UFC 264 Dustin Poirier vs. Conor McGregor Odds, Pick & Prediction: How to Bet Trilogy Fight (July 10)
Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC. Pictured: UFC fighter Conor McGregor.
- Conor McGregor returns for the octagon to complete his trilogy against Dustin Poirier in the UFC 264 main event.
- Poirier delivered a sensational knockout win over McGregor back in January at UFC 257, and the winner of Saturday night’s matchup is likely next in line for a shot at the UFC Lightweight Championship.
- Sean Zerillo breaks down the matchup and which side he sees betting value on below.
Dustin Poirier vs. Conor McGregor Odds
Is the aura and mystique of Conor McGregor gone for good?
The UFC’s first two-division champion has just one win since capturing the lightweight title in 2016. He has been very inactive, with two significant layoffs (fought in Nov. 2016, Oct. 2018, Jan. 2020) surrounding his highly publicized loss to Khabib Nurmagomedov.
McGregor’s first career knockout loss to Dustin Poirier this past January has caused a significant shift in the betting markets. McGregor closed as a -333 favorite (implied 77%) for that rematch after opening around -175 (implied 63.6%) and taking consistent sharp and public action all the way until fight time.
McGregor opened as a -140 favorite for the third fight, but the odds have flipped in recent weeks, and Poirier now sits as about a 55% favorite, roughly a 30% upgrade in implied odds relative to his chances six months ago.
Is this odds adjustment an overreaction predicated on recency bias, or has the betting market settled at an appropriate level for this matchup?
Below I preview both sides of this highly anticipated main event. For more analysis on the rest of the card, you can check out my projections for the entire slate.
Tale of the Tape
|Record||27-6 (1 NC)||22-5|
|Avg. Fight Time||10:11||8:16|
|Weight (pounds)||156 lbs.||156 lbs.|
|Date of birth||1/19/89||7/14/88|
|Sig Strikes Per Min||5.59||5.32|
|SS Absorbed Per Min||4.17||4.54|
|Take Down Avg||1.47||0.70|
Though this is technically a trilogy fight, you can almost throw the first matchup away entirely. The first bout in 2014 took place at featherweight — a division where McGregor absolutely melted his opponents — and both men have put on muscle mass and changed dramatically as fighters in the six years since.
McGregor’s power has never completely translated to the 155-pound division in the same way it impacted opponents at 145. He retains some anomalous power metrics — including 13 knockdowns in 13 UFC fights, or about one every eight minutes — but he doesn’t seem to have the heavyweight-like one-touch power against lightweights as he did against featherweights.
I want to focus on the last fight because it was so recent, and there are some obvious adjustments that McGregor needs to make to succeed this time around.
If you haven’t watched it in a while, I thought McGregor’s performance was pretty strong until Poirier started to crush his leg in the final minute of the first round.
McGregor landed the more meaningful blows in Round 1. He was first to the punch, and Poirier is there to be hit.
Poirier ate a lot of hard, clean shots in the fight — and looks to have improved durability at 155 — but he’s also had two wars in two years with Dan Hooker (155-153 on significant strikes) and Max Holloway (178-181 on significant strikes) where he’s shown himself to be hittable. That damage can start to accumulate on his chin.
I would expect Conor to try to return to a rangier kick attack game, rather than barreling forward into the pocket to box with Poirier, who turned the tide of the second fight with calf kicks (landed 18 of 21 leg kicks overall). McGregor didn’t check a single one of those kicks, then tried to catch a couple of the attempts after eating a bunch clean, and eventually, his movement slowed dramatically, his leg gave out, and Poirier put him away with crisp, accurate punches.
McGregor used to be a very successful counter-striker, but he’s become more of a pressure fighter in recent years as he started to train for his boxing match with Floyd Mayweather. I would like to see Conor return to his more traditional stance and tactics and use the octagon to create a ton of range against Poirier with his kick game.
McGregor may have a conundrum with regards to his stamina. He typically runs out of steam after the first two rounds of his fights — and an early knockout is likely his best path to victory.
