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Join 411’s Live UFC 257 Coverage

January 23, 2021 | Posted by Robert Winfree
UFC 257

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MAIN CARD (Pay-per-view, 10 p.m. ET)
#2 Dustin Poirier (156 lbs.) vs. #4 Conor McGregor (155 lbs.)
Michael Chandler (156 lbs.) vs. #6 Dan Hooker (156 lbs.)
#7 Joanne Calderwood (126 lbs.) vs. #6 Jessica Eye (126 lbs.)
Makhmud Muradov (186 lbs.) vs. Andrew Sanchez (186 lbs.)
#10 Amanda Ribas (116 lbs.) vs. #8 Marina Rodriguez (116 lbs.)

PRELIMINARY CARD (ESPN, ESPN+, 8 p.m. ET)
Matt Frevola (155.5 lbs.) vs. Arman Tsarukyan (157 lbs.)*
Antonio Carlos Junior (185 lbs.) vs. #14 Brad Tavares (185.5 lbs.)
#9 Sara McMann (135 lbs.) vs. #7 Julianna Pena (136 lbs.)
Marcin Prachnio (206 lbs.) vs. Khalil Rountree (206 lbs.)

PRELIMINARY CARD (ESPN+, 7 p.m. ET)
Movsar Evloev (150 lbs.) vs. Nik Lentz (150 lbs.)
#15 Amir Albazi (126 lbs.) vs. Zhalgas Zhumagulov (126 lbs.)


Hello there everyone and welcome to 411mania’s LIVE coverage of UFC 257. I’m Robert Winfree, relaying all of the action to you people just as I see it. We’ve made it! The first UFC PPV of 2021 is here, as is the return of superstar Conor McGregor. McGregor has had about a year off, but he’s taking on Dustin Poirier in a rematch tonight. These two fought all the way back in 2014 and down at featherweight, now they’re running it back with the winner almost certainly claiming a shot at the lightweight title in some form. The co-main event is another lightweight fight, former Bellator lightweight champion Michael Chandler will make his UFC debut against Dan Hooker. Hooker had two great fights last year, both finished rather high in the Fight of the Year category, and the winner here is certainly still a player in the lightweight title picture.

As for the rest of the card, you’ve got to look but there are a few decent fights. Rising prospect Makhmud Muradov is back in action, Matt Frevola takes on Arman Tsarukyan after the oddest set of circumstances maybe ever. There’s also a fight way down on the prelims between Movsar Evloev and Nik Lentz that will prove an interesting challenge for the rising prospect that is Evloev. But it’s all kind of few and far between, mostly we’re hoping for great action more than looking at fights that really catch your attention on paper.

UFC 257 comes to the world from Etihad Arena in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. We’re mostly under the new rules, including the use of instant replay whenever the ref or replay official wants and the fight can be restarted after replay if that’s applicable. The big old rule still hanging around is the downed fighter rule, you still need only one hand on the mat to be downed. We’re also still in the 30 foot cage instead of the 25 footer that’s installed at the APEX facility. On commentary we have John Anik, Daniel Cormier, and Paul Felder while Brett Okamoto does the sideline gimmick.

Amir Albazi scored a win in his UFC debut, and given the lack of bodies at flyweight that was enough to get a top fifteen rank for this fight. Albazi is trying to extend his streak and start making a run through the flyweight ranks. Zhalgas Zhumagulov lost a four fight winning streak when he dropped his UFC debut last year, he’s trying to bounce back here and get that critical first UFC win. The odds on this one closed at a -110 pick ’em.

Flyweight Bout: #15 Amir Albazi (13-1, 126 lbs.) vs. Zhalgas Zhumagulov (13-4, 126 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Albazi is an inch taller and has an inch and a half of reach advantage. Zhumagulov coming forward early, Albazi lands a calf kick. Some feinting from both men now, and probing with the jab. Bit of a left hook from Zhumagulov. Another left hook from Zhumagulov lands. Zhumagulov keeps touching the body when they’re in boxing range, he’s setting up his head shots that way rather nicely. Albazi has landed a few calf kicks, both men setting stuff up for later. Pressure from Albazi, he misses a right and eats a left hook. Glancing right from Zhumagulov, Albazi lands another calf kick. Left to the body from Zhumagulov. Zhumagulov with a calf kick now. Double leg attempt from Albazi, he gets it along the fence and lands in side control. Zhumagulov wall walks almost immediately and they get chest to chest and then slips free. Albazi lands a jab. Leg kick form Zhumagulov and he avoids a counter. Albazi lands a right. Spinning back fist from Zhumagulov lands but Albazi just eats it. Right from Zhumagulov in close seems to have stunned Albazi a bit. Zhumagulov with a double leg into the guard of Albazi. Both men land blows on the mat to close out the round.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Zhumagulov

ROUND TWO: Jab from Zhumagulov to get the round going. Alazi has a leg kick checked but he’s pushing forward now. Leg kick from Albazi, and another one that hurts the leg of Zhumagulov. Albazi lands a right, he’s fighting well so far this round. Zhumagulov lands a left. Bit of a left to the body from Zhumagulov, leg kick from Albazi. Albazi lands a jab, he really seems to have found his rhythm and is fighting well. Left from Zhumagulov who has been doing some stance switching. Albazi lands another calf kick, Zhumagulov needs to address that. Bit of a knee to the body from Albazi. Zhumagulov lands a left hook. Albazi avoids a takedown attempt and they split jabs. Zhumagulov with an uppercut, Albazi returns it and avoids a takedown attempt then spins to the ride. Knee from Albazi as they stand and that will close out the round.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Albazi, 19-19 overall

