(Pocket-lint) - It’s a brand new year - and a new decade - and the UFC is kicking off both in style with one of the most hotly anticipated rematches in MMA - ‘The Notorious’ Conor McGregor vs Dustin ‘The Diamond’ Poirier 2.
MMA superstar McGregor returns to the Octagon almost a year to the day after he beat veteran Donald ‘The Cowboy’ Cerrone at UFC 246. He faces a resurgent Poirier who looks to cement his position as the next contender for a shot at Khabib Nurmagomedov’s UFC Lightweight Championship.
Here's why you should be tuning into UFC 257 on EPSN this Saturday.
This is the second time McGregor and Poirier have faced off - and the Diamond wants revenge.
Louisiana native Poirier has only six losses in his professional career, and one of them was to a fresh-faced McGregor back in 2014. There was a lot of hype surrounding McGregor going into that PPV, with the Irishman claiming he’d stop Poirier within minutes.
McGregor proved to be a man of his word, dropping boxing and jiu-jitsu specialist Poirier in just 106 seconds for the dominant TKO win. That ‘W’ set the Irish star on a path to winning and unifying the UFC Featherweight Championship and cemented his status as one of the hottest prospects in combat sports.
Poirier has only lost twice since, and one of those times is to the man who also handed McGregor one of his most significant losses - current UFC Lightweight Champion Khabib Nurmagomedov. A dominant win over McGregor could be enough to avenge that six-year-old loss and potentially coax the champ out of semi-retirement.
McGregor and Poirier have a similar fight record and career - but Poirier has been the more active fighter
The Notorious One and The Diamond have very similar stats and records right across their combat sports careers.
McGregor currently has a record of 22-1 while Poirier has 26-1 (with one no contest). However, McGregor has only fought eight times in MMA since his win over The Diamond, while his opponent has been far more active with 13 fights since that 2014 matchup (ten of which he’s won).
The winner could tempt Nurmagomedov out of semi-retirement - if they pull off a spectacular win
Khabib Nurmagomedov has held onto a true rarity in modern MMA - a spotless undefeated record of 29-0 - but the current UFC Lightweight Champion chose to walk away from the sport following the death of his father and mentor, Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov.
Having done everything he set out to accomplish in professional fighting, The Eagle could well be done with MMA for good. However, UFC president Dana White revealed the Russian-born wrestling specialist could be tempted to step into the Octagon again if someone from the Lightweight division does something truly special at UFC 257.
Poirier is the #1 seed and has already earned The Eagle’s respect following their bout at UFC 242, but Nurmagomedov’s storied history with McGregor - and the Notorious One’s considerable popularity and draw rate on PPV - is impossible to ignore.
Either way, both fighters will need to finish the other decisively in the first few rounds to convince the Russian to rewrap his hands.
UFC 257 also has a co-main event in the form of another Lightweight bout between Dan Hooker (the man Poirier beat last June by unanimous decision) and Bellator superstar Michael Chandler. Chandler proved to be one of Bellator’s most dominant fighters at 155 Ibs, and his debut in UFC could be the ‘X’ factor needed to convince the Champ to return.