This weekend sees one of 2021’s biggest UFC events take place, as UFC 264 sees Conor McGregor and Dustin Poirier do battle in their trilogy fight.
UFC 264 isn’t a one-fight card by any means, and thankfully, the UFC has filled it with plenty of other exciting fighters to ensure an unforgettable event.
So with bonus payments of $50,000 available to the fighters who can most impress UFC president Dana White at UFC 264, which fight is the most likely to claim the ‘Fight of the Night’ award?
It’s always tricky to predict UFC fights, but based on what we’ve seen before, it could well prove to be one of these three clashes.
#1 UFC welterweight division – Carlos Condit vs. Max Griffin
While he’s now on the downswing of his career and could even find himself outside the UFC looking in should he lose at UFC 264, there’s no denying that Carlos Condit is one of the most exciting fighters of all time.
The former interim UFC welterweight champ has been in countless wars in the octagon over the years. In fact, his clashes with Martin Kampmann, Johny Hendricks, Jake Ellenberger and Georges St-Pierre are amongst the best UFC fights of all time.
‘The Natural Born Killer’ faces off with Max Griffin at UFC 264, and while ‘Max Pain’ hasn’t been involved in as many outright classics as Condit, he’s definitely a highly exciting fighter.
Griffin’s UFC record currently stands at 5-6, and while he doesn’t hold that many finishes on his ledger – just three in the octagon – it’s rare that he’s involved in a boring fight.
More often than not, Griffin is the type of fighter who is more than willing to meet his opponent in the center of the cage and throw down, betting on the fact that his chin will be tough enough to withstand the punishment he inevitably absorbs.
And if Condit feels the same way, we could be in for a full-blooded classic at UFC 264, along the lines of Griffin’s blood-soaked brawl with Alex Oliveira at UFC 248.
Can Condit still keep up with that kind of pace? Admittedly, it’s a question mark – and if he’s simply lost his durability and folds after a big shot, then it’s unlikely that the fight will win a bonus award.
But if ‘The Natural Born Killer’ can head into deep water with Griffin, then both men could be $50k richer at the end of the night.
#2 UFC welterweight division – Niko Price vs. Michel Pereira
A number of fighters right now could lay claim to being the most exciting fighter active in the UFC, but one of the most likely contenders is in action at UFC 264 this weekend.
Niko Price has been in the UFC now for almost five years, and in that time, he’s put together a record of 6-4, with two No Contests. Incredibly, in those 12 fights, Price has been the distance just once – in his eventually overturned draw with Donald Cerrone.
Essentially, ‘The Hybrid’ comes to finish his opponent, and he’s more than willing to risk being finished himself in doing so.
Any fight involving Price is almost guaranteed to be exciting, but his UFC 264 bout stands out more than most. That’s because he’s fighting Brazilian wildman Michel Pereira – a fighter who usually throws more unorthodox strikes during a single fight than most UFC stars attempt in their whole career.
Pereira has had five fights in the UFC thus far, going 3-2. And while he’s already been the distance twice, it’s safe to say that his reckless style is completely unique – meaning it’s impossible to take your eyes off one of his fights.
There are literally countless ways that this fight could end. The two men could brawl to a tight decision, Pereira could knock Price out with a spinning tornado kick, or Price could waylay ‘Demolidor’ with something equally rare. He is the only fighter to win a UFC bout with hammer fists from the bottom, after all.
Basically, this fight should almost guarantee fireworks, and it’d probably be the biggest surprise of the night if it somehow ends up being dull. If this isn’t a contender for the ‘Fight of the Night’ award, then we should be in for a hell of a show.
#3 UFC bantamweight division – Sean O’Malley vs. Kris Moutinho
On paper, at least, the bantamweight clash between Sean O’Malley and Kris Moutinho is a contender for one of UFC 264’s bonus awards – but it’s more likely to see O’Malley claiming an extra $50,000 for landing a brutal knockout.
O’Malley, one of the UFC’s best bantamweight prospects, was initially pegged to fight Louis Smolka, who dropped out of the fight last week. And rather than pick a genuine contender like Merab Dvalishvili as the replacement, the UFC chose newcomer Moutinho.
The general consensus, then, is that O’Malley will dispatch of the newcomer in a violent fashion. However, there are no guarantees in the UFC.
We’ve seen newcomers pull off big shocks before, even when losing. Nobody had heard of Lando Vannata, for instance, when he stepped in to fight Tony Ferguson as a late replacement, and he beat ‘El Cucuy’ from pillar to post before finally succumbing in what was an instant classic.
Therefore, if Moutinho comes in with the attitude that he’s got nothing to lose, and really, he hasn’t, and fights in a reckless manner, then who knows what could happen? After all, it’s not like “The Sugar Show” is an unbeatable fighter.
It’s probably likely that the fight ends in O’Malley’s favor either way, but if Moutinho really pushes things, then we could be in for a surprising contender for the ‘Fight of the Night’ award here.