ROUND THREE: Both men come out jabbing. Albazi trying to exert forward pressure, he avoids some punches. Zhumagulov blocks a double leg but eats some punches from Albazi. Albazi with a jumping knee, then gets a single leg out of a clinch and lands in the guard of Zhumagulov. Elbows from Albazi. Albazi moves to half guard, then knee slices to side control. Zhumagulov is moving to his seat, Albazi gets one hook in and moves towards the back. Zhumagulov moves to the fence but gives up his back. Albazi is after the choke but can’t lock it up yet. Some nice back riding from Albazi. Zhumagulov breaks the hooks and stands the looks to unload on the reset. Left to the body from Zhumagulov then a body kick. Zhumagulov is going for the win if nothing else. Albazi lands a right but Zhumagulov is relentless. Albazi will just run out the clock.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Albazi, 29-28 Albazi overall

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Amir Albazi via unanimous decision (29-28 x3)

Decent little fight but nothing too memorable. Albazi does get an interview, he says he’s feeling great but prefers to finish fights and wants one next time. He dedicates the win to the victims of the suicide bombers in Iraq last week, then puts over his coaches.

Movsar Evloev is undefeated including three wins in the UFC, he’s taking his first real step up in competition here against a battle tested UFC veteran but a win could set him on a path for big things in 2021. Nik Lentz has gone 2-3 in his last five fights and is on a two fight losing streak, he’s trying to halt the building hype around Evloev and possibly gain a bit of job security as a three fight skid could see him cut. At a prohibitive -700 Evloev is the biggest favorite on the entire card against a +500 comeback for Lentz.

Catchweight Bout: Movsar Evloev (13-0, 150 lbs.) vs. Nik Lentz (30-11-2 1 NC, 150 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Lentz is an inch taller while Evloev has four and a half inches of reach over Lentz. Leg kick from Lentz to get us going. Evloev is pressuring forward, both men showing the jab early. Bit of a right uppercut from Lentz, Lentz is switching his stance pretty frequently. They clinch up and hit the fence. Trip from Lentz but Evloev reverses and gets on top in full guard. That was a sweet reversal. Lentz is after a guillotine, that’s getting pretty tight and he rolls into mount with it. Evloev remains calm and hip escapes then bases up. Lentz is holding the front headlock, trying to get a snap down but Evloev is staying upright. Sacrifice roll from Evloev and he gets back on top. Evloev goes to body shots to set up his pass, and gets to half guard. Lentz after the guillotine again, Evloev is staying calm and doesn’t seem too bothered yet. Evloev gets free of that attempt and moves to half guard. More body shots from Evloev, Lentz is trying to elevate him but he’s eating punches now. Lentz does get full guard back but he takes a series of punches. Hard right from Evloev and he moves to side control. A series of rights from Evloev, they fight up and Evloev lands again as the round ends.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Evloev

ROUND TWO: Evloev blocks a head kick. Bit of a leg kick from Lentz. Evloev lands a right, Lentz returns it. Some jabs go back and forth. Right from Evloev. Evloev lands a series of rights, then a right uppercut. Jab from Evloev, Lentz with a leg kick. That jab from Evloev is working now, and Lentz gets a clinch and jumps for a guillotine but both men wind up on their knees. Evloev spins free and Lentz jumps for another guillotine. Again Evloev spins free and lands a right and they clinch again. Both men with knees to the body in the clinch and they break. Evloev lands a jab. Lentz lands a right to the body. Evloev lands an uppercut. Lentz forces a clinch, but Evloev lands a right and they break. More punches from Evloev, they clinch and he defends a takedown attempt. They clinch and Lentz again jumps for the guillotine, Evloev pulls his head free and lands punches in the clinch. A combination from Evloev, he’s finding hockey style uppercuts when they get close. Lentz lands a couple of leg kicks then forces a clinch on the fence where the round ends.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Evloev, 20-18 Evloev overall

ROUND THREE: They touch gloves for the last round. Evloev coming forward, lands a left hook. Lentz lands a leg kick. More jabs from Evloev. Right from Evloev. Lentz lands a couple of jabs. They trade short uppercuts in close. Evloev lands another right and they split jabs. Lentz lands a body kick. Right from Evloev. I’m a little surprised Evloev hasn’t tried another takedown, some of his best work came from top position. Evolev lands a right, he’s sticking and moving. Lentz’s face is busted up, he tries a double leg but Evloev sprawls away and lands some short punches and they then trade on the feet as they get up. Both men with inside leg kicks. Evloev catches a kick and lands a right. Another right from Evloev. Lentz blocks a high kick. Lentz looks fatigued and beaten up, Evloev is sniping at him. Combination from Evloev. Evloev lands a front kick to the face. Counter left hook from Evloev then some rights as Lentz tries to angle. Evloev keeps teeing off as the clock winds down.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Evloev, maybe 10-8 numerically, 30-27 Evloev overall

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Movsar Evloev via split decision (28-29, 29-28 x2)

OK, that makes 0 sense. What in the world was that judge watching?! Mic time for Evloev he talks about the truncated preparation time and doesn’t feel this was a great performance because of it. He’s hungry and angry, then tells Dana to give him a top fifteen guy next.

