Originally published at UFC 264 Report: Conor McGregor breaks leg in loss to Dustin Poirier
UFC 264 Report: Conor McGregor breaks leg in loss to Dustin Poirier
By: Eric Marcotte
UFC 264 took place on Saturday night, from the T-Mobile Arena in Paradise, Nevada. This was expected to be one of the biggest cards of the year, as the event was headlined by the trilogy fight between Dustin Poirier and Conor McGregor. The two first met at featherweight in 2014, a fight McGregor won by first-round TKO. They rematched at lightweight in January of this year, where Poirier was able to even the score, knocking McGregor out in the second round. Naturally, that result led to the creation of this third fight, with the winner likely looking at a fight against the UFC Lightweight Champion, Charles Oliveira, in the near future. In the co-main event, former welterweight title challengers Gilbert Burns and Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson faced off, with both men looking to climb back to championship contention.
The commentary team for this card consisted of Jon Anik, Joe Rogan, and Daniel Cormier. Performance bonuses were awarded to Tai Tuivasa and Dricus Du Plessis. Fight of the Night bonuses went out to Sean O’Malley and Kris Moutinho. Recipients of post-fight bonuses on this card received 75K as opposed to the usual 50K. The reported attendance for this card was 20,062, with a gate of $16.76 million dollars.
*Zhalgas Zhumagulov def. Jerome Rivera by guillotine choke at 2:02 of Round 1
*Brad Tavares def. Omari Akhmedov by split decision (29-28, 29-28, 28-29)
*Jennifer Maia def. Jessica Eye by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27)
*Dricus Du Plessis def. Trevin Giles by KO at 1:41 of Round 2
*Ilia Topuria def. Ryan Hall by KO at 4:47 of Round 1
*Michel Pereira def. Niko Price by unanimous decision (29-28 all)
*Max Griffin def. Carlos Condit by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27)
*Sean O’Malley def. Kris Moutinho by TKO at 4:33 of Round 3
*Irene Aldana def. Yana Kunitskaya by TKO at 4:35 of Round 1
*Tai Tuivasa def. Greg Hardy by KO at 1:07 of Round 1
*Gilbert Burns def. Stephen Thompson by unanimous decision (29-28 all)
*Dustin Poirier def. Conor McGregor by TKO at 5:00 of Round 1
ZHALGAS ZHUMAGULOV (13-5, 125.5) VS JEROME RIVERA (10-5, 125.5) – FLYWEIGHT
Rivera attacked the body throughout the opening minute. Rivera was applying a ton of pressure, but the aggressive strategy ultimately backfired, as he got hurt by a wild left hand from Zhumagulov, and was immediately caught in a brutal-looking guillotine choke as he tried to recover. Despite the awkward angle, Zhumagulov had the choke locked in tight, and Rivera was forced to submit.
WINNER: Zhalgas Zhumagulov by guillotine choke at 2:02 of Round 1
Rivera’s aggressive offense led to success in the opening minute, but it only takes one shot to change a fight entirely, and that’s exactly what happened here. Zhumagulov was one of the larger betting favorites on the card tonight, and he made good on those odds with this quick finish. This marked Zhumagulov’s first UFC win, after dropping his first two bouts in the promotion.
OMARI AKHMEDOV (21-5-1, 185.5) VS BRAD TAVARES (18-6, 184.5) – MIDDLEWEIGHT
They spent a large portion of the first-round trading hooks in the pocket. It was a fairly even fight on the feet, until Akhmedov shot for a takedown, and hurt Tavares with a strike after he quickly escaped from the ground. Akhmedov attempted to follow up on this moment by going on the attack against the cage, but lost his positioning following an inadvertent low blow. Tavares ended the round with a pair of strong left hands. 10-9 Akhmedov, but a close round.
Akhmedov began the second round with another takedown. Once again, Tavares was able to pop right back to his feet and create separation. They exchanged leg kicks, and Akhmedov landed a hard right hand. He was timing that counter right hand better as the round wore on, but his lead leg had taken a ton of damage in the process. Another close round, but I gave the edge to Tavares.
