UFC 264 Fight Week Autopsy

What a week it was from the fight capital of the world in Las Vegas, Nevada. Paradise opened back up in a big way, holding several major events. However, out of all of the star studded headliners that made their way out to the desert this week, none shined brighter than UFC 264. The Ultimate Fighting Championship was back in a big way in their first return to the T-Mobile Arena since March 7th 2020. Not just that, but Dana White and company brought in an absolutely stacked undercard to serve as the appetizer to Dustin Poirier vs Conor McGregor III. Fight week was as hectic as ever, and it led into what was an even more chaotic night of fights. Let’s dive into what was an unforgettable week of UFC action:

UFC 264 Media Day

The vast majority of the athletes set to compete on Saturday night arrived at the UFC Apex on Wednesday morning to face the media. 

Some notable moments included the many sound bites provided to the media by Greg Hardy. He described Derrick Lewis as “fat,fat,fat” and “an ex-con” while also acknowledging that he is not currently on Lewis’ level in terms of fighting ability, but he looks forward to facing him somewhere down the line once he gains more experience. Greg even mentioned his aspirations of pursuing a professional boxing career, even critiquing former heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder’s bench press form in a video that surfaced the week prior. He sarcastically stated, “That guy can beat me? Okay.” 

His opponent Tai Tuivasa scoffed at Hardy’s boxing plans and said he looked forward to testing his striking abilities inside the octagon. Tuivasa also shared a story where he once had approximately 50 people contribute their own spit for a shoey that he gulped (no thanks). 

“The Sugar Show” Sean O’Malley came out sporting a Miami Vice themed hair coloring and a bedazzled marijuana leaf emblem chain. Sean made it clear that his goal for Saturday was to get a viral knockout and then look forward to a top 15 opponent for his next bout. 

Coming off of a suspension for marijuana, Niko Price seemed to be in a great place mentally. Price said that since he had been suspended, he has been completely sober and he was excited to show off a new and improved version of himself when he faced off against fellow fan-favorite Michel Pereira. 

UFC 264 Pre-Fight Press Conference

A packed T-Mobile Arena set the stage for what was an explosive pre-fight press conference featuring Dana White, Dustin Poirier, and Conor McGregor. Important to note that while Dustin had been in town since the prior weekend, McGregor had only just landed in Las Vegas late the day before. McGregor spent his Wednesday afternoon completing his media duties before Thursday’s press conference which would be the end of his media obligations. 

Conor entered the stage to thunderous cheers as he slowly looked around and soaked it all in. Poirier received the exact opposite treatment, as he was greeted with deafening boo’s. This would prove to be the theme of fight week no matter what event it was. Before the two even sat down, McGregor was aggressively stalking Poirier for several minutes, having to be held back by UFC security numerous times. Conor even dumped out and threw Poirier’s hot sauce which was on stage for promotional purposes. McGregor made multiple comments about Dustin’s wife, he even started a “Jolie’s wife” chant. For his official prediction, McGregor said he would throw kill shots and that Poirier would need to leave the octagon on a stretcher. However, Dustin did not seem at all bothered by Conor’s antics this time around (a polar opposite to the buildup of their first fight). Poirier joked that in their last meeting, Conor was “not McGregor Fast, McGregor sleep!” The two then faced off with Conor jawing at Dustin the whole time, and finishing by throwing a teep kick that unintentionally struck Dana White’s ribs. 

UFC 264 Weigh-ins

The UFC Apex set the stage for Friday morning’s official weigh-ins. 

Dustin Poirier was the first on the scale as he hit the 156 pound limit with ease. 

While the original indication was that McGregor would be the first on the scale, he for some reason took his time before weighing in. Conor also weighed in at 156 pounds, in what looked like not much of a weight cut at all for him. Interesting to note that McGregor had a backstage altercation with back-up fighter Rafael Dos Anjos that was promptly broken up by UFC security. Clearly those two still have some heat after their bout for the lightweight title back in 2016 was cancelled after Dos Anjos had to pull out due to a foot injury. 

