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A little more than a year ago, Conor McGregor stepped in the Octagon with veteran mixed martial arts fighter Donald Cerrone. It took the popular Irishman only 40 seconds to deliver a vicious knockout, and it took far less time for what felt like millions of his fans to get on Twitter and start trash talking everyone else in the UFC. The plan was for two more fights in 2020 and another shot at the title he lost. Unfortunately, life got in the way. Whether it be because of the pandemic or some issues with UFC President Dana White, McGregor hasn’t been in action since. Fortunately, that’s all about to change with a fight that could open some big doors.

On January 23rd, Conor McGregor will headline UFC 257 when he squares off with Dustin Poirier. Neither man needs any introduction for fight fans, but for the casuals wondering why Poirier’s name sounds familiar, it’s because the two men actually fought at UFC 178 all the way back in 2014. McGregor wasn’t yet the global superstar he would later turn into thanks to a string of vicious knockouts and his superfight against Floyd “Money” Mayweather, and Poirier wasn’t anywhere near the developed fighter he later turned into. They weren’t even the main event.

McGregor ended the last fight via TKO in the first round, but many assume he’ll be in for much more of a challenge this time. Poirier is 10 and 2 since the last bout and has consistently put up Fight Of The Night performances over that stretch. In addition, there’s a possibility that some big opportunities could be ahead for whoever wins. UFC Lightweight Champion Khabib Nurmagomedov (who previously beat both McGregor and Poirier) recently announced his retirement. The speculation right now is that whoever wins at UFC 257 will fight for that soon to be vacant title, provided Nurmagomedov can’t be convinced to get in the Octagon again.

Of course, when it comes to McGregor, there’s always the lingering question of what he really wants. Those close to him are saying he’s in the best shape of his life. Dana White recently said the real Conor is back, but unlike the majority of mixed martial arts fighters, he has a ton of lucrative opportunities outside the UFC.

His fight with Mayweather reportedly earned him $130M. He’s been offered roles in movies and remains a pop culture figure. Recently, popular YouTuber Jake Paul has been trying to coax him into a boxing match too. Given the popularity of both men, that pay per view could be incredibly lucrative. Dana White, however, has been very insistent that won’t happen, but ultimately, McGregor is going to do what McGregor wants to do.

Regardless of what happens down the road, what matters in the immediacy is this fight against Dustin Poirier. Nothing opens more doors than winning, and a victory here would be huge for both men. Each has something to prove too. Poirier obviously wants revenge for the loss he took more than 6 years ago and assumedly wants a shot at the title, and McGregor wants to prove that he’s back and as badass as ever. He’s had some tremendous wins and produced some all-time highlights during his UFC career, but his two biggest recent fights against Mayweather and Nurmagomedov were both losses. I’m sure he would love to have a belt around his waist again to prove the haters wrong.

UFC 257 will take place on Saturday January 23rd in the United Arab Emirates. In addition to the main event discussed above, it’ll also feature some great lower card action including Dan Hooker and Michael Chandler and Jessica Eye and Joanne Calderwood. With a total of 12 fights, it should be a pretty spectacular night, and it’ll have a direct impact on some headline level UFC cards in the future. You’re not going to want to miss out. This has the potential to be the biggest and best fight card of the year. Fortunately, the pay per view is already available for preorder. You can get it on ESPN+ right here or you can bundle it together with Hulu, Disney+ and ESPN+ for even bigger savings.

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