The damage from the leg kicks of Tavares had added up by the final round, and one sent Akhmedov down to the ground early. Tavares caught him with another one as he picked himself up, prompting Akhmedov to go back to his own leg kicks. In the final minute, Tavares really began to go on the attack, and he took this final round decisively. 29-28 Tavares.
WINNER: Brad Tavares by split decision (29-28, 29-28, 28-29)
This was a fun, hard-hitting fight. I was a bit surprised that one of the judges scored the fight for Akhmedov, but the opening rounds were close enough. I thought Tavares looked great here, and he has rebounded well from his losses to Isreal Adesanya and Edmen Shahbazyan. Shahbazyan improved to 14-6 in the UFC with this win.
JENNIFER MAIA (18-7-1, 125.5) VS JESSICA EYE (15-9, 1 NC, 125.5) – FLYWEIGHT
Maia landed a knee to the jaw just outside of the first minute. Maia partially landed a kick, which Eye caught before tripping Maia to the ground. The fight resumed on the feet, where Eye was seemingly the more active fighter, pressuring forward with her boxing. Eye ended the round with a takedown. 10-9 Eye.
Eye was able to take Maia down after catching another kick, but Maia was able to get right back up once again. I thought Maia’s counters were stronger this round, and she landed numerous right hands throughout these five minutes. Eye still appeared comfortable boxing with Maia, although she fell behind in the final minute, largely due to an accidental headbutt. The clash of heads cut Eye open badly, and she was just leaking blood from her forehead by the end of the round. 19-19.
Maia landed the first big shot of the final round, in the form of a hard right hand. The pace of the fight continued at an even pace, with a very similar offensive output from both fighters. This was a tough round to score, but I narrowly gave the round to Eye, largely due to her bodywork. 29-28 Eye.
WINNER: Jennifer Maia by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27)
It was a close fight, but I disagreed with the judge’s decision here. I think Eye did enough offensively to take the first and final rounds, although to be fair, I think it would be a stretch to call them “clear rounds” in favor of Eye. Regardless, Maia rebounded from her loss to Valentina Shevchenko last year and expressed her interest in a rematch following this result. Honestly, I don’t think there is a great chance of that rematch coming together anytime soon, but I don’t fault her in the least for shooting her shot here.
TREVIN GILES (14-2, 185.5) VS DRICUS DU PLESSIS (15-2, 185.5) – MIDDLEWEIGHT
Du Plessis fired off a number of kicks to begin the fight. Late in the round, Du Plessis was able to dump Giles to the ground, and quickly took his back. Giles showcased some high-level defensive grappling to return to his feet, but Du Plessis was able to bring him back to the ground to end the round. 10-9 Du Plessis.
Giles landed a strong knee to the body early in the second round. As Giles began to load up with some big shots on Du Plessis against the cage, Du Plessis fired back, and he dropped Giles hard with a right hand. Du Plessis followed him to the ground, and the fight was quickly stopped after a couple ground and pound shots from Du Plessis.
WINNER: Dricus Du Plessis by KO at 1:41 of Round 2
This was a brutal knockout. Du Plessis wasn’t having much success with his hands throughout the fight, but when he found the opportunity to land that right hand, he made the most of it. He now has 16 finishes throughout his 16 wins, which just screams “must watch fighter”. This marked his second fight in the UFC, and he informed Joe Rogan, Dana White, and all the fans of the proper pronunciation of his name in his post-fight interview.
RYAN HALL (8-1, 145) VS ILIA TOPURIA (10-0, 145.5) – FEATHERWEIGHT
Hall threw up a spinning head kick that partially landed. Hall continuously attempted to pull guard and bring Topuria to the guard, to limited success. Whenever Topuria landed a good shot, Hall would just sort of collapse to the ground as he attempted to turn this into a grappling match. Eventually, Topuria was able to really unload with right hands after catching Hall in an awkward position on the ground, and he knocked Ryan Hall unconscious.