Khalil Rountree Jr. has traded losses while going 2-2 in his last four fights, he’s coming off of a loss though and is trying to avoid his second UFC losing streak. Marcin Prachnio has gone 0-3 in the UFC with all of those being first round (T)KO losses, he’s quite likely fighting for his job here. To the shock of no one Rountree is the favorite at -360 while a Prachnio win would payout at +280.

Light Heavyweight Bout: Marcin Prachnio (13-5, 206 lbs.) vs. Khalil Rountree (8-4 1 NC, 206 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Prachnio is two inches taller while Rountree has two and a half inches of reach advantage. Southpaw for Rountree. Some low side kicks from both men to start. Prachnio counters a leg kick with punches. Rountree blocks a high kick, then both men miss punches. Right from Prachnio. Prachnio is working the side kick to the chest/body now. Rountree misses a left, Prachnio lands a leg kick. Prachnio checks an inside leg kick, that hurt me just listening to it. Body kick from Prachnio. They both swing in close but neither lands. Rountree lands a body kick, Prachnio replies with a leg kick. Rountree lands a left. They both miss punches, but Prachnio is the one baiting larger swings from Rountree. Body kick from Rountree. Prachnio lands a front kick to the body. Again that side kick from Prachnio, it’s frustrating Rountree and stopping him from getting into the range he wants. Inside leg kick from Prachnio. Prachnio lands a right. Rountree eats a right, but lands a body kick. Right to the body from Prachnio. They just stare away the final seconds.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Prachnio

ROUND TWO: Prachnio working the lead leg again, Rountree just kind of crashes distance to try and dissuade him. They both miss power hand punches. Rountree lands a body kick. Some lead hand work from both men. Prachnio lands a body kick. Stiff left from Rountree. Prachnio is starting to swing a little wild with his punches. Both men swing hooks, both land. Rountree is finding his left more this round. Bit of a head kick from Prachnio. Short left hook from Rountree as he fights off a takedown attempt. Prachnio lands a right to the body, Rountree lands another body kick. More side kicks from Prachnio, and he lands a bit of a right. Both men are fatiguing. Prachnio coming forward, lands an inside leg kick. Rountree lands a right hook that drops Prachnio to his knees. Prachnio back up, takes a head kick but stays upright. Body kick from Prachnio, then an inside leg kick. Body kick from Rountree is the last blow of the round.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Rountree, 19-19 overall

ROUND THREE: Prachnio with another side kick, bit of a counter left from Rountree. Rountree lands a left, then hits a front kick to the body. Prachnio lands a body kick. Rountree avoids a double leg attempt and stays at distance. Prachnio lands a right. Another bit of a right from Prachnio. Prachnio slips a left and lands a right then they sloppily exchange. Rountree blocks another takedown attempt, but he’s getting tired and Prachnio is pushing him. Right from Prachnio, then one to the body. They trade power hand punches. Some kicks from Prachnio, he’s out working Rountree at this point. Again Prachnio with a right up stairs then one to the body. Prachnio swings to the head and body again. Another right to the body from Prachnio. Rountree with a bit of a left. They kind of feint at each other to close the round.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Prachnio, 29-28 Prachnio overall

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Marcin Prachnio via unanimous decision (29-28 x3)

Sloppy, more regional level MMA than UFC caliber. No interview for Prachnio.

Julianna Pena had some hype at one point about 5 years ago but injury and general inactivity have largely seen that die out. Pena has gone just 1-2 since 2017 and is coming off of a loss to Germaine de Randamie when de Randamie choked her out with a guillotine, if Pena wants to make a serious run in the sport she can’t afford a losing streak here. Sara McMann just broke a two fight losing streak when she returned from about a two year layoff in January of last year. Another year or so off and she’s back now trying for her first winning streak since 2017 and hoping to salvage her time in the UFC. Somewhat surprising McMann is the favorite at -125 to a +105 comeback on Pena.

Women’s Bantamweight Bout: #9 Sara McMann (12-5, 135 lbs.) vs. #7 Julianna Pena (9-4, 136 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: These two are the same height while Pena has three inches of reach advantage, plus Pena is nine years younger. Both women probing with the lead hand to begin. Leg kick from McMann. A couple of body shots from McMann land. Both women land rights. Another exchange of rights, neither woman is moving their head defensively. Pena lands a jab, McMann lands a blitz attack. McMann lands another right, she gets a single leg and has Pena down. Pena is trying to hip escape, she gets to her knees and looks to regain her feet. McMann puts one hook in. McMann pulls Pena onto the mat and off of her knees, but still only has one hook in. Pena explodes up and they fight in the clinch. Knees to the body from McMann, Pena returns them. Single leg from McMann again, she’s got Pena down in side control. Pena gets half guard, then full guard. McMann lands a hard elbow. They trade some blows on the mat as the round ends.

