UFC 257 Odds & Picks for Dustin Poirier vs. Conor McGregor: Betting Value on Quick Finish Saturday Night (Jan. 23)

UFC 257 Odds & Picks for Dustin Poirier vs. Conor McGregor: Betting Value on Quick Finish Saturday Night (Jan. 23) article feature image

We’ve seen two UFC Fight Night events over the past week and it has all led up to the first  Pay-Per-View of 2021. Like most of the big events that took places on Fight Island in 2020, UFC 257 should be a good one.

The 11-fight card will feature the return of Conor McGregor in his first action since 2020 in a main event matchup against Dustin Poirier. Poirier is 4-1 over his past five matchups, while McGregor is 3-2 in his past five, but both men will make their Fight Island debut Saturday night.

McGregor, who seems much more subdued compared to previous fights, is a heavy favorite in this matchup against Poirier — he’s a -190 favorite to win by KO/TKO.

Is there value on betting for some fireworks from the Irishman? I’ll break down the angles of Saturday’s main event below.

Tale of the Tape

Poirier McGregor
Record 26-6 (1 NC) 22-4
Avg. Fight Time 10:17 8:20
Height 5’9″ 5’9″
Weight (pounds) 155 lbs. 155 lbs.
Reach (inches) 72″ 74″
Stance Southpaw Southpaw
Date of birth 1/19/89 7/14/88
Sig Strikes Per Min 5.57 5.43
SS Accuracy 50% 49%
SS Absorbed Per Min 4.18 4.40
SS Defense 54% 55%
Take Down Avg 1.46 0.75
TD Acc 35% 62%
TD Def 60% 70%
Submission Avg 1.3 0.0

As we approach fight night, the line on McGregor continues to widen, going from a consensus figure of -240 (implied 70.6%) to -300 (implied 75%) for the first time on Jan. 19, and now further still (data per Sports Insights):

It’s not uncommon to see McGregor become a more substantial favorite after opening lines are released – as the most public fighter on the planet attracts a ton of casual interest.

While some Conor haters are happy to run to the window to bet against him every time – regardless of expectations – plenty more bettors who don’t regularly engage with MMA are hitting McGregor’s knockout prop, win in Round 1 prop, and win inside the distance prop.

Additionally, as a substantial favorite, Conor gets tied into plenty of parlays as well; imagine all of the books that will be sweating McGregor/Chiefs and McGregor/Packers parlays this weekend.

All of that being said, I would have to suspect that the line skews even more heavily towards McGregor by fight time – and if you wait, you might be able to get a better price on Poirier.

Is that something that you want to do, however? My minimum target price on Poirier would be +300 (implied 25%), a three percent edge compared to my projection (28%) – but I would still be hesitant to pull the trigger at that number.

To be very clear — there is no McGregor fanboy in me — I am quite agnostic here; I try to be clear when I have any bias I may be betting on or against.

And while both men have made massive strides as fighters in all areas of their game since their first encounter in 2014 (McGregor closed -280) — and have each held world titles since — I don’t see the rematch playing out in a drastically different manner:

If you’re betting on the Poirier side, you’re banking on Dustin 1) being the larger man; 2) being the better grappler; 3) showing improved durability; 4) having the better gas tank.

Poirier’s stamina is no better than McGregor’s – he was winded in the championship rounds against Dan Hooker in June – and he has continually been clipped early in his fights. While Poirier was able to survive against Hooker, McGregor carries a different level of power – and Dustin doesn’t have the offensive wrestling to tire him out.

McGregor’s defensive grappling (70% takedown defense) has come a long way – surviving for four rounds against Khabib (denied four of seven takedown attempts) and Poirer’s entries (1 of 7 on takedowns vs. Hooker) aren’t in the same stratosphere as the Russian. Even if Poirier does get Conor down, I don’t think he will keep the Irishman down for long.

I suppose Poirier is the better offensive grappler, but Conor is far better defensively.

While Poirier has fought in the 155-pound division longer, McGregor has rebuilt his physique for lightweight (he looks freaking jacked) and carries a two-inch reach advantage. He should be both the longer, and stronger man.

And he’s a master on the feet – the above knockout of Poirier, and many of his other in-cage executions in recent years were planned assaults. Mystic Mac isn’t merely predicting his first-round knockouts – these aren’t just guesses.

McGregor’s 20 finishes (of 22 wins) – all in the first or second round – are largely the product of intense preparation; studying his opponents’ tendencies, and developing a plan of attack:

McGregor is coming into this bout stronger than ever, and Poirer – who just absorbed 155 significant strikes from Dan Hooker, isn’t good enough defensively (54% strike defense) to avoid McGregor’s early wrath (5.43 strikes landed per minute, 49% accuracy).

Poirier vs. McGregor Betting Pick

Overall, I don’t think that this is a good matchup for Poirier, but I also don’t see value on either moneyline or any bets in the winning method market.

I projected McGregor to win inside the distance at odds of -184 (64.8%), which seems to be the most likely outcome, but I prefer the value on the Under 2.5 rounds up to -200. I have this fight ending inside the distance 82.9% of the time, implied odds of -485, and each of McGregor’s finishes has occurred in the first or second round.

That’s when Poirier is typically at his most vulnerable (absorbed 99 significant strikes against Hooker in two rounds), but it also gives us the out in case McGregor falls into a guillotine or breaks his leg kicking Poirier in the head.

The Pick: Under 2.5 (-182)

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