So either he pressures and runs out of steam if he doesn’t find the finish, or he plays the range game and runs out of steam while never giving himself a chance to finish. The former strategy is the obvious choice, even though he’s had more success sitting back in the past.
Poirier figures to have the advantages in stamina and output in the later rounds. He overcame a 2-0 deficit against Hooker last June, winning the significant strike battle 85-56 over the final 15 minutes of the fight. McGregor had to dig deep in his comeback win against Nate Diaz (he won 70-55 on significant strikes in the final two rounds), but that was also five years ago.
McGregor can win a decision here, but it’s probably unlikely. I think he wins the first round at a high clip, the second round should be a tossup, and then Poirier is the likelier minute winner down the stretch.
But one area where I don’t think Poirier will have much success is with his grappling. He secured an early takedown in the second fight, but McGregor worked his way up quickly and looked to have the advantage in the clinch. He denied some single leg attempts from Poirier, reversed positions, and landed some knees and shoulder strikes while controlling the hands.
As a result, I think McGregor can keep this fight where he wants it, at least during the early stages. Once he begins to tire — and if Poirier can chop down those legs again — the takedowns will become a bit easier.
A late Poirier submission is well within the realm of possibilities. But I think McGregor’s defensive grappling is a bit underrated, particularly in the early stages of the fight with a full gas tank.
After the early takedown in the second Poirier fight, he showed some very encouraging signs and put in the best effort that any opponent has given against Khabib.
Conor will obviously adjust to the calf kicks — whether he checks them aggressively, changes his stance, or changes his tactics. The bigger question marks surround his finishing upside and his stamina.
Does his power translate to 155? Can he secure enough minutes to win a decision?
McGregor clearly won about 80% of the minutes in the second fight. Still, his success will almost always be front loaded. Can he sustain that success for long enough to secure three rounds if he can’t finish? Because Poirier seems to go up a level the moment that his opponents plateau.
Poirier vs. McGregor Pick
Just in terms of line value, I think this is an over-adjustment in odds movement from one fight to the next.
If you watched that second fight and I paused it every minute and asked you to give me a live betting line, you would have increasingly made McGregor a larger and larger favorite until the second minute of Round 2. He controlled most of the action and displayed the type of defensive grappling tools that would serve to frustrate Poirer even if he was tiring.
Now, as I mentioned, Conor’s success was always going to be front loaded. But there are also a lot of assumptions being made with regards to his stamina base. Poirier seemingly has the advantage in the later rounds, but that is also an assumption, and we don’t know how wide the gap actually is until we get there.
Regardless of the outcome, I think McGregor wins the first round here a decent chunk of the time, and I suspect there will be live-betting value on Poirier after Round 1. Regardless of your pre-fight position, it’s worth betting Poirier after Round 1 at plus money.
But in terms of a pre-fight bet, I think McGregor is the obvious value side. I projected him as a 72% favorite for a fight where you had to bet him around 75-77% just six months ago. Outside of his failure to check the leg kicks, he looked pretty sharp in the fight — I don’t see a reason to downgrade him by 30% this time around.
I projected McGregor as a 53% favorite for the trilogy fight, and I’m comfortable taking any plus-money price.
If you bet Dustin as a big underdog last time, I could understand you taking another shot here – but I think you’re better off waiting for a live bet.
However, if you didn’t bet Poirier around +200 the last time, I don’t see how you can justify a play at the current price. And if you bet McGregor or parlayed him at -300 last time, how are you not jumping on him at plus money?
This fight is close to a pick’em for a reason. I really don’t know who will win, and honestly, I never expected to bet on Conor. In particular, I’m not a Conor fan and have typically bet against the Irishman because that’s usually where the value lies.
But the public sentiment in this rivalry has seemingly flipped since the last fight – perhaps some bettors who lost money on Conor are looking to make their money back by fading him – and I’m happy to wager against the narrative, recency bias, and market overcorrection.
McGregor to win in under 2.5 Rounds (+265 at PointsBet) probably encapsulates most of his win condition, and I think that’s probably another way to play the fight at plus money; otherwise, I don’t see any value on totals or props for this fight.
The Pick: Conor McGregor (+105)