SCORECARD: 10-9 McMann

ROUND TWO: Circling again as we start. McMann lands a leg kick, Pena with a bit of a counter right. They trade rights again. single leg from McMann, Pena grabs a guillotine as they’re going down. Full guard for Pena on the attempt, McMann passes to the safe side releases the choke. Pena gets full guard back again and lands some elbows from her back while she’s trying to set up a triangle attack. McMann blocks that attempt. Elbow from McMann lands. Pena keeps trying to work her guard high and use her knees to help defend. More elbows from McMann. Some hammer fists from Pena but she’s not got a whole lot on that. Pena hip escapes, gets to her knees but again McMann jumps to her back and gets one hook in. McMann settles for the ride, tries a bulldog choke but Pena slips free and grabs a front headlock as they stand. They wind up in the clinch, knees from McMann again. Pena with a knee to the body. Another knee from Pena, McMann returns it. More knees go back and forth then elbows as they break. Both women miss punches as the round ends.

SCORECARD: 10-10 DRAW, 20-19 McMann overall

ROUND THREE: Pena pressing forward, avoids a right hand. They trade punches again. Pena lands a right, they clinch up again. Both women with knees to the body. Throw from Pena and she’s on top in side control. Some hammer fists from Pena, McMann to her knees trying to get up but she’s stuck down on the mat as Pena looks for her back. Pena gets one hook in, then the second. Full body triangle for Pena and she’s landing some punches looking for the choke. The choke is in, and McMann tries to hand fight but has to tap.

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Julianna Pena via Submission, rear naked choke, at 3:39 of Round 3

The Final Round Finish Club thanks Mrs. Pena for her work this evening. Mic time for Pena, she feels great and says this was kind of how she thought the fight would go. She wants a fight with Amanda Nunes next.

Pena sneaks the right arm deep around the neck of McMann to set up this finish. Most importantly her arm is so far around that she’s grabbing her own shoulder or the shoulder of McMann. That means even as McMann is hand fighting she still has enough space to grab and squeeze the choke.

Brad Tavares has been with the UFC for over ten years at this point but is currently on a two fight losing streak and has been out of action since November of 2019. Tavares is hoping to halt that skid and prove he’s still a valuable addition to the roster. Antonio Carlos Junior has a pretty long layoff as well, his dating to September of 2019 and he’s likewise on a two fight losing streak. Junior doesn’t quite have the miles on him that Tavares does but if he’s going to make a serious run in the UFC he needs to get back on the winning side of things badly. Junior closed a -120 favorite to +100 on Tavares..

Middleweight Bout: Antonio Carlos Junior (10-4 1 NC, 185 lbs.) vs. #14 Brad Tavares (17-6, 185.5 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Junior is an inch taller but has five inches of reach advantage. They touch gloves to get us going. Both men land jabs, then a bit of a leg kick from Tavares. Tavares keeps showing the calf kick, Junior with a couple of punches. Calf kick from Tavares. Junior strikes, then tries a single leg along the fence. Tavares is trying to defend, Junior bails on it and they separate. Both men with rights, Junior lands a right and shoots a double leg but Tavares defends until they hit the fence. Junior is trying for a high crotch but this is kind of stalling out. Tavares spins free and they reset. Leg kick from Junior. Tavares with a calf kick. They trade, a combination from Junior then a body kick. Another takedown attempt from Junior, they hit the fence and stall out. Junior with some knees to the thigh but not much is going on. A knee from Junior hits the groin of Tavares and we’ve got time out. That went directly into the cup, Tavares takes about 50 seconds and we’re back to fighting. Calf kick from Tavares. Junior blocks a body kick, and the round ends.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Junior but could go either way

ROUND TWO: Tavares looking at the leg kick again. Both men miss punches, then Tavares lands a left hook. Inside leg kick from Tavares. Right from Tavares lands, Junior gets a takedown though. Tavares hits a technical get up but Junior stays on his legs as they hit the fence. Junior isn’t doing a whole lot in the clinch, Tavares is able to spin free. Some jabs go back and forth, then Tavares lands another right. Junior lands a calf kick of his own. More jabs are traded, but Tavares is getting the better of those. Bit of a right from Tavares. Junior jabs, then tries a single leg but can’t finish it and eats an elbow as Tavares defends. Tavares gets close and lands a right that wobbles Junior. Junior tries a single leg, Tavares defends then tries a knee but his foot hits Junior in the groin so we’ve got time again. Junior takes 1:15 to recover but he can continue. Jabs from Tavares on the restart. Tavares with a right. Both men jab again, then Tavares lands a body kick and the round ends.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Tavares, 19-19 overall

ROUND THREE: Tavares working the leg kicks again and pushing Junior back. Leg kicks are traded. Some jabs from Junior then a leg kick. Jabs go back and forth, Junior after a double leg but they hit the fence and things stall out again. Tavares pulls Junior up into a clinch. They jockey for position, Junior tries a trip but can’t complete it. The ref breaks them as they’ve stalled out. Junior lands a right. Tavares lands another inside leg kick. Knee from Tavares after he avoided a poor takedown attempt. Tavares lands a counter right. Junior gets another clinch off of a takedown attempt and they hit the fence. The clock runs down there.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Tavares, 29-28 Tavares overall

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Brad Tavares via unanimous decision (29-28, 30-27 x2)

Painfully dull fight, also this reminded me that I certainly did NOT miss fans. No interview for Tavares.