WINNER: Ilia Topuria by KO at 4:47 of Round 1
Topuria promised to knock Ryan Hall out in the first round, and that’s exactly what he did here. Ryan Hall is one of the most unique fighters in the history of the sport and has proven to be a tough fight for numerous featherweights, but Topuria handled Hall perfectly here and picked up arguably the biggest win of his career thus far. Topuria is now 3-0 in the UFC.
NIKO PRICE (14-4, 2 NC, 169.5) VS MICHEL PEREIRA (25-11, 2 NC, 170.5) – WELTERWEIGHT
Pereira began the fight with a powerful jab. Price closed the distance with a right hand before going for a body lock against the cage. It was Pereira however who recorded the first takedown, catching a kick and tripping Price to the ground. Pereira let Price return to the feet as the crowd began to rally behind Niko Price. Pereira connected with a pair of right hands, and another strong jab. Whenever Price looked to close the distance and go on the attack, he was being countered hard. Fun round. 10-9 Pereira.
Pereira continued to pour it on in the second round. Pereira put Price on the ground, and he backflipped into full mount. No really, that actually happened. Pereira began to unleash ground and pound from full mount, but Price was able to threaten a heel hook and return to his feet. Pereira looked exhausted, and Price went on the attack. They traded wild shots against the cage to end the round. 20-18 Pereira.
The third round began where the second round left off, just exchanging wild punches. Pereira threw a heavy kick that landed low, bringing a momentary pause to the action. When the fight resumed, they immediately returned to trading hands, which is exactly what you would expect from this insane fight. Price landed a front kick, and the momentum of the fight had shifted in his favor by this final round. With a minute remaining, Price began to really hunt for the finish, but Pereira was able to make it to the final bell. Amazing fight. 29-28 Pereira.
WINNER: Michel Pereira by unanimous decision (29-28 all)
This was almost a guaranteed fight of the night candidate from the moment it was announced, and it completely delivered. Niko Price and Michel Pereira are two of the most entertaining fighters in the world, and this fight was unsurprisingly insane. Pereira was in control early, but by the midway point of the fight, he had tired, and Price began to take over. He wasn’t able to secure the finish, but it made for a dramatic conclusion, as Price marched forward in search of the late knockout. Pereira is now 4-2 in the UFC.
CARLOS CONDIT (32-13, 171) VS MAX GRIFFIN (17-8, 170.5) – WELTERWEIGHT
Griffin immediately went on the attack, attacking Condit’s lead leg, and mixing in some head kicks as well. Condit was really struggling with the leg kicks early. Condit’s offense wasn’t having the same effect, and Griffin dropped Condit late in the round. Condit was in trouble, but Griffin allowed him to return to his feet. I scored the round 10-9 for Griffin, but I don’t think a 10-8 would have been out of the question.
Griffin continued to beat up the legs of Condit, but Condit was wearing them betting than he had in the opening round. Condit seemed more comfortable on the feet this round and was able to find success when pressuring forward. Griffin defended Condit’s attempts to bring the fight to the ground, but he was starting to get hit by some significant shots on the feet. This was a very close round. 19-19 on my scorecard.
Griffin was fighting far more aggressively to begin the final round. He tagged Condit with a number of hooks before Condit fired back with his own offense. Condit was eating some big shots, but he was never out of the fight and was still able to find success while pushing forward. Griffin landed a big right hand, before taking Condit down near the cage with a minute remaining. He was unable to hold him there, and Condit nearly completed a back transition before the round ended. 29-28 Griffin.
WINNER: Max Griffin by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27)
Another solid fight to end the preliminary portion of the card. Griffin was really putting a beating on Condit throughout the first round, but the fight got more competitive as it progressed. Griffin has really been impressive throughout his last few fights, and his current three-fight win streak is actually his first win streak since debuting in the UFC back in 2016. As for Condit, he is clearly several steps slower than he was a decade ago, but he remains a resilient and creative fighter, and I think there are some fun fights for him against some of the older fighters at 170lbs.
