UFC 257, the first pay-per-view of 2021, is on the books. Dustin Poirier scored a sensational knockout win in the second round against Conor McGregor.
In a rematch of their first fight in 2014, Poirier withstood McGregor's early attacks before chopping off the Irishman's right leg and taking him out in the middle of the second round.
In the co-main event, Michael Chandler made a memorable UFC debut by defeating New Zealander Dan Hooker in the first round and then calling out McGregor, Poirier and Khabib Nurmagomedov.
Read all the post-fight analysis and the breakdowns of a brilliant day of fighting below.
Dustin Poirier is a real one
By his own account, Dustin Poirier, who lost to Conor McGregor in 2014, was an angry and slightly insecure man. He was overwhelmed and intimidated when he fell in the first round against a McGregor on his way to a breathtaking round of 16.
Not like this this time.
Poirier has reached a weight class, won some, lost some and fought for a world title (and an intermediate title). Outside the octagon, he matured, had a daughter, and immersed himself headfirst in his charity work.
Poirier's 2021 version is more centered, calmer, and more peaceful with himself.
"I am happy. I am happy in the place where I am and with which I see in the mirror," he said after the biggest victory of his career.
With wins against Jim Miller, Anthony Pettis, Justin Gaethje, Eddie Alvarez, Max Holloway and Hooker, Poirier has legitimate claims to be the most entertaining fighter on the UFC roster.
And while he has had many headlines and title fights on big maps, he never really got the bigger fame his resume and charity work deserve.
This will change now.
With the eyes of the world, Poirier McGregor only watched one of his most resounding defeats and was all great in his post-fight interview.
On and on for Dustin Poirier, a real one in every way.
McGregor killed by inactivity
McGregor admitted immediately after the loss that his long time out of the cage was significant.
He returned against Donald "Cowboy" Cerrone last year, but the fight didn't last a minute. His last real octagon foray was his easy title fight in 2018 against Khabib.
The rust is real and has shown.
McGregor landed well, but was not quite in the zone when Poirier countered well and landed many kicks.
What's next for Poirier and McGregor?
If Khabib really did retire, the UFC 257 main event should have been for the easy title.
It wasn't, but Poirier was to fight for the belt later that year. Against who? Charles Oliveira maybe or Khabib if he decided to keep fighting. Maybe Chandler deserves a shot at the title by now.
As for McGregor. . .
A third fight for Nate Diaz looks pretty good. I would see him fight Poirier a third time too.
We introduce: Michael Chandler
Chandler has just made one of the most impressive UFC debuts in recent history.
The former Bellator lightweight champion didn't just land a massive shot that dropped the hangman before finishing him down with the floor and pounds. The 34-year-old then made a sensational promo.
Check out its goal here.
Chandler makes his UFC debut with Eddie Alvarez, Gaethje and Ben Askren after having distinguished careers in other PhDs.
He was undoubtedly the best, and he's already facing a shot at the 155-pound belt in the not-too-distant future.
Hooker didn't retire, did he?
Hooker could not get rid of anything in the time his fight with Chandler lasted.
Later, when Bruce Buffer read the result, the kiwi could be seen peeling off the tape on his gloves and pulling them off.
According to Daniel Cormier in the comment, Hooker tossed the gloves on the floor and left him in the cage, usually a sign that a fighter is intending to retreat.
I really hope this is not the case.
Herb, we need to talk
When you've been fighting as many high-profile fights as Herb Dean for such a long time, you must make a mistake or two along the way.
Dean offered another one at UFC 257.
It seemed like the veteran referee was about to stop the strawweight bout between Marina Rodriguez and Amanda Ribas when Ribas was caught with the right hand in the second round. Instead he stepped in, but paused and made Rodriguez believe she had won.
The fight went on and Rodriguez won a short time later, but it didn't look good and it's not the first time he's got it wrong.
Julianna Pena calls Amanda Nunes. . . and Nunes strikes back
Pena took an RNC submission win against UFC veteran Sarah McMann in the third round, then promptly called out Nunes, who claimed the longtime bantamweight champion had ducked her.
It didn't take long for Nunes to answer.
What was in the bag?
Yeah, I need to know what was in the bag that a boy from Ottman Azaitar brought him to Fight Island.
If you don't know the backstory, click this link here, but the short version is as follows: Less than a day before his scheduled fight with Matt Frevola, Azaitar was sensationally completely banned from the UFC after he and his The Team gave up passed his safety wristbands on to several other people who were then able to enter the W Hotel's bladder.
According to UFC President Dana White, one of the men given a bracelet "showed up here with a bag, walked into a room, shuffled across four balconies, went to his room, dropped the bag, changed his clothes, and then left . "
And I just need to know what was in the bag.
For the tap, White said he "had no idea" what was in the bag.
Issues with ESPN + after streaming raid
White talked a big game about curbing illegal streamers before UFC 257, but on fight night it was the legal stream that had problems.
When the pay-per-view portion of the card started, MMA fans, fighters, and even other celebrities flooded Twitter, saying ESPN + hadn't given them access to the show.
I wonder if the two were related.
They seem so fixated on illegal streamers that they forgot to take care of their legal ones
– Dave Doyle (@davedoylemma) January 24, 2021
This is wild. 25 minutes into the PPV and still can't access it. Funny times!
– Shaheen Al-Shatti (@shaunalshatti) January 24, 2021