Matt Frevola is on a two fight winning streak, but he’s been out of action over a year. He’s hoping to get 2021 off to a better start and start proving himself a prospect of note in the division. Arman Tsarukyan missed weight here but he’s also on a two fight winning streak and trying to solidify himself as someone to pay attention to going forward at lightweight. Tsarukyan is your heavy favorite at -700 to a +500 comeback on Frevola.

Lightweight Bout: Matt Frevola (8-1-1, 155.5 lbs.) vs. Arman Tsarukyan (15-2, 157 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Frevola is two inches taller while Tsarukyan has an inch and a half of reach over Frevola. They touch gloves to get us going. Frevola showing kicks early as they try to figure things out. A lot of forward pressure from Frevola, Tsarukyan times a double leg and gets Frevola down. Frevola scoots to the fence, wall walks but Tsarukyan hits a mat return. Switch from Frevola, he’s up but still clinched and Tsarukyan gets a single leg. Punches from Tsarukyan as Frevola wall walks. Tsarukyan lands a knee to the body. Whizzer kick from Tsarukyan but Frevola is able to separate on the scramble. They both miss punches. Tsarukyan lands a jab. Frevola misses a spinning back fist. Left from Tsarukyan but Frevola is moving well. Tsarukyan tries a double leg, Frevola counters with a lateral drop and they scramble back up to the fence. Knees to the body from Tsarukyan, Frevola returns them then gets free. Tsarukyan already looks a little tired, not a good sign. Frevola lands a leg kick. Jabs from Tsarukyan and he avoids a counter right. Tsarukyan lands a right, and a left uppercut but Frevola keeps coming forward. Another right from Tsarukyan lands. Jabs then a follow up right from Tsarukyan, Frevola just eats them. Frevola lands a winging right hand. Another right from Frevola, then a knee to the body and he tries a double leg, things stall out along the fence as the round ends.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Tsarukyan

ROUND TWO: Tsarukyan lands a right to start the round. Double leg from Tsarukyan, they hit the fence and Frevola is looking to hit a switch and wall walk. Frevola hits the switch, is taken back down but he’s not conceding the position yet. Full guard now for Frevola. Tsarukyan lands an elbow. Tsarukyan stands up, but can’t pass the guard so he just lands some punches. Frevola rolls through, Tsarukyan gets his back standing and lands a knee to the body. Another knee to the body from Tsarukyan and Frevola gets dragged back down into half guard. Frevola working to wall walk again, he’s back up and lands a right but Tsarukyan sweeps his leg and is on top in guard again. Tsarukyan with more punches, he passes to side control and is after a d’arce but Frevola defends. Elbow from Tsarukyan. Frevola gets half guard. Tsarukyan with body shots. Tsarukyan is trying to set up an arm triangle choke, Frevola defends but gives up his back. Frevola tries to scramble, Tsarukyan rides him and lands punches as the round ends.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Tsarukyan, 20-18 Tsarukyan overall

ROUND THREE: Frevola misses a jumping knee. Bit of a combination from Frevola. Tsarukyan with a double leg, but Frevola escapes quickly and gets distance. Jab from Tsarukyan. Tsarukyan lands a left hook. Tsarukyan with a spinning back kick to the body. Frevola misses some kicks, he seems to be running out of ideas in there. They split a few jabs. Tsarukyan grabs a single leg, switches to a double leg and gets it. Frevola is chasing a guillotine but his hands aren’t connected and Tsarukyan gets his head free. Some punches from Tsarukyan, Frevola tries to roll backwards and they scramble back up. Right then a left from Tsarukyan. Tsarukyan lands a jab. Tsarukyan with a single leg into a high crotch lift and he’s got Frevola down again. Frevola gives up his back, but tries to turn into Tsarukyan and gets out scrambled by Tsarukyan into the ride position. Tsarukyan lets Frevola stand, then takes him back down into side control. North-south now, then side control and Tsarukyan lands elbows. 3/4 mount for Tsarukyan, Frevola to his knees but Tsarukyan is on his back. Frevola gets half guard, Tsarukyan lands punches as the round ends.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Tsarukyan, 30-27 Tsarukyan overall

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Arman Tsarukyan via unanimous decision (30-26, 30-27 x2)

Impressive from Tsarukyan given all the considerations. No interview for him as we’re running a bit long and the PPV needs to get going.

Marina Rodriguez just suffered her first professional loss in her last fight, she’s trying to bounce back and avoid her first ever losing streak. Amanda Ribas has a five fight winning streak going that includes being 4-0 in the UFC, she’s trying to take another step forward and establish herself in the title orbit with another win here. Ribas is the favorite at -335 to +250 for Rodriguez.

