The main event is here. The eyes of the sporting world will descend upon Sin City on Saturday night when Conor McGregor meets Dustin Poirier at UFC 264 inside the T-Mobile Arena for the latest major UFC PPV event. The two have met twice previously with each scoring a knockout. McGregor's win came all the way back in 2014 while Poirier's revenge came in January.
Poirier has taken the long road to potential stardom. The Louisiana native has overcome some crushing defeats in his career, including a 2014 TKO loss to McGregor in less than two minutes. But Poirier bounced back from that loss to run off an 11-2 (1 NC) record with wins over five former titleholders, including McGregor, on his road to this trilogy main event. McGregor, on the other hand, became the global superstar of the moment shortly after his win over Poirier when he claimed both the featherweight and lightweight titles. But the Irishman has hit a bit of a rough patch with just a 3-3 record since 2016.
Elsewhere, a key welterweight showdown gets prominent placement in the co-main event when two former title challengers meet in Gilbert Burns and Stephen Thompson. Burns lost by TKO to champion Kamaru Usman in February in his lone attempt to capture gold while "Wonderboy" failed in two attempts against Tyron Woodley in 2016 and 2017. Now, both men are looking for one more chance at gold with a win on Saturday night.
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With so much happening on Saturday night, let's take a closer look at the full fight card with the latest odds from William Hill Sportsbook before we get to our staff predictions and picks for the PPV portion of the festivities.
UFC 264 fight card, odds
- Dustin Poirier -125 vs. Conor McGregor +105, lightweight
- Stephen Thompson -160 vs. Gilbert Burns +135, welterweight
- Tai Tuivasa -150 vs. Greg Hardy +125, heavyweight
- Irene Aldana -120 vs. Yana Kunitskaya +100, women's bantamweight
- Sean O'Malley -900 vs. Kris Moutinho +600, bantamweight
- Max Griffin -200 vs. Carlos Condit +170, welterweight
- Michel Pereira -180 vs. Niko Price +155, welterweight
- Dricus Du Plessis -120 vs. Trevin Giles +100, middleweight
- Ilia Topuria -230 vs. Ryan Hall +190, featherweight
- Jennifer Maia -195 vs. Jessica Eye +165, women's flyweight
- Brad Tavares -170 vs. Omari Akhmedov +145, middleweight
- Zhalgas Zhumaglov -310 vs. Jerome Rivera +250, flyweight
- Alen Amedovski -130 vs. Hu Yaozong +110, middleweight
With such a massive main event on tap, the crew at CBS Sports went ahead with predictions and picks for the main card. Here are your pick makers: Brent Brookhouse (Combat sports writer), Brian Campbell (Combat sports writer, co-host of "Morning Kombat"), Matthew Coca (producer), Jack Crosby (editor), Michael Mormile (producer) and Brandon Wise (senior editor).
UFC 264 picks, predictions
|McGregor vs. Poirier||Poirier||Poirier||Poirier||Poirier||Poirier|
|Thompson vs. Burns||Burns||Thompson||Thompson||Burns||Thompson|
|Tuivasa vs. Hardy||Tuivasa||Tuivasa||Tuivasa||Tuivasa||Tuivasa|
|Aldana vs. Kunitskaya||Kunitskaya||Kunitskaya||Aldana||Kunitskaya||Kunitskaya|
|O'Malley vs. Moutinho||O'Malley||O'Malley||O'Malley||O'Malley||O'Malley|
|Records to date (2021)||23-11||22-12||23-11||20-13||17-17|
Campbell on why Poirier will win: The harsh reality for McGregor entering their trilogy is that Poirier has evolved to the level in which he might be better than the "Notorious" one in every category short of one-punch power. Whatever strategy McGregor brings to the table, Poirier showed in the rematch that he was able to one-up him with a mid-fight adjustment. Although McGregor had moments in their rematch while walking his opponent down with punches, Poirier also showed the ease in which he can take McGregor down should he need to go in that direction. As always, Poirier will need to weather the early storm of the opening round when McGregor is perennially dangerous. But Poirier is too well-rounded and battle tested to allow McGregor's one-note style to be enough at this elite level.
Brookhouse on why Poirier will win: McGregor is always one shot away from winning a fight and that's no different against Poirier. Beyond that ability to catch Poirier with a big shot, McGregor doesn't seem to have a lot of paths to victory here. Poirier is a more complete mixed martial artist and has been grinding and evolving while McGregor has toyed with boxing, retirement and crime. It's a lot to ask for McGregor to have completely overhauled his style in six months of training -- minus time off because of the January knockout loss -- meaning his stance is still going to be wide open for leg kicks. McGregor also isn't up to Poirier's level in cardio and everyone knows his liabilities on the ground, which is clear with his new stance that he "only counts knockouts" on his record and his statement that Poirier would be a "dusty b---" if he goes for a takedown. There's just too many ways for Poirier to win and too few for McGregor that the pick feels obvious.
Campbell on why Burns will win: Both fighters have been to the welterweight title level and come up short, and each one is looking for one more shot at re-entering the overall title picture. Because of that, it's hard not to imagine Thompson and Burns both coming in carrying the pressure of hoping to make a statement. It's that potential that could be dangerous for the 38-year-old Thompson given just how explosive Burns has become during his late-career resurgence into a well-rounded fighter. Burns came up short against champion Kamaru Usman in February but landed some big strikes early on. Catching "Wonderboy" won't be easy and will take some patience, but Burns has the cardio to push an aggressive pace and create enough chaos to open up a finishing strike.
Brookhouse on why Thompson will win: Burns has become a dangerous welterweight and came very close to taking the 170-pound title off Kamaru Usman. Thompson creates a different kind of puzzle, however, with timing and angles that are almost entirely unique in the division. In a three-round fight, Burns may end up taking a round to figure out how to deal with those stylistic quirks, which already puts him in a desperate situation. Thompson should be able to avoid taking a killshot from Burns and just outpoint the Brazilian to score a decision win and creep a little bit closer to one final title shot.
Brookhouse on why Tuivasa will win: When figuring out why Tuivasa will win, you can start with Hardy's cardio issues, which have been a recurring issue in his career. Tuivasa is a good fighter, and Hardy isn't on the level of the men who have beat him. With a steady diet of leg kicks and some pace pushing, Tuivasa should be in position to finish off an exhausted Hardy. It's worth remembering that Tuivasa went a hard three rounds with Andrei Arlovski, so we've seen that he has the ability to go the full 15 without fading. Hardy has repeatedly had trouble going a hard five.
CBS Sports will be with you all week long with live coverage from Las Vegas for both Morning Kombat and CBS Sports HQ. Keep it locked to this page for constant updates on the fight card, news from the press conferences and availabilities as well as highlights from the weigh-ins. We will also have you covered on fight night with our live blog for round-by-round updates throughout the night.
Who wins Poirier vs. McGregor 3? And which fighter is a must-back? Visit SportsLine now to get detailed top picks on UFC 264, all from the UFC insider who's up nearly $9,500 on MMA picks in the past year, and find out.