3 things we learned from UFC 257

Here is what we can take away following UFC 257.

The heavily-hyped UFC 257 card delivered in a big way — though perhaps not with the victors most people, let alone the sportsbooks, expected.

In the main event, Dustin Poirier made history by becoming the first man to knock out Conor McGregor, putting the Irish superstar away in the second round in their main event bout. Prior to that, Michael Chandler — the former Bellator lightweight king who was making his anticipated UFC debut — blew people away with an impressive first-round knockout of Dan Hooker.

Both men were underdogs heading into their respective fights, and now both find themselves in interesting positions in the lightweight title picture in the aftermath of UFC 257.

Here’s what we learned.

Three things we have learned following the conclusion of UFC 257

1. Dustin Poirier solidifies himself as a UFC legend

If you didn’t think Dustin Poirier should be considered a future UFC Hall of Famer before, it’s time to start believing.

After Dustin Poirier was finished by Conor McGregor at UFC 178 in September 2014, the then-featherweight contender moved up to lightweight, as he looked to find a new path towards UFC gold and legacy. Needless to say, his legacy should now be unbreakable, as it’s led to him scoring revenge and defeating McGregor in the main event of the highly-hyped UFC 257. And as part of that, Poirier became the first man ever to finish McGregor by KO or TKO in MMA.

What lies ahead for him next is a wide array of possibilities. UFC President Dana White stated if Khabib Nurmagomedov is truly retired and vacating the UFC lightweight championship, Poirier fighting Michael Chandler makes a lot of sense following Chandler’s UFC debut. Poirier, however, feels a fight with Charles Oliviera makes more sense. While Poirier also isn’t as interested in another fight with Justin Gaethje, the two put on a banger in 2018 that would be just as highly entertaining a rematch.

Even Nate Diaz has teased a desire to finally put on the fight over two years in the making with Poirier.

Whatever happens next, while it’s tough for someone to gain the reach McGregor has, Poirier should be a mainstream, “needle-moving” star like him, or Diaz, or Jorge Masvidal.

Poirier has long quoted legendary boxing trainer Teddy Atlas in saying he always has 25 minutes to make life fair when he enters the cage. Between all his accomplishments inside the cage, and outside it thanks to his foundation work, Poirier should forever be the people’s champion of UFC.

2. Time to stop the Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Conor McGregor 2, Manny Pacquiao vs. Conor McGregor talk

Buckle up, this is going to be a long one.

We don’t know where Conor McGregor goes from here after his TKO loss to Dustin Poirier. What should be for certain, however, is this puts any talk of a rematch with Khabib Nurmagomedov away for multiple reasons — as well as a rumored boxing match with Manny Pacquiao.

Firstly, there’s the aforementioned fact that Nurmagomedov has said — in spite of White’s claim that he is watching to see if something impresses him — that he still has no interest in continuing his fighting career.

Secondly, even if Nurmagomedov does come back and fight a lightweight contender, needless to say, it won’t be McGregor following his loss. Even when you consider that the bad blood is still there with Nurmagomedov’s post-fight comments and McGregor’s response at his post-fight press conference, McGregor still lost and should fall from the ranks of the upper echelon of 155-pound contenders.

And, honestly, we aren’t missing out on much if we never see Nurmagomedov vs. McGregor 2. That fight, in spite of what McGregor may feel and in spite of all the money it could make, was a one-sided beatdown. Nurmagomedov pretty much rode McGregor out for most of that fight and pummeled him until scoring a submission in the fourth round. And after the tasteless pre-fight hype (where McGregor’s illegal actions inside the Barclays Center during the lead-up to UFC 223) and post-fight melee, we don’t need that fight again.

And above all else, if Nurmagomedov wishes to not fight again — if he wishes to keep the promise he made to his mother that he would not fight again following his father’s death — that is Nurmagomedov’s right as a fighter, as a man, as an individual. It sucks to see him go, but the man accomplished quite a bit in his career; let him do what he desires.

So where does McGregor go from here? A trilogy bout with Poirier is plausible, but Poirier will probably be needed (and want to be a part of, of course) for the UFC lightweight title’s immediate future.

Perhaps it’s finally time for McGregor to have that trilogy fight with Nate Diaz. Maybe we finally get McGregor vs. Tony Ferguson due to the fact they’re both coming off losses to legit contenders in the division. Perhaps there’s a chance we can run that fight with Jorge Masvidal if Masvidal vs. Colby Covington doesn’t work out (or if the opportunity comes following that bout). Perhaps it’s time to give Justin Gaethje a big payday if he’s not going to be fighting for the belt next.

There’s always the chance that McGregor could return to boxing; there were those rumors about a potential fight with WBA welterweight champ Manny Pacquiao. But after that loss, that fight is probably off the table, too, for now — especially with Mike Coppinger of The Athletic now reporting that Pacquiao is negotiating a title defense against Ryan Garcia.

The combat community has stated (joking or not) that McGregor could fight Jake Paul…and while that’d certainly make money, the less said about that, the better for now.

3. Michael Chandler is for real in the UFC lightweight title picture

The UFC went full out for Michael Chandler’s UFC debut — he was named the backup to Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Justin Gaethje in October, he was celebrated as a former Bellator champion (which the UFC never mentions) and he was thrown to the wolves right away via a matchup with Dan Hooker in the UFC 257 co-main event.

Chandler holds notable wins over noted names during his decade in Bellator, defeating the likes of Benson Henderson, Patricky “Pitbull” Freire and Eddie Alvarez. In fact, he and Alvarez had two of the greatest fights in Bellator history prior to Alvarez jumping to the UFC in 2014.

But when you consider how loaded the UFC’s lightweight division is and the names there, some had questions if Chandler was going to be able to hang with the UFC’s 155-pound roster — mainly its upper echelon of contenders.

Chandler responded by putting those questions to bed with an incredible first-round TKO, good enough for his first UFC post-fight bonus as well.

Chandler has certainly proven he belongs in the title picture scene with such a win. The question now, however, is where does he go from here? Who is the perfect opponent for him next?

Chandler doesn’t believe Nurmagomedov would come back to face him since he’s new on the scene — even if he thinks he can beat Nurmagomedov. White thinks a Poirier vs. Chandler fight works for a vacant title, but Poirier has no interest in facing Chandler due to him just arriving in the UFC and beating someone Poirier already beat in Hooker.

If Gaethje isn’t fighting for the title next and Chandler doesn’t get the chance to fight for the strap, maybe that’s a pairing to make. If the red-hot Oliveira isn’t fighting for the title next, maybe pair Chandler with him. Either of those fights also makes good for a vacant title fight.

White has some interesting choices to make, and the UFC and Chandler should continue to strike while the “iron” is hot.

UFC 257 took place on Saturday, Jan. 23, 2021, live from Yas Island in Abu Dhabi, UAE. Follow along with FanSided for all your live news and highlights.

Published at Mon, 25 Jan 2021 15:51:40 +0000

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