Strawweight Bout: #10 Amanda Ribas (10-1, 116 lbs.) vs. #8 Marina Rodriguez (12-1-2, 116 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Rodriguez is three inches taller but Ribas has an inch of reach over her. They touch gloves to get us going. Ribas is the one stalking forward early. Rodriguez lands a right. Oh FML, the “woo’s” are here. I don’t want to live on this planet anymore. Bit of a right from Ribas. Rodriguez lands another right. Ribas can’t cut Rodriguez off and is getting hit with rights and angled on. Ribas gets a body lock, hits a takedown into the guard of Rodriguez but Rodriguez might have an angle to take the back. No, I don’t think Rodriguez has that angle anymore. Ribas gets into the full guard and starts posturing up to try and pass. Can opener for Ribas trying to force open the guard, she lands an elbow. Rodriguez lands an elbow from her back. A few punches from Ribas but she’s struggling to pass the guard. Another can opener from Ribas, she uses it to land elbows and body shots. Rodriguez looks to work her guard higher. Some more punches from Ribas. Rodriguez is finally starting to shrimp and work her guard higher, but she’ll end the round on her back.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Ribas

ROUND TWO: Ribas moving forward again, but again she’s not really cutting the cage off. Rodriguez lands a right and then a knee to the body. Right from Rodriguez stuns Ribas, she’s down and there’s confusion around the ref maybe stopping it but he didn’t. Elbow and a right from Rodriguez, Ribas is still upright but that’s enough to get the stoppage.

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Marina Rodriguez via TKO, punches and elbow, at :54 of Round 2

Big win for Rodriguez there, Ribas was being set up as a future player (she still might be) and she got a solid finish. Mic time for Rodriguez, she puts over the grappling of Ribas but was able to survive and implement her game plan. She talks us through the finish, noting she thought it was over but got back to it when she realized the refs ruling. Asked who she’d like next, she thinks she’s a top 5 fighter now and wants anyone around that spot. To close she switches to English to say “Now you know who I am”.

Ribas was coming forward relentlessly and that made her predictable. Rodriguez easily takes a slight angle and slams home a hard right hand that badly damages Ribas. I’ll leave the refs non-stoppage up to you to decide, but credit to Rodriguez for not letting that moment throw her and getting right back to work.

Andrew Sanchez has gone 3-1 in his last four fights, he’s also coming off of his first finish in the UFC and is trying to build on that with another UFC winning streak. Makhmud Muradov has an undefeated streak dating back to 2017 going, including two wins in the UFC. Muradov is hoping to take a step up in class this time and start looking towards the top of the division for his next opponent. Muradov is your favorite at -160 to +130 on Sanchez.

Middleweight Bout: Makhmud Muradov (24-6, 186 lbs.) vs. Andrew Sanchez (12-5, 186 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Muradov is an inch taller and has an inch and a half of reach advantage. They touch gloves to get us going. Feinting from both men to start. Muradov catches a kick but misses his counters. Calf kick from Muradov. Jab to the body from Muradov. Sanchez reaches for a single leg, Muradov defends and hits a hard calf kick. Right from Muradov lands. Bit of a jab from Sanchez. Another calf kick from Muradov. Combination from Muradov and he gets a clinch on the fence. A few punches from Muradov as they separate. Sanchez lands a bit of a right to the body. Muradov with another calf kick. Sanchez lands a right. Muradov back to the calf, those are adding up. Right to the body from Muradov. Sanchez lands a right to counter a leg kick. Muradov misses an overhand, he just needs to straight that up a little. Sanchez counters a jumping knee with a couple of punches. Muradov punches into a clinch, misses a punch as they break though. A leg kick from Muradov ends the round.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Muradov

ROUND TWO: They touch gloves for the round. Sanchez coming forward again, they both miss lefts. They punch into a clinch, then break with a knee from Muradov. Calf kick from Muradov, Sanchez with a glancing right. Muradov takes a shot the groin so we’ve got time out for him. About 40 seconds later Muradov can continue and we’re back to fighting. Sanchez is still pressuring forward, they both miss rights and he tries a double leg on the fence. Muradov with elbows and breaks the double leg but winds up fighting in the clinch. Muradov slips free. Sanchez avoids a calf kick and lands a jab. Bit of a right from Muradov. They trade some jabs. Muradov with a right uppercut. Right from Muradov, Sanchez lands a right of his own. A bit of southpaw for Muradov, they trade power hand punches and he goes back to orthodox. Left hook then a right from Muradov. Another right from Muradov. Bit of a high kick from Muradov. Sanchez with a right. Some body shots from Muradov as he moves around. A right from Muradov stuns Sanchez, then another just as the round ends.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Muradov, 20-18 Muradov overall

ROUND THREE: There’s a cut on the bridge of Sanchez’s nose after those last couple of rights. They touch gloves for the last round. Bit of a high kick from Sanchez. Right from Muradov and an uppercut, Sanchez is stunned from that. Muradov with a bit of a head kick. Right from Muradov, mostly blocked but he’s throwing heat. More clubbing blows from Muradov, he’s just trying to bludgeon through the guard. Muradov lands a right to the body. Sanchez with a bit of a right. Another right from Sanchez, but Muradov counters with a better one and Sanchez is wobbled. Muradov unloads on Sanchez along the fence and gets the standing TKO.

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Makhumd Muradov via TKO, punches, at 2:59 of Round 3

The Final Round Finish Club thanks Mr. Muradov for his work this evening. Mic time for Muradov, he notes he’s had three short notice fights and would like a full camp. He says representing Uzbekistan is a big bit of motivation for him, and dedicates the win to his daughter. Asked who he’d like next he says anyone even on short notice. He closes with some Russian I think that goes unstranslated.

