Conor McGregor Suffers Leg Injury, Dustin Poirier Earns Anticlimactic Trilogy Win at UFC 264

By Tristen Critchfield Jul 10, 2021

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The Dustin Poirier-Conor McGregor trilogy ended in perhaps the most anticlimactic fashion possible.

Poirier captured the rubber match against his Irish rival when McGregor suffered what appeared to be a broken left leg or ankle after a missing a punch and stepping back awkwardly in the final seconds of the opening round of the UFC 264 headliner at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas on Saturday night. With McGregor’s leg clearly contorted at a gruesome angle, the lightweight bout was waved off at the 5:00 mark of Round 1.

“He fractured it on one of the checks at the beginning of the fight, then it broke on a punch, for sure,” Poirier said. “I pointed at him at the beginning of the fight, that's when I checked a kick, that's when it cracked.”

For the most part, Round 1 belonged to Poirier (28-6, 20-5, 1 NC UFC). McGregor began with a different approach from their second meeting, as he attacked “The Diamond” with a variety of kicks, including plenty of strikes to the legs of his opponent.

The tide turned when Poirier found the range on some straight punches before shooting for a takedown against the fence. That prompted McGregor (22-6, 10-4 UFC) to jump guard for an ill-advised guillotine attempt, which he had to give up on in relatively short order. Poirier took advantage of the position, dropping heavy punches and elbows from top position. While McGregor did his best to respond with elbows and upkicks from his back, Poirier was clearly in control and had his adversary reeling on the canvas.

With McGregor bleeding from his ear, Poirier allowed his rival to stand, and during one final exchange at the end of the round, the SBG Ireland representative suffered the unfortunate injury that ended the fight.

Still, there appears to be plenty of unresolved animosity between the two men, as they continued to exchange words after the final verdict was announced.

“There's no-holds-barred with the trash talk, but ‘murder’ is something you don't clown around with,” Poirier said. “There’s no coming back from that. This guy was saying he's gonna murder me and all kinds of stuff. You don't talk like that to people.”

McGregor, who has just one MMA win since 2018, was taken from the Octagon on a stretcher. The former two-division champion did make it clear that he believes there is still unfinished business with Poirier.

“I was boxing the bleeding head off him, kicking the bleeding leg off... this is not over,” McGregor said. “If I have to take this outside for him, it's all outside, I don't give a bollocks.”

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Burns Grounds ‘Wonderboy’, Captures Decision Triumph

Gilbert Burns did what few have been able to do against Stephen Thompson, as he grounded “Wonderboy” repeatedly en route to a unanimous decision triumph in the welterweight co-main event. All three judges scored the contest 29-28 in favor of “Durinho,” most likely ending Thompson’s last chance for another shot at 170-pound gold.

One bout removed from a knockout loss to Kamaru Usman in a welterweight title bout, Burns (20-4, 13-4 UFC) landed takedowns in each round against the ever-puzzling “Wonderboy.” At the end of the night, Burns’ three takedowns were the most by a Thompson opponent since Matt Brown grounded the South Carolinian five times at UFC 145 in April 2012. It wasn’t exactly an effort that brought the crowd out of their seats, though Burns was defiant in victory.

“Let's go; boo, I don't care,” Burns said. “More, I need more. Boo, boo. Two checks, baby.”

Thompson (16-5-1, 11-5-1 UFC) did have his moments in what was a competitive matchup. He kept Burns at his preferred range for much of Round 2, maintaining distance with a variety of kicks and straight punches until the final 30 seconds, when Burns was finally able to ground him. “Wonderboy” nearly authored an even bigger moment in the final stanza, when he landed a solid right that drew a reaction from his foe before dropping Burns to a knee with a spinning back heel kick. Shortly thereafter, Burns scored his final takedown of the fight approximately halfway through the round. He would spend the rest of the fight in top position, ultimately passing to mount and ending the bout with a furious salvo of ground-and-pound.

Sign up for ESPN+ right here, and you can then stream UFC 264 live on your smart TV, computer, phone, tablet or streaming device via the ESPN app.

Tuivasa Wallops Hardy, Scores 67-Second KO

Tai Tuivasa showed how quickly fortunes can change in a heavyweight bout, and Greg Hardy was unfortunate enough to be on the receiving end of the lesson.

Moments after being put on wobbly legs following a pair of Hardy right hands, Tuivasa clocked the former NFL Pro Bowler with a massive left hook. Hardy (7-4, 4-4 1 NC UFC) toppled to the canvas immediately and turned over to cover up as his foe put the finishing touches on his win with follow-up punches 67 seconds into Round 1.

“He wanted to bang with me,” Tuivasa said. “I’m not the right guy to bang with. Pick another bloke.”

After enduring a three-bout skid from December 2018 to October 2019, Tuivasa (12-3, 6-3 UFC) has finished his last three UFC opponents -- Hardy, Harry Hunsucker and Stefan Struve -- inside of a round.

Aldana Drops, Batters Kunitskaya

Irene Aldana maintained her place in the bantamweight pecking order, taking an impressive technical knockout victory over former Invicta Fighting Championships title holder Yana Kunitskaya. The Lobo Gym representative ended Kunitskaya’s night with a furious salvo of ground-and-pound at the 4:35 mark of Round 1.

Aldana (13-6, 6-4 UFC) didn’t take long to impose her will. The Mexican standout tagged Kunitskaya (14-6, 1 NC, 4-3 UFC) with punching combinations early and often, causing her Russian foe’s nose to leak profusely. Eventually, Aldana dropped Kunitskaya with a left hook on the chin. From there, she patiently attacked with punches from above, gradually increasing the intensity of her onslaught until Kunitskaya offered no intelligent means of defense.

The only downside to Aldana’s performance came one day prior on the scales, when she missed weight by 3.5 pounds.

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O’Malley Puts on Clinic Against Moutinho

Faced with a last-minute replacement opponent, Sean O'Malley put on the type of performance one might expect given the circumstances. The only surprise might have been how long it took the “Sugar” Show to deliver a finish.

Picking his shots with precision straight punches, front kicks to the midsection and the occasional high kick, O’Malley cruised to a third-round technical knockout victory over CES MMA veteran Kris Moutinho in a featured bantamweight affair. With Moutinho plodding forward and eating punches, referee Herb Dean decided he had seen enough 4:33 into Round 3.

“Kris is a tough motherf-cker. He took this fight on 11 days notice when a lot of other people in the UFC wouldn’t take it,” O’Malley said.

While Dean’s stoppage drew boos from those in attendance, the outcome was decided long before then. O’Malley (14-1, 6-1 UFC) had Moutinho (9-5, 0-1 UFC) on wobbly legs with a right hook early in Round 1 and put on a clinic for the rest of the round before dropping his foe with a right hand just before the horn.

Moutinho, who stepped in for Louis Smolka, seemed to enjoy the adverse environment. The green-haired bantamweight kept walking forward and smiling as long as the bout lasted, landing low kicks and the occasional right hand even as O’Malley racked up impressive significant striking totals. Moutinho’s face was beginning to wear some serious damage before Dean stepped in to halt the blowout.

“That's a lot of head damage,” O’Malley said. “He might not think that’s a good stoppage, but that might have saved a couple years on his life.”

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