UFC 264 winners and losers: Poirier and Tuivasa shine

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Credit: USA Today

The fallout from UFC 264–and its headlining trilogy fight between Conor McGregor and Dustin Poirier–has continued days after the final scorecard was read inside the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. Being a numbered show, the stage for this card had a brighter spotlight than most Ultimate Fighting Championship events. Meaning, the wins, and losses for the competitors had a greater emotional weight than others. With that in mind, let’s take a look at the key UFC 264 winners and losers.

UFC 264 loser: Conor McGregor

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Jul 10, 2021; Las Vegas, Nevada, USA; Conor McGregor is carried out of the octogon following an injury suffered against Dustin Poirier during UFC 264 at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Usually in a piece like this, we often lead with the biggest winner of the night. However, when the biggest star in the sport loses and breaks limbs in the process, your lead is decided for you. The narrative spin from Team Conor McGregor, and even the UFC will be that the end of his trilogy with Dustin Poirier did not end in the way anyone wanted. This is true. “Notorious” breaking his tibia and fibula at the end of the first round was not a definitive end decided by the fighters or the judges.

That said, before the 32-year-olds ankle folded, up he was losing the fight, and bad. Enough so that two judges gave “Diamond” a 10-8 round in an industry that rarely hands out those sorts of scores. Overall it was a fairly rough night for the Irishman. Yes, he had his moments early, but his strongest round is always the opener and he was soundly dominated in this one. Then, after a bad first round, he had his ankle broken, had to end the fight sitting on his butt, and be stretchered out. However you want to shape the result of that fight, McGregor versus Poirier still offered a definitive bad night for the former two-division champion.

UFC 264 winner: Dustin Poirier

Poirier didn’t get the sort of parade-worthy performance he had in the pair’s January rematch, but he still exited the event looking great. Checked kick or no checked kick, McGregor went into the fight on his feet and had to be carried out after going to war with the Louisiana native. And as mentioned above, Poirier dominated the round on the mat. It had to give McGregor cold sweat flashbacks to UFC 229 and his loss to Khabib Nurmagomedov.

The antics of McGregor as he yelled in defiance while sitting on the Octagon mat, as Poirier tried to be the bigger man, only bolstered the 32-year-old as the competitor that clearly leaves this trilogy behind triumphant.

UFC 264 loser and winner: Kris Moutinho

Without a shadow of any doubt, Kris Moutinho took a hellacious pummeling from Sean O’Malley at UFC 264. A stunning 230 significant strikes were landed on him over just three rounds. But, rarely does being on the wrong end of a one-sided fight endear a competitor more to fans than this one did. Despite the technical gap between him and O’Malley, Moutinho, 28, showed a chin made out of vibranium and a heart of a dragon.

Even after being knocked down several times and sailing by taking 100 punches and kicks, his pressure on “Sugar” never relented. It was awe-inspiring at times. He put forth the sort of durability that would make the “Korean Zombie” Chan Sung Jung proud. He may have lost on Saturday night, but Mourtinho won over a bunch of new fans.

UFC 264 winner: Tai Tuivasa

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Jul 10, 2021; Las Vegas, Nevada, USA; Tai Tuivasa lands hits for a knockout victory against Greg Hardy during UFC 264 at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

After losing three straight, follow three consecutive wins to start his UFC career, there was some doubt about how much Octagon staying power Tai Tuivasa would have. He has put that to rest with his third straight three-for in the promotion. Which was capped off with a destructive knockout of Greg Hardy in Las Vegas.

Despite an obvious size disadvantage, and being legitimately wobbled by the former NFL pro-bowler, “Bam Bam” did what he does best and put a man to sleep. Because of the spotlight that follows the controversial Hardy, this latest win seems bigger than the others. The 28-year-old is primed for a jump into the top-15 of the heavyweight division, and worthy of getting a name opponent.

UFC 264 loser: Ryan Hall

On Saturday, Ryan Hall found out the hard way that being a specialist in 2021 MMA is risky. In his fights with weathered fighters like BJ Penn and Darren Elkins, “The Wizard” was able to mystify them with his Brazilian jiu-jitsu mastery. But in the 12 years younger, and well-rounded Ilia Topuria, he found a challenge he was ill-prepared for.

Topuria fought in a measured and tactical style beyond his age and cage experience. He exposed Hall’s lack of diverse takedowns and fight IQ. Hall is still a fascinating talent at featherweight, and will not lose his more devoted fans. However, “El Matador” taught the MMA fanbase a lesson on July 10. Compete as a specialist in the Octagon at your own risk.

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