Sanchez had been half shoulder rolling/trying to guard these overhands from Muradov. But that only has to lapse once, and it does here. this basically set up the finish as Muradov hit a flying knee then got the stoppage on the fence.

Jessica Eye has gone 1-2 in her last three fights, she missed weight for her previous two fights but made it here at least. Eye is trying to avoid another losing streak and possibly take a step back towards another shot at the title with a win. Joanne Calderwood has gone 3-2 since returning to flyweight, but she lost a title shot when she was submitted in her last fight and if she wants to get back into the title picture she can ill afford a losing streak at this juncture. Calderwood is a slight -115 favorite to -105 for Eye.

Women’s Flyweight Bout: #7 Joanne Calderwood (14-5, 126 lbs.) vs. #6 Jessica Eye (15-8 1 NC, 126 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: These two are the same height while Eye has half an inch of reach over Calderwood. They come out and start trading early, Calderwood lands a body shot. They keep tying up in the clinch and working there. Calderwood lands a body kick, and they clinch again. Eye shoves things into the fence. They trade and break. Calderwood lands a right. Another clinch, more knees from Calderwood as they hit the fence again. They break without incident. More rights, then an elbow from Calderwood and a couple of leg kicks. Rights from Eye, and another clinch to the fence. Knees are traded and they break. More calf kicks from Calderwood. Another clinch, more knees and dirty boxing. They break on an elbow from Calderwood. Calderwood lands a right, they clinch and hit the fence again. Eye is doing very little. Knees from Calderwood, Eye with some body shots. Calderwood spins off the fence and gets free. Another body kick from Calderwood, Eye with some punches to the body. Calderwood with some punches then a calf kick. Knee from Eye in close. Calderwood lands another leg kick. They clinch, a couple of body shots from Calderwood and they break. Eye lands a right, then takes a body kick. Calderwood lands another body kick. A right elbow from Calderwood ends the round.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Calderwood

ROUND TWO: Back to kicks from Calderwood. Eye forces a clinch but eats knees to the body before separating. Calderwood lands a straight right. Right and left hook land for Calderwood. Calderwood with a front kick to the face. Eye has had enough of that, wants a clinch but can’t maintain it and her face is swelling up now. Jabs from Calderwood, she gets a takedown but decides she doesn’t want it and stands again. They split some jabs, then punch each other up in the clinch before breaking. Calderwood with some front kicks to the body. Another calf kick from Calderwood. Eye lands a right to the body then a left hook. Another clinch, more body knees from Calderwood then one to the head as they break. More body kicks from Calderwood. Calderwood lands a right. At distance Eye doesn’t have much of anything but in the clinch she’s trying to dirty this up. Some jabs from Calderwood, trying to maintain distance. Calderwood lands another body kick. Spinning back kick to the body from Calderwood. Left hook and another front kick to the body from Calderwood. Eye jabs the body. They clinch, trade knees then separate. Eye ducks under a spinning elbow and gets a takedown. Calderwood scoots to the fence and looks to wall walk. Both women with small punches as the round ends.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Calderwood, 20-18 Calderwood overall

ROUND THREE: Calderwood back to kick the body as the round starts. Eye forces a clinch and they hit the fence. Knees are traded but there’s not a whole lot happening. The ref should probably separate these two. Calderwood lands another knee. The ref finally breaks them up. Calderwood with a leg kick then a body kick. Eye forces another clinch, eats knees and they break. Calderwood lands a right. Eye with a clinch, lands a right but takes a leg kick. Calderwood forces the clinch this time, and has a head kick blocked as they break. Right from Calderwood. Eye after a double leg, Calderwood sprawls then separates. Bit of an uppercut from Calderwood then a front kick to the body. Another clinch, Calderwood with knees to the body then a body kick on the break. Eye avoids a spinning elbow and they clinch again. More knees from Calderwood. Eye lands a knee. A knee and rights from Calderwood has cut Eye over the left eye. An elbow from Calderwood, Eye drops for a takedown and the clock runs out.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Calderwood, 30-27 Calderwood overall

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Joanne Calderwood via unanimous decision (29-28, 30-27 x2)

Sloppy as heck but a lot of action for the most part. Mic time for Calderwood, she wanted this version of Eye so she could beat the best version of her. She jokes that she likes making her fights harder on herself, it’s the Scottish way. Asked if she thinks she should get another shot at the belt, she hopes so.

Dan Hooker has lost just twice since moving back to lightweight in the UFC, one of those being his most recent fight when he lost a hard fought decision in one of the better fights of 2020 with Dustin Poirier. Hooker is trying to bounce back here and prove he’s still a viable player at the top of the loaded lightweight division. Michael Chandler is a former three time Bellator lightweight champion and is making his UFC debut here, he could make an immediate impact by taking out a top ten opponent in the form of Hooker. The odds are with Hooker at -140 while Chandler’s comeback sits at +110.