SEAN O’MALLEY (13-1, 135.5) VS KRIS MOUTINHO (9-4, 135) – BANTAMWEIGHT
O’Malley was landing at will to begin this fight. Moutinho’s best offense was coming from his leg kicks, and he was able to occasionally tag O’Malley with some looping right hooks. O’Malley hurt Moutinho with a combination, and his movement was almost non-existent for the next thirty seconds, putting him in a dangerous position. He was able to recover however and began to watch forward. The UFC’s official stats had O’Malley at over sixty strikes landed, compared to just over ten for Moutinho with just over a minute remaining in the round. O’Malley dropped Moutinho with a straight right hand to end the round. 10-8 O’Malley.
O’Malley was working his jab and countering strongly whenever Moutinho pushed forward. Moutinho continued to struggle to find any offensive success, but he never stopped pushing forward regardless. O’Malley continued to tag Moutinho on the feet, and while there were no moments as dramatic as the knockdown in the first, he easily took this round as well. 20-17 O’Malley.
Moutinho was talking to O’Malley as he marched forward. O’Malley landed a head kick and Moutinho responded with a shake of the head. Moutinho was coming considerably closer with his punches when backing O’Malley into the cage, but he still wasn’t landing with any consistency. O’Malley really began to go on the attack in search of the finish late in the round, and while Moutinho was hurt, he stayed on his feet and landed perhaps his best shot of the fight. O’Malley continued to attack Moutinho in the final minute, and while he wasn’t rocked, Herb Dean had seen enough, and he stopped the fight.
WINNER: Sean O’Malley by TKO at 4:33 of Round 3
Joe Rogan was heavily critical of Herb Dean’s decision to stop the fight. It’s going to be one of those stoppages that are heavily debated, and I can see the case for both sides here. On one hand, Moutinho had taken so much damage throughout the fight, that one could say the stoppage was best for the fighter’s safety. On the other hand, Moutinho didn’t appear to be significantly rocked at the moment and was only thirty seconds away from going the distance in a fight he was given no chance in. Regardless, Moutinho made a name for himself on this night against one of the most dangerous fighters in the division. O’Malley called out numerous bantamweights in his post-fight interview, including Cody Garbrandt, Petr Yan, Dominick Cruz, and Rob Font. I think the Garbrandt fight would make sense, but Garbrandt has stated that he plans to move down to flyweight, so we’ll see what happens there.
IRENE ALDANA (12-6, 139.5) VS YANA KUNITSKAYA (14-5, 1 NC, 134.5) – BANTAMWEIGHT
Aldana missed weight by 3.5lbs, and was fined 30% of her purse.
Kunitskaya began the fight with more aggression on the feet than I’ve seen from her previously. Aldana was able to counter Kunitskaya as she pressed forward, busting up her nose and backing Kunitskaya off with a body shot. Aldana dropped Kunitskaya with a left hook, and she jumped into her guard in pursuit of a finish. She really poured it on with the ground and pound, and the fight was eventually stopped.
WINNER: Irene Aldana by TKO at 4:35 of Round 1
Coming off of a rough decision loss to Holly Holm, this was exactly the type of win Aldana needed to rebound in the division. Kunitskaya had strung together a couple of strong wins, but Aldana marked a significant step up in the striking department. Aldana did miss weight for this fight, so you can’t say this was a perfect outing for her, but she picked up another stoppage victory and got her name back in in the race at 135lbs.
TAI TUIVASA (11-3, 263) VS GREG HARDY (7-3, 1 NC, 264.5) – HEAVYWEIGHT
Tuivasa opened up with a number of leg kicks. Hardy began to fire back and it looked as though he had Tuivasa wobbled with a pair of right hands. Hardy rushed in for the finish, and Tuivasa just blasted him with a left hand, dropping Hardy in brutal fashion. He landed a small number of follow-up shots before the fight was stopped.
