By: Frank Hyden, MMATorch Senior Columnist
There were no events last week so I’ll just talk about UFC 264 this Saturday and the ridiculous Interim UFC Heavyweight Title fight at UFC 265.
UFC 264 is this Saturday, July 10th and is headlined by the rubber match between Dustin Poirier and Conor McGregor. These two fought in January, with Poirier winning by TKO in the second round. I don’t see how this fight is going to be much different. McGregor always has a chance to knock his opponents out with that left hand of his but I think Poirier is ready for that. Poirier has only lost once since 2016, and that was to Khabib Nurmagomedov. He’s won seven times in that time period, including wins over Anthony Pettis, Max Holloway, Eddie Alvarez, and Justin Gaethje.
Meanwhile, McGregor has only fought three times since 2016, the loss to Poirier most recently but also a loss to Nurmagomedov in 2018. A win over Donald Cerrone in January 2020 rounds out his fight record in the last nearly five years.
I think Poirier wins but I’ll give McGregor that he’ll make it all five rounds.
The co-main event is Gilbert Burns vs. Stephen Thompson. Burns just lost to UFC Welterweight Champion Kamaru Usman but before that had won six fights in a row. Thompson has won two straight after going 1-3-1 in his five fights prior to that. If Thompson wins, he could get a title shot against Usman. Thompson hasn’t stopped an opponent since 2016 (I guess that’s the magic year) but he’s always a tough fight. His style is very unique and it’s hard to prepare for. I think Thompson wins a really close decision.
Derrick Lewis vs. Ciryl Gane has been added to UFC 265. That’s cool, cards can always use additional interesting fights on them. UFC Featherweight and UFC Bantamweight Champion Amanda Nunes will defend her bantamweight title against Julianna Pena. That’s great, Nunes is an incredible fighter and I love watching her fight. Jose Aldo also fights Pedro Munhoz. So Lewis-Gane adds more firepower to the UFC’s return to Houston. I like that. What I don’t like is the UFC throwing an Interim title into the mix. UFC Heavyweight Champion Francis Ngannou just won the title in March so it’s only been a little over 3 months. He’s also talked about wanting to fight in September, which is 2 months away. So if there’s only five months in between title defenses, why an Interim title? Well, the answer is actually simple. Nunes might be the GOAT but she’s not a draw. At least not in the UFC’s eyes. I know she’s headlined some terrible performing cards in terms of buyrates but she’s also been on other cards that did quite well so I don’t know her true drawing power. I do know that she should be a lot more popular than she is, though. We’re talking about one of the all-time greats. She’s also usually very exciting. Nunes has only gone to a decision in 20% of her fights. Granted, two of those decisions have come in her last three fights but she’s usually good for a stoppage.
I think some of it is also that they want to send a little chin music to Ngannou. He wants more money to fight Jon Jones. He’s no dummy, he knows that fight would make a lot of money for the UFC. He just wants a piece of that action, and it’s hard to blame him. The only part of this Interim title fight I like is that it sets up the next fight for the champ. The winner of Lewis-Gane definitely deserves a title shot.
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