Lightweight Bout: Michael Chandler (21-5, 156 lbs.) vs. #6 Dan Hooker (20-9, 156 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Hooker is four inches taller and has three and half inches of reach over Chandler. Hooker fighting long early, feinting to get reactions. Calf kick from Hooker. Chandler is coming forward but not cutting Hooker off at all. Inside leg kick from Hooker, who is switching his stance a fair bit. Leg kick from Hooker. Bit of a right to the body from Chandler. Another leg kick from Hooker. Chandler trying to push forward, lands a right to the body and a bit of one to the head. Calf kick from Hooker, that got a reaction out of Chandler. Chandler with a right to the body then a left hook to the head, Hooker is down and Chandler unloads as he’s on his knees to force a stoppage.

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Michael Chandler via TKO, punches, at 2:30 of Round 1

The First Round Finish Club thanks Mr. Chandler for his work this evening. He says he’s just a guy from a small town who’s been beaten down but always picked himself up and every road has led to this point. He talks us through the finish, then says this is the greatest moment of his professional life and tells Conor, Dustin, and Khabib that he’s coming for them, “God Bless and see you at the top!” Chandler did a decent blend of Dusty Rhodes and Ric Flair there.

Chandler had been throwing this right to the body enough to get a predictable reaction from Hooker. This time he shifts through on the punch, steering Hooker into the overhand left that follows and floors him with it.

Dustin Poirier has just two losses during his time at lightweight, one of those being a title fight against Khabib Nurmagomedov. Poirier rebounded from that failed title fight by beating Dan Hooker in June of last year, he’s hoping to get another crack at the belt in some fashion by avenging an earlier career loss and taking out arguably the biggest star in the entire sport. Conor McGregor is a former UFC featherweight and lightweight champion, but in activity has been a bit of an issue for him recently. McGregor was submitted by Khabib Nurmagomedov in 2018 then stayed out of the cage until January of 2020 when he steamrolled Donald Cerrone. Another year later he’s here and could stake a claim at a title shot if he’s able to best Poirier for a second time. McGregor is a surprisingly heavy favorite at -305 while the +250 comeback on Poirier might tempt a few bettors out there.

Lightweight Bout: #2 Dustin Poirier (26-6 1 NC, 156 lbs.) vs. #4 Conor McGregor (22-4, 155 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: These two are the same height while McGregor has two inches of reach over Poirier. Both men fighting southpaw. Bit of a left from McGregor. Poirier lands an inside leg kick. Another left from McGregor who’s pushing forward early. Poirier lands a right. Poirier shifts into a punch then hits a takedown. McGregor scoots to the fence and starts looking to wall walk. Back up in the clinch, McGregor spins Poirier into the fence. They trade some shoulder strikes while fighting for position. Poirier lands a short left and a knee to the body. McGregor with a few knees to the body. Poirier after a single leg, can’t get it but they keep clinch fighting. They resume trading shoulder strikes. Bit of an elbow from McGregor as they break. Poirier lands an inside leg kick. Both men miss lefts. McGregor lands a right uppercut. Poirier misses punches, and McGregor misses his counters. McGregor is sticking his jab out, Poirier lands a calf kick and a right hook. Another couple of leg kicks from Poirier. Wheel kick from McGregor is blocked. Jabs are traded again. Both men land punches again just before the round ends.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Poirier but could easily go either way

ROUND TWO: Poirier opens with a hard calf kick and they trade rights. Left from McGregor, but he takes another calf kick. McGregor lands a leg kick. Poirier back to the calf, and again. Bit of a right from Poirier. Both men land lefts. Another calf kick, that lead leg of McGregor isn’t feeling good. McGregor lands a left to the body and one to the head. McGregor catches a kick, but doesn’t do much with it. Poirier is really after that calf. Bit of a Poirier left. Both men split jabs. Poirier avoids a few lefts. McGregor lands a left. Poirier with another calf kick, McGregor’s leg is hurt. Hard punches from Poirier, he’s got McGregor hurt, he floors McGregor with a right and McGregor is done!

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Dustin Poirier via TKO, punches, at 2:32 of Round 2

Biggest win of Poirier’s career, and a heck of a performance at that. Mic time for Poirier, he says he’s happy but not surprised given his work ethic. He puts over McGregor, says maybe since they’re 1-1 they’ll need a trilogy. He then moves on to pimping his charity, gives love to his family, coaches, and city. When talking us through the fight he says he wanted to avoid the brawl, which he just kind of falls into. He says Holloway can claim to have the best boxing but he beat Holloway twice, and does give respect to Holloway. Asked about his future, he feels this should have been for the belt if Khabib is retired. I don’t disagree with that.

McGregor on the mic now, he says the layoff sucked but puts over the calf kicks and puts over Poirier. He plans on coming back and staying more active this year, but he’ll take his licks but he’s gutted. He hopes to represent his team better next time.

Here you can see McGregor’s mobility being severely compromised, when Poirier pivots off the fence McGregor doesn’t really move. Once McGregor is a stationary target, Poirier smartly gets into the pocket where his thudding power overwhelms McGregor. Great win.

Alright everyone, on that note UFC 257 comes to an end. Thank you all for reading along, be that live or after the fact. We’ll unpack all the action from this event on the 411 Ground and Pound Podcast. There’s no event next week, but once we hit February we’re every week for quite a while. I hope you’ll all come back next time, until then thank you again. As always, stay safe out there and keep checking 411mania for all of your pop culture needs.

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UFC 257, Robert Winfree