WINNER: Tai Tuivasa by KO at 1:07 of Round 1
Tuivasa celebrated with a Shoey to the approval of the crowd. This was certainly one of those fights that could have dragged on for a long fifteen minutes (as a small handful of the worst Greg Hardy fights have), but when Hardy rushed in for the finish, he walked right into Tuivasa’s powerful left hand, and I think everybody in attendance was very happy with the result. Not too long ago, Tuivasa was riding a three-fight losing streak and his future in the division seemed uncertain, but he’s turned it around with three straight first-round knockout victories, and Tuivasa is back on the verge of facing ranked competition.
GILBERT BURNS (19-4, 170.5) VS STEPHEN THOMPSON (16-4-1, 170.5) – WELTERWEIGHT
Thompson was able to defend Burns’ first takedown attempt of the fight. He was unable, however, to shake Burns off of him, and they spent a significant amount of time wrestling against the cage. Burns eventually switched to the single leg and was able to take Wonderboy down from there. Thompson was able to keep himself out of danger but ultimately lost this round. 10-9 Burns.
Wonderboy kept Burns at range with his kicks early in the second round. Thompson partially landed a spinning head kick, which increased Burns’ aggression. Burns landed a hard right hand, and attempted a pair of takedowns, succeeding on the second one. They traded punches while seated against the cage to end a close round. 20-18 Burns on my scorecard.
Thompson landed a strong straight right hand in the first minute of round three. Wonderboy connected with a spinning head kick that stumbled Burns, and they began to trade some heavy shots before Burns shot for another takedown. Thompson defended the initial attempt, but found himself with his back to the cage, and was ultimately taken back down. Burns moved into side control and transitioned to full mount before the end of the round. 30-27 Burns.
WINNER: Gilbert Burns by unanimous decision (29-28 all)
Wonderboy is far from the easiest fighter to get to the ground, but Burns was able to do it in each round, and that was the difference-maker in the fight. Thompson was a step ahead on the feet, and going into this fight I thought Burns might be tempted to trade with him regardless, but Burns fought a smart fight, mixing up his attack at all the right moments. Burns called out Jorge Masvidal, Nate Diaz, and Leon Edwards in his post-fight interview.
DUSTIN POIRIER (27-6, 156) VS CONOR MCGREGOR (22-5, 156) – LIGHTWEIGHT
This marked the third fight between these two men. McGregor won their first fight in 2014 by TKO in the opening round, and Poirier won their rematch earlier this year, stopping McGregor in round two.
They did not touch gloves to begin the fight. McGregor opening up with a pair of spinning back kicks to the body. He threw a leg kick and followed it up with a solid left hand. Poirier loaded up with a right hand after they exchanged leg kicks. Poirier connected with a pair of hard-left hands, and McGregor responded by engaging Poirier in the clinch. Poirier shot in for a takedown against the cage, and McGregor nearly caught him in a guillotine before Poirier began to work from top position. McGregor landed a number of elbows from the bottom before Poirier responded with some heavier elbows of his own. Poirier began to unload with brutal ground and pound, while McGregor was doing his best to catch him with an up kick on the way down. With seconds left in the round, Poirier let McGregor back up and McGregor stepped awkwardly on his left leg after a missed punch, breaking his leg in a disgusting fashion.
WINNER: Dustin Poirier by TKO at 5:00 of Round 1
Poirier theorized that McGregor’s leg was fractured from an earlier leg check, and broke completely when stepped back on it later. McGregor disagreed with Poirier’s assessment and said some nasty things about Poirier’s wife in return. This was certainly not the ideal ending to this trilogy fight, and I imagine there will be no shortage of hot takes and headlines coming out of this. As far as the fight is concerned, it was very entertaining until the end, with Poirier pulling ahead towards the end of the round with his ground and pound. The logical fight to make coming out of this is Dustin Poirier versus Charles Oliveira, but logic might not come into play following the finish of this fight. As for McGregor, we don’t know when he will be cleared to fight again following the presumed leg break, but there will be no shortage of opponents lining up for that fight once he’s healthy.