- UFC 264 will be held in Las Vegas on July 10
- It is the first UFC pay-per-view to be held with 100% arena capacity
- Dustin Poirier is a slight favorite over Conor McGregor in their third fight
- McGregor won the first at 145 pounds, Poirier won the rematch at lightweight
- Gilbert Burns-Stephen Thompson and Jennifer Maia-Jessica Eye are other matches to watch
Conor McGregor and Dustin Poirier have a long history, dating back to UFC 178 in September 2014, when McGregor won by first-round TKO at featherweight. Poirier evened the score at UFC 257 in January 2021 with a second-round TKO at lightweight. The rubber match in this trilogy goes off at 155 pounds at UFC 264 in T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. The T-Mobile Arena will also be the first UFC pay-per-view to host a full arena since the COVID-19 pandemic hit. This adds another layer to what should be a wild night in Sin City. How do the UFC 264 odds look?
Elsewhere on the card, a pair of former welterweight championship challengers meet in the middle of the octagon. Stephen Thompson and Gilbert Burns go head-to-head to stay in the mix for another title shot. Jessica Eye and Jennifer Eye will square off in the women’s flyweight division.
Dustin Poirier (-115) vs. Conor McGregor (-105) – Lightweight
Poirier (27-6, 1 NC), a former interim lightweight champion, is ranked #1 in the 155-pound division. That is five spots ahead of McGregor (22-5), the former lightweight and featherweight champion. Poirier became the first man to beat McGregor by knockout in the second round of their fight at UFC 257, using leg kicks to hurt McGregor’s mobility. Then, Poirier pounced and eventually caught his opponent to set up a massive trilogy fight. Of course, the two have already started to go back and forth in the press to promote this fight. Poirier accused McGregor of failing to follow up on a promise to donate to Poirier’s charity, and McGregor responded in a not-so-kind fashion.
Both men are strikers, which is largely how this fight is going to go. Poirier has shown the ability to land takedowns in the past, and he fought a much smarter fight in the rematch than he did in the first fight. McGregor has already started with the verbal warfare, telling Poirier to meet him in the middle of the octagon, implying that Poirier danced around him. But that’s just smart fighting: why stand directly in front of a dangerous striker like McGregor?
UFC 264 odds have Poirier as the early MMA betting favorite for this fight, but only a slight favorite. Both men haven’t been that active, fighting just once each in 2020 and 2021 so far. The odds for this fight are bound to change, given that McGregor is such a public, polarizing fighter. Also, which McGregor are we going to see? He is wildly successful in terms of his finances, and he has a solid legacy in the UFC. But is he properly motivated to get back to the top of the lightweight division?
Stephen Thompson (-145) vs. Gilbert Burns (+120) – Welterweight
Thompson (16-4-1) defeated Geoff Neal by unanimous decision in December 2020, looking more like the “Wonderboy” who rocketed up the welterweight rankings in the middle parts of the 2010s. Meanwhile, Burns (19-4) is looking to get back on track after losing by a third-round TKO to champion Kamaru Usman in February. Burns actually got off to a great start against the champion, landing an early knockdown. However, Burns couldn’t capitalize and Usman showed why he is the champion against his former teammate.
This is definitely a contrast of styles. Thompson is a decorated kickboxer with strong takedown defense, which is surely tested in training with his brother-in-law, former middleweight champion Chris Weidman. It’ll come in handy against Burns, a grappling ace who also has knockout power. These UFC 264 odds are going to move in one direction or another; it’ll be interesting to see which way it goes, the closer we get to the match between these two top-five ranked fighters at 170 pounds.
Jennifer Maia (-210) vs. Jessica Eye (+170) – Women’s Flyweight
Maia (18-7-1) managed to take a round off flyweight champion Valentina Shevchenko in November, but she still lost by unanimous decision quite handily. Eye (15-9) has lost two in a row after a unanimous-decision loss to Joanne Calderwood in January. Both are trying to stay in the championship picture, even though it looks like the flyweight title is going to be Shevchenko’s until she decides to vacate it for any number of reasons.
The major obstacle for both fighters might be just making weight. Maia has missed weight in two of her last four fights, while Eye has missed weight two of her last three fights. If they can manage their weight cut, we should have a pretty entertaining fight, despite the gulf in their UFC 264 odds. Maia is well-rounded with black belts in Muay Thai and Brazilian jiu-jitsu, so she is comfortable wherever the fight goes, although she doesn’t attempt many takedowns. She also showed she was very tough, although her corner should have stopped the Shevchenko fight. Eye is more of a standard striker, but she mixes it up more than Maia, who aims for the head. Eye likes to work the body and legs. This is a very interesting fight to handicap for sports betting players.