. Leave people’s families and wives and all that stuff out of it. Family has nothing to do with it.” Why? Why only after?
Because he lives for it! He needs it! The UFC needs it! It sells tickets! A perfect example was when Poirier called McGregor a “dirtbag” and the crowd erupted in a cacophony of boos. If Poirier is a man of his word there’s probably still a queue of “mouth breathers” lined up for their chance to kiss his “whole asshole”, that I will be holding him to this at all!
Finally, the post-fight comments by McGregor showed just how deluded and classless he has become. Was he “boxing the bleeding head off” of Poirier? I, like many others, do not think so. Especially considering that most gave him little chance if the fight moved past the first round.
“If I have to take it outside, let’s take it outside” was another comment made by McGregor, along with “your wife is in my DMs. Hey baby, hit me back up on chat later on. We’ll be at the after party, the Wynn nightclub, baby. You’re looking fit, you little hoe. Fuck him”. Dare I say – Case closed.
If the last loss was a bitter pill for McGregor to swallow, this loss – which leaves him with just one win in the last four and a half years – and particularly his post fight rant, must truly get stuck in his green throat.
In the build-up to the trilogy, Poirier stated that “you can have all the money in the world but you can’t buy heart”. Looking back on the fight and in particular the events directly after the fight, what he should have said was “you can have all the money in the world but you can’t buy class”!
In the co-main event, multiple-time jiu-jitsu world champion, Gilbert Burns, utilised those grappling skills to get inside the arsenal of former kickboxing world champion, Stephen Thompson. Fighting for the first time since his loss to UFC welterweight champion Kamaru Usman in February, Burns did enough to earn a clear unanimous decision win and put himself back in contention for another title shot. The loss, quite possibly ends any title aspirations for Thompson.
In the only heavyweight fight on the night, Tai Tuivasa handed the divisive Greg Hardy his second knockout loss of his career with a thunderous counter left hook just 67 seconds into the fight. This fight again showed that Hardy is still making basic amateur errors despite taking almost a year off to work on his skills when it comes to fighting men. What this fight also showed was the magnificence that is the UFC as Tai Tuivasa, who walked out to the The Spice Girls, picked up $100,000 for less than two minutes work in the office and then proceeded to have his first “shoey” on top of the cage followed by a few more with fans on the way back to the change-rooms.
The women’s bantamweight bout saw the continuation of the “Mexican wave” that started after Brandon Moreno became the first Mexican-born fighter to win a UFC strap. Irene Aldana defeated Yana Kunitskaya by way of a patient first-round TKO. Aldana, who weighed in 3.5 pounds overweight and was fined 30% of her purse, has two finishes with her boxing in her last two wins despite her storied ground credentials. The loss snaps Kunitskaya’s two-fight win-streak.
The opening fight of the main card was meant to be a formality for Sean O’Malley as he faced Kris Moutinho, a debutante who took the fight on a few days notice after Louis Smolka withdrew due to staph infection. O’Malley landed a career-best 249 strikes, many of which did not seem to faze Moutinho, who never stopped advancing and protested the stoppage afterwards. With many criticising of the stoppage by referee Herb Dean, the argument can be made either way; having allowed the fight to go on for so long, surely another few seconds would have allowed the debutante – who was living a dream debut on a UFC main card – to have avoided a finish (remember perceptions). Alternatively, stopping the fight during a lengthy barrage of punches in the centre of the octagon at the end of round three, may well have “added years to his life”. But if you support the latter, then the fight should have been stopped in the second round!
The prelims saw another interesting match-up of fighters that had brought out the usual bias in the UFC commentators.
Max Griffin earned a unanimous decision win over the former UFC interim champion and fan favourite Carlos Condit who competed in his 46th professional MMA fight.
Michel Pereira survived a 3rd round blitz by the ‘never-say-die’ Nico Price to win by unanimous decision extending his win-streak to three fights. For Price, he is now winless in his last three fights. The only disappointment here was the lack of seeing more of Pereira’s outlandish techniques, then again, he is winning more consistently.
The most bizarre fight on the card was most certainly the the bout between Ilia Topuria and the ‘much dodged’ Ryan Hall. Having had trouble booking consistent fights due to his unorthodox style, Hall showcased that style for the entire duration of the fight coming out sideways with low hands looking to execute as many leg attacks in the form of Imanari rolls as would be necessary to get hold of Topuria’s leg and tear it clean off! Unfortunately for Hall, the fight did not go to towels as Topuria, following several “escapes”, pounced on an opening to finish the fight via KO with just over ten seconds remaining in the first round. It’s the first loss for Hall since 2006, while Topuria remains undefeated.
What better way to start the prelims than to watch a fellow South African, in his second appearance in the UFC octagon. Following a short notice call for his debut win, Dricus Du Plessis had a full fight-camp to prepare for his second fight against the dangerous Trevin Giles who was on a three-fight win streak. After winning the ground exchanges in the first round, it was during the early part of the second round that Du Plessis exploded off the cage from a defensive cover-up to instantly end the fight with a thunderous right hand. It looked for a moment like he had knocked the beard off of Giles! The win was Du Plessis’ seventh career KO and extends his 100 percent finish rate to 16.
The winners of the $75,000 bonuses on offer at UFC 264:
Fight of the Night: Sean O’Malley v Kris Moutinho
Performances of the Night: Tai Tuivasa and Dricus Du Plessis