UFC 264 takes place at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, and will be headlined by the blockbuster trilogy fight between Dustin Poirier and Conor McGregor.
Poirier and McGregor are tied at one-a-piece. In their first fight at UFC 178 in 2014, the Irishman finished his arch-rival in the first round. ‘The Diamond’ seized his revenge by finishing McGregor in the second round of their rematch at UFC 257 this past January.
UFC 264 will be co-headlined by top-five welterweights Gilbert Burns and Stephen Thompson, who’re both eyeing a title shot with an impressive performance on arguably the biggest card of the year.
Here are the keys to victory for Dustin Poirier, Conor McGregor, Stephen Thompson, and Gilbert Burns at UFC 264.
Dustin Poirier vs Conor McGregor
Keys to victory for Dustin Poirier
Leg Kicks: Calf kicks were the talk of the town when Poirier knocked McGregor out in the rematch at UFC 257, and they are going to play a vital role at UFC 264 as well. Whether McGregor uses a boxing approach or switches back to his karate stance, leg kicks are going to play a key role in this fight and will help Poirier neutralize the Dublin native, who relies heavily on his movement, especially on his lead leg to land those devastating left hooks.
Grappling: Poirier should look for takedowns early on, in the first round, because that’s when McGregor is at the peak of his powers. Avoiding a fistfight with McGregor in the first round will be in the best interests of Poirier, and although it will be hard for him to control ‘The Notorious’ on the mat, it will do just enough to disrupt his gameplan and make him spend lots of energy in trying to get back to his feet.
Redefining what it means to 𝑷𝑶𝑼𝑹 𝑰𝑻 𝑶𝑵 😳 #UFC264
— UFC (@ufc) July 7, 2021
Keys to victory for Conor McGregor
Karate stance and Kicks: Poirier is going to look for calf kicks again, so coming into the fight with a boxing-heavy mindset would be the worst thing to do for McGregor. Instead of thinking of Poirier as a warm-up for Manny Pacquiao, McGregor needs to give the Louisiana native the respect he deserves. McGregor should put his dancing shoes on, and constantly switch stances, and move in and out of range to avoid calf kicks.
He should also give Poirier a taste of his own medicine and use his leg kicks to draw him in. McGregor is one of the best kickers in the game but hasn’t fully been utilizing his strengths lately. He should use his kicks to manage distance with Poirier, find his range, and then attack with his most lethal weapon, which is his left hand.
Conserve Energy: McGregor caught Poirier with some really good shots at UFC 257, but Poirier showed great chin and resilience. Poirier has also shown over the years that he’s got a much-improved chin now, and it’ll take something special from McGregor to put him away. In such circumstances, the Irishman should come in prepared for a long fight, pick his shots nicely, avoid being overly aggressive, and wait for Poirier to make mistakes.
In a five-round fight, Poirier will always have the edge over McGregor as far as cardio is concerned, so it’s better for the former two-division champ to fight smartly at UFC 264.
The start of the T A K E O V E R 🇮🇪
— UFC (@ufc) July 4, 2021
Gilbert Burns vs Stephen Thompson
Keys to victory for Gilbert Burns
Close the distance: Thompson has a 6-inch reach and 2-inch height advantage over Burns, and with a wide karate stance, he should keep the Brazilian at bay, unless he takes some risks, and uses his explosiveness to look for the knockout blow. Fighting ‘Wonderboy’ at distance isn’t a good idea for anyone, as he’s one of the best strikers in the world, and stays on the outside, attacking his opponents with all sorts of strikes, from different angles.
Burns should try to pressure him against the cage and put everything behind his shots. Not only will it put Thompson on the back foot, but it will also open opportunities for him to shoot for takedowns.
Grappling: Burns is clearly the better grappler, but Thompson is a terrible matchup for any grappler who fails to take him down. Does Burns have the skills to submit the American? Definitely. But would he be able to take him down? That’s the tough one to answer. However, as mentioned before, if Burns pressures Thompson against the cage, and engages in a phone booth fight, he can shoot for takedowns and potentially take Wonderboy to his world.
It’s a tough thing to do, but it’s his best route to victory.
Changing of the guard 🇧🇷 @GilbertDurinho
— UFC (@ufc) July 4, 2021
Keys to victory for Stephen Thompson
Control the distance: Thompson has a great chance of winning this fight, potentially with a knockout, if he stays at distance and lands volume on Burns, who has shown on more occasions than one that he has a crackable chin. Thompson should be careful with his kicking game however, as Burns can catch one and take him down. He should kick hard and fast and use more spinning attacks to catch his foe by surprise.
If he is able to stay at distance and engages in an all-out stand-up fight against Burns, Thompson is going to put on a striking clinic.
Movement: When strikers face talented grapplers, like Burns, they continuously move and circle to prevent takedowns. Thompson has excellent backward movement and reactions, and if he stays active and keeps moving, he will make it very hard for Burns to score the takedowns at UFC 264. It will tire him out, frustrate him and result in openings for Thompson.