In a somewhat comical moment, Max Griffin’s weight was initially read aloud as 171.5 pounds, which would put him a half pound over the welterweight limit. He simply said “No,” and the commission quickly weighed him again where he was officially measured at 171 pounds. 

The only fighter to miss weight was Irene Aldana who weighed in at 139.5 pounds, which is 3.5 pounds above the bantamweight limit. Aldana’s camp had previously endured a tough battle with COVID-19. Even though the virus had left her system a while ago, she was still feeling the effects of it which led to an unsuccessful weight cut. 

In the afternoon, the fans packed the T-Mobile Arena once again for the ceremonial weigh-ins. The energy in the building was palpable, and the fighters certainly fed off of it. 

The UFC faithful were treated to a backflip by Michel Pereira right off of the scale. This maneuver would prove to be a slight preview of his tactics ahead of his highly anticipated bout against Niko Price. 

While there were many moments that made the arena pop, one of the highlights was when Joe Rogan announced Sean O’Malley’s name as he made his way to the scale. O’Malley’s star power was on full display this week as the fans went ballistic any time he was at the forefront of the action. 

Despite this, nobody got a warmer welcome than Conor McGregor who was drowned with cheers as he made his way to the stage. In vintage form, Conor got on the scale and roared with the crowd. Once again Poirier made his way to the stage accompanied by boo’s. He and McGregor then faced off from a distance. It was clear that after their faceoff from the day before, Dana White was taking no chances. “Tomorrow night, I’m gonna make this man pay with his life! And I mean it! You’re dead in that octagon tomorrow night!” was McGregor’s final message to Poirier just before he exited the stage. The air was thick with anticipation at the result of the weigh-ins.

UFC 264

Expectations were high for UFC 264 since the card was so heavily stacked with top talent and fascinating matchups. The theatrics of fight week only increased what was already a highly anticipated event. It featured the most celebrities ever, the most pre-buys ever, the highest attendance at T-Mobile Arena, and the second highest gate in arena history. With a star-studded crowd in attendance (including Justin Bieber, Donald Trump, Kourtney Kardashian, Odell Beckham Jr., and many more) the fighters on Saturday’s card put on a show.

Zhalgas Zhumagulov finished Jerome Rivera with a standing guillotine in what was a thrilling one round fight.

Brad Tavares defeated Omari Akhmedov in what was an impressive performance by him via decision.

Jennifer Maia defeated Jessica Eye via decision to close out the early prelims. Much credit to Jessica Eye who fought for two rounds with a massive gash in the middle of her forehead. Despite her face being covered in blood she showed no quit, and for that she deserves all the credit in the world.

Dricus Du Plessis knocked out Trevin Giles in the first round of an entertaining scrap. Du Plessis is a well known figure back in his native South Africa and he gained plenty of new fans with his picture perfect K.O. shot here. Dricus also took the time to correct the public on the pronunciation of his name in the post fight interview. 

Ilia Topuria knocked out Ryan Hall at the end of a bizarre first round. Hall’s usual tactic of threatening with constant imanari rolls proved to be ineffective against Topuria, who finished the fight via ground and pound to remain undefeated.

Michel Pereira defeated Niko Price in an extremely entertaining decision. While Pereira controlled the fight early on (with a backflip for good measure), he faded a bit to the end and gave Price an opportunity to get back in the fight. Unfortunately for Niko, it was too little too late.

Max Griffin defeated Carlos Condit via decision to close out the preliminary card. In what was a dominating performance where Condit just seemed a step behind, Griffin was able to showcase his skills against a man whom he has idolized for quite some time now.

Sean O’Malley finished Kris Mutinho via standing TKO. Herb Dean rightfully stepped in and called the fight off towards the end of the third round approaching a decision that was all but a formality. Although he did not find the viral knockout he was looking for, O’Malley landed 230 significant strikes, just 8 significant strikes short of record holder Nate Diaz for the most significant strikes landed in a three round fight.

Irena Aldana knocked out Yana Kunitskaya at the end of the first round. Yana brought the fight to Irene, but Aldana proved to be too much to handle with her counter striking and she put Yana away despite her weight cut dilemma. 

