UFC 257: How the Lightweight 'Tournament' Looks After Poirier v McGregor 2

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Poirier v McGregor 2 is arguably the biggest battle in recent lightweight times

We are just a day away from seeing Dustin Poirier take on Conor McGregor for the second time as UFC Fight Island delivers another cracker and one which has more implications on it than any other fight in recent UFC lightweight history.

McGregor disposed of Poirier inside the first two minutes six years ago down at featherweight, and with 'The Diamond' weighing in at 156 as the Irishman hit 155 on the scales, this fight is a totally different one to that of what happened back in 2014.

Here, we take a look at what the outcome of this fight means for the hectic lightweight structure, with every fighter ranked from first to sixth either having a shot at the title already or now having the chance to make a statement.

ICYMI: Read all the odds and our prediction for Poirier v McGregor 2 right here.

Poirier v McGregor Odds

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What happens if McGregor beats Poirier?

McGregor, once again, seems motivated to continue his path to becoming a titleholder and has promised to begin his comeback by taking the lightweight division by storm. A win against Poirier could encourage McGregor to go for three fights in 2021 and it is looking one of these could be against rival, Khabib Nurmagomedov.

'Show me something spectacular,’ relayed UFC president Dana White which came from the mouth of the lightweight champion, as he promises to come back if the challengers prove their worth.

If Nurmagomedov is impressed and wants the rematch, it will take place this year and also be for the UFC lightweight title. Ahead of a potential rematch, McGregor is 5/2 to win, as the champion is 2/7 to win again against his bitter nemesis.

Whether Nurmagomedov returns from retirement or not, McGregor will have another opponent at some stage, as the Irishman looks to continue from where he left off in 2020 and fight three or four times in 2021, and finally get his "season" off and running.

The logical candidate for a fight with McGregor would be a fight with number one contender and fan favourite Justin Gaethje, who lost in his recent title shot at UFC 254. The reason being is the fact this fight between Poirier and McGregor isn't for the title, and a win for 'The Notorious' would put him into title contention, and naturally, the number one ranked fighter, Gaethje, may step up.

Another option for McGregor should he beat 'The Diamond' once more would be the ever-impressive Brazilian Charles Olivera, who is on an eight-fight win streak. These wins include exceptional performances against Tony Ferguson and Kevin Lee, and the 31-year-old has well and truly established himself as a contender, and perhaps even the greatest threat to Nurmagomedov's throne even without facing McGregor.

Oliveira seems to be a better option for the Irishman if he is planning to fight Nurmagomedov in the future, due to Oliveira’s immense ground game and record for most submission wins in UFC history (14). Although, Oliveira is currently 3/1 to become UFC Lightweight Champion before January 2022 and also holds the joint-most finishes in the organisation's history (16), and he does seem like the toughest fight out there right now, bar the champion for anybody.

At the same time, a loss at lightweight for McGregor could result in yet another retirement and a return to boxing to fight Manny Pacquiao, as talks have been going well on that front, according to Irish megastar.

Poirier v McGregor Prediciton

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What Poirier beats McGregor?

A win for Poirier would be may not to be enough to get Nurmagomedov to return and defend his belt, unless it was in spectacular fashion, mainly due to the fact Nurmagomedov beat him in Poirier's one and only shot at the official title back in 2019.

However, it would probably be enough for Poirier to be involved in the fight for a vacant title, and similarly to McGregor, his potential opponents would likely be Gaethje or Oliveira, with the former certainly an intriguing bout, as 'The Diamond' beat Gaethje back in 2018.

After picking up fight performances in all fights except in his loss to the current champ, 'The Highlight' is perhaps the choice that would please most fans, especially considering this previous mouth-watering brawl with Poirier. At the same time, it also allows the number one contender to battle with the man who beat a former champ in McGregor, should Poirier win, so naturally, the fight makes sense on two fronts.

The Louisiana man would likely drop further down the rankings if he loses to McGregor, but at the same time, it's tough to dispute him getting another title shot against either Gaethje, the champ himself, or another vacant option against Oliveira.

If Poirier loses, the 'McGregor effect' will mean he probably has to settle for fights with the likes of the winner in Dan Hooker v Michael Chandler, or perhaps take on a fading Tony Ferguson. Either way, given the stature or the Irishman's status compared to Poirier's, 'The Diamond' simply has to win to stay relevant - a second loss in six years to McGregor could spell the end of his lightweight dream.

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Where do the contenders come into this 'tournament'

The return of a motivated McGregor and potentially Nurmagomedov makes the lightweight division arguably the most exciting weight class in the UFC. There is already a plethora of fighters who would make could matchups for the loser of the main event on Saturday, for example, the winner of the co-main event, of either Hooker or Chandler, a former champion at Bellator and a man who we still don't know if or not he can be a serious contender.

There is also Ferguson, who is chasing a win after consecutive losses for the first time in his career. At the same time, two in-form fighters go head-to-head on the sixth of February as Diego Ferreira, who is on a six-fight win streak since losing to Poirier and recently beat Anthony Pettis, takes on Beneil Dariush, who has won his last five fights and picked up the Performance of the Night in three of his last four. The winner of this would also be in contention to fight a highly-ranked opponent such as Poirier, if he was to lose.

Finally, with more eyes on the division, we could see Max Holloway step back up to lightweight to fight either for the belt or even face McGregor in a rematch or both. Holloway put on one of the all-time great performances against Calvin Kattar last weekend and stated that he would be ready to step in on Saturday if either McGregor or Poirier dropped out.

This has recently sparked interest from McGregor, who confirmed he would be up for a rematch and with the amount of money that a McGregor fight brings, it is hard to see Holloway turning the fight down. There are a number of contenders who will be watching UFC 257 keenly and hopefully, in 2021 we see as many of them take on one another as possible.

However, the most intriguing aspect to come from this event on Saturday is if anybody will impress enough to face off against Nurmagomedov for one final bout.

By Tom Eaton

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