One of the biggest fights of the year goes down on Saturday night when Dustin Poirier and Conor McGregor meet in a rubber match in the lightweight main event of UFC 264. The pair top the loaded fight card set for T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. Big fights draw plenty of attention and almost everyone has an opinion on how the third meeting between Poirier and McGregor will go down.
For some, like former UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov, the fight is a pick ’em, with Nurmagomedov telling UFC Russia, “Once again, same thing here — the first round is for Conor, he can take it. If he doesn’t [win in the first round], then Dustin wins.”
But for others, there’s a clear pick for which man gets his hand raised at the end of the night. Let’s take a look at who a host of top fighters — and a few from outside the MMA world — are picking to win Dustin Poirier vs. Conor McGregor 3.
Heavyweight boxing champion Tyson Fury:
Former UFC welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre: “I think McGregor is very good in rematches and I think he’s going to have the victory,” St-Pierre said. “I think he’s probably going to win in the second round by knockout.” [TriStar Gym YouTube]
UFC heavyweight Ciryl Gane: “My pick is going to be Conor McGregor. Maybe he’s going to finish the fight before the end.” [James Lynch]
Former UFC fighter and analyst Dan Hardy: “I think it’s a very competitive third fight. I’m very interested to see it. I think I’m leaning towards McGregor slightly, but that’s not in any way to devalue Poirier and his chances. He’s an excellent fighter. There’s no doubt.” [Real Quick with Mike Swick]
UFC bantamweight Sean O’Malley: “Who do I got that’s the question? I got Conor, man I wanna see Conor win cause I wanna see another huge fight. I love big crazy events … Conor vs Dustin 3 is a huge event.” [O’Malley’s YouTube page]
UFC welterweight Stephen Thompson: “He’s got to come back out the same old Conor McGregor we’re used to seeing, with the same movement; not the boxing, staying in front of you, trying to bang it out type of Conor McGregor. He’s got to bring that karate style back if he’s going to go out there and finish him. He’s a smart guy. And, you know, he’s hungry; hates to lose. So, man, that’s a tough one. You know what, 500 bucks, I’m going for Conor.” [James Lynch]
Movie star Sylvester Stallone: “I mean, you have two guys who are psychologically a little hesitant, but Poirier has a big-time advantage.” [TMZ Sports]
UFC welterweight champion Kamaru Usman:
UFC welterweight Colby Covington: “Yeah, he’ll probably beat Conor again. But, I mean, what is that saying? You’re beating a guy that has no motivation left in the sport. And I love Conor. He’s had a great career, done great things in the sport, but you’re time’s up, too. It’s obvious that you’re not training every day, it’s obvious you’re not working on your craft, it’s obvious you’re working on other business deals to line your pockets and pad your bank account. It’s just not the same hungry Conor from a couple of years ago. It’s a different Conor towards the end of his journey and it’s not saying much to beat him anymore.” [MMA Fighting]
Former boxing champion Paulie Malignaggi: “I think [McGregor] is probably going to get his ass kicked again, to be honest. But that’s OK because they’ll tell you that he wasn’t focused again, they’ll tell you it’s because he just sold his whiskey for $600 million.” [Malignaggi told Helen Yee]
UFC lightweight Dan Hooker: “I just don’t think that that’s enough time to make the adjustment. Like after he got knocked out, he would’ve had to have a fair bit of time off… I just don’t feel like he’s had that much time in the gym to make the necessary adjustments. … So, just because of the time constraints, I don’t see that fight playing out any different.” [Sportskeeda]
American Kickboxing Academy head coach Javier Mendez: “I’m gonna go with Dustin because I like Dustin and I’m not a fan of Conor. I can never be a fan of Conor. I’m never a fan of his, never. I never want him to win so it is what it is. He doesn’t want my guys to win, I don’t want him to win. Tough, it is what it is. I’m going with Dustin. A lot because I think he can do it. But also because I don’t like the other guy.” [Real Quick with Mike Swick]
Original posted at www.cbssports.com