UFC tips: Our trio of best bets for Conor McGregor v Dustin Poirier at UFC 257 today

Our UFC tipster Simon Head weighs up the value punts for this weekend's blockbuster bout

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It’s the first UFC pay-per-view event of 2021, and there’s a blockbuster fight in the main event. But where does the value lie ahead of Conor McGregor’s rematch against Dustin Poirier at UFC 257 tonight? We look at three possible value bets, including one based on Conor McGregor’s own prediction, plus a more conservative selection and an outlandish, long-odds side bet.

Take your pick, and enjoy the action!

Dustin Poirier vs Conor McGregor
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CONOR’S PICK

Let’s make no bones about it, Conor McGregor is planning to make a big statement at UFC 257, and he’s planning to do it by dismantling Poirier even faster than he did the first time around. “Mystic Mac” predicted he would finish the job inside 60 seconds in Saturday night’s main event, which, if he’s successful, would certainly make the sort of impact needed to coax Khabib Nurmagomedov out of retirement and straight into a blockbuster lightweight title rematch.

McGregor has famously called his shot before and delivered on fight night. Most famously, he predicted that he would finish Jose Aldo early when they faced off for the featherweight title at UFC 194, and it took one left hand to get the job done in just 13 seconds.

McGregor v Poirier odds: The Notorious favourite ahead of UFC showdown

Most recently, McGregor demolished Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone in 40 seconds last January to demonstrate that his ability to finish fights remains as potent as ever. But Can he do it again against Poirier? Since his last first-round defeat back in 2016, “The Diamond” has faced a who’s who of elite lightweights, including former champs Anthony Pettis and Eddie Alvarez.

He’s also faced featherweight king Max Holloway and former interim champ Justin Gaethje. Not only did he not get stopped in the first round, he actually beat them all. So, can McGregor make a mockery of Poirier’s resume and finish him inside a round? If you’re firmly in Team McGregor, you may want to take advantage.

CONOR’S PICK: MCGREGOR TO WIN IN ROUND 1

THE SMART PICK

Sure, there’s definitely a chance that McGregor could get the job done early, but that would require a blistering performance from the Irishman and some pretty terrible execution from Poirier. More realistic is a finish a little later in the fight. McGregor possesses the power and strength advantage against Poirier, and even if he can’t catch his man early, I feel pretty confident that he’ll catch him eventually.

Poirier’s fighting style is one that isn’t conducive to avoiding punishment, and he’s been involved in some real octagon wars over the last few years. But, despite sharing the cage with some of the best 155ers on the planet, none of them have the same concussive one-shot punch power that McGregor possesses.

It might take him into the middle rounds of the fight, but I suspect Conor will eventually get his man and finish him with strikes. But, given the way the fight is likely to play out early, backing a KO/TKO finish in Round 3 or 4 looks like a nice way to back the fight outcome, and the price available certainly looks attractive.

THE SMART PICK: MCGREGOR TO WIN BY KO/TKO IN ROUND 3 OR ROUND 4

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THE LONG-SHOT PICK

We scoured the markets for the very best long-shot pick and have come up with a doozy. We know that McGregor is chasing a first-round finish, and we also know that Poirier CAN be caught. But we also know that Poirier is likely to fight a little safe early on – unless he loses the plot and goes full “Berserker Mode” from the start, which would be a suicidal tactic.

It means that the opening exchanges of the fight are likely to be a little cagey, and a Poirier takedown early on is a solid possibility as he looks to take McGregor off his feet early and sap the Irishman’s gas tank. Eventually, however, the pair will start to throw hands, then all things become possible.

If McGregor can either catch up with Poirier, or goad the American into a striking exchange, he’s one big shot away from ending the fight, and, if McGregor is in the sort of form we saw against Cerrone last January, a finish late in the first round seems a realistic possibility.

We’ve already featured McGregor’s prediction earlier in this blog, but while the odds on a first-round win offers a certain degree of value, backing the Dubliner to dust Dustin in the final minute of that opening round, after being taken down early in the fight, comes it at a mouth-watering price. It’s a bit specific, but it’s also very plausible. Surely that’s worth a cheeky side bet?

THE LONG-SHOT PICK: POIRIER TO HAVE A TAKEDOWN IN THE FIRST MINUTE OF ROUND 1 AND MCGREGOR TO WIN IN LAST MINUTE OF ROUND 1

*All prices are bang up to date with our snazzy widget, while in-copy odds are accurate at time of publication but subject to change

Conor McGregor v Dustin Poirier tips

CONOR’S PICK: MCGREGOR TO WIN IN ROUND 1
THE SMART PICK: MCGREGOR TO WIN BY KO/TKO IN ROUND 3 OR ROUND
THE LONG-SHOT PICK: POIRIER TO HAVE A TAKEDOWN IN THE FIRST MINUTE OF ROUND 1 AND MCGREGOR TO WIN IN LAST MINUTE OF ROUND 1

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What do you think?