Tai Tuivasa knocked out Greg Hardy just over a minute into the first round. Hardy initially rocked Tuivasa and rushed in to finish the fight, only to be put down himself and Tai quickly finished the fight with ground and pound strikes. Tai walked out to the tune of the Spice Girls, got a viral knockout, danced, then performed a spirited shoey on top of the cage. Safe to say Tai Tuivasa gained himself plenty of fans with that performance.

Gilbert Burns defeated Stepehen Thompson via unanimous decision. Thompson, who is extremely hard to take to the ground, was taken down repeatedly by Burns where he was controlled with relative ease. Burns took the time in his post fight interview to call out Jorge Masvidal who was cage side and seemed to be up to the challenge.

Dustin Poirier defeated Conor McGregor via TKO at the end of round one (doctor’s stoppage). Conor opened up the round with spinning kicks to the body and some heavy leg kicks. While Poirier did have his moments on the feet, his best work was done on the ground where he repeatedly rained down on McGregor with some vicious elbows. Although Conor threatened with a guillotine early on and had some effective elbows and upkicks from the bottom, Dustin definitely won the grappling exchanges this time around. Once they got back to their feet with seconds remaining in the round, McGregor threw a punch then planted awkwardly on his foot, resulting in him snapping his Tibia bone, nearly getting finished by Poirier to end the round. Once the round ended, it was clear McGregor would be unable to continue as he was in agonizing pain and could not stand. It is unclear whether or not Dustin caused the injury by checking Conor’s kicks, but regardless two judges gave Dustin a 10-8 nod for that round. The bad blood spilled over into the post fight interviews where both fighters voiced their displeasures with one another. Conor continued to exchange barbs at Dustin and his wife while he was being tended to on the ground, doubling down on his statements from earlier in the week. McGregor’s sudden and gruesome injury made for a somewhat anti-climactic conclusion to what was a spectacular night of fights.

UFC 264 Post-Fight Press Conference

After the event, Dana White, Gilbert Burns, and Dustin Poirier came and spoke to the media.

Dana White estimated that UFC 264 racked up somewhere between 1.7 million and 1.8 million pay-per-view buys. He also insisted that Dustin and Conor’s rivalry could not end in that fashion and that a fourth fight is inevitable sometime down the line. He confirmed that Poirier will be next to challenge Charles Oliviera for the lightweight title, but it will not be at Allegiant Stadium. 

Gilbert Burns was upset that he did not get the finish he was looking for, but he was still proud of his performance since he defeated a top level fighter that not many want to face in Stephen Thompson. He also concluded that since he just “took the NMF belt” he wants to face Jorge Masvidal for the BMF belt. Burns was also not concerned with criticism of his slow-paced performance since he believes his lack of patience is what led to his downfall in his last fight against Kamaru Usman.

Dustin Poirier echoed McGregor’s sentiment that their rivalry is not over. He insisted that they will fight again whether that be in the octagon or on the sidewalk. Dustin also said that while he did a good job of not engaging in trash talk all week, he lashed out in the octagon post-fight when Conor kept yelling at him, making gestures and saying he was going to kill him. Poirier admittedly was unbothered by the comments made about his wife, but drew the line when Conor kept saying he was going to kill him. While he said he wanted a bit of time off to enjoy time with his family, he is fully intent on challenging Charles Olivieria for the lightweight title next.

The day after UFC 264, we found out that McGregor underwent a successful 3.5 hour surgery in Los Angeles, repairing his tibia and fibula. He is expected to make a full recovery after he spends six weeks on crutches and several months rehabilitating that leg. His timetable for a return to the octagon is unknown, but he fully intends to do so as soon as he can.

What a week it was for the UFC. We will certainly remember this one for years to come as one of the most dramatic and entertaining fight weeks of recent memory. Although the main event ended abruptly, it does not take away from what a thrilling card it was. We will look forward to Dustin Poirier challenging Charles Oliviera for the lightweight championship in the near future, and how Conor McGregor will bounce back from this unfortunate injury.

Massachusetts native currently writing for Severe MMA. Former writer for Neutral Zone LLC. Follow me on Twitter @lander_theo, LinkedIn and Youtube @ Theo Lander for articles and event coverage.