It’s finally here! While the UFC 257 lineup does offer some intriguing bouts throughout, everyone, no doubt, has their eyes on the main and co-main event. The predictions from the MMA Empire team, along with our guest picker, can be found below for the five-fight main card.
Our guest picker for this event is UFC fighter, and Canada’s own, Kyle Nelson (13-4). Nelson earned his first UFC victory back in Sept. 2019, a first round knockout of Polo Reyes. Nelson fought out his four-fight deal with the UFC in his last bout against Billy Quarantillo, and we hope to see him re-sign and get back in the octagon soon!
2021 standings thru UFC on ESPN 20
T1. Cody Davis (7-4) 11-9-1 in 2020
T1. Cody Rempel (7-4) 11-9-1 in 2020
T3. Cooper Riehl (6-5) 13-7-1 in 2020
T3. Cole Shelton (6-5) N/A in 2020
T5. Dylan Bowker (5-6) N/A in 2020
T5. Guest picker (5-6) 10-10-1 in 2020
7. Kylan Knowler (4-7) N/A in 2020
T8. Joel Griffith (3-8) 12-8-1 in 2020
T8. Joe McDonagh (3-8) N/A in 2020
Conor McGregor vs. Dustin Poirier
Cody Davis – “I see this playing out very similar to their first meeting.” Pick: Conor McGregor via TKO.
Cody Rempel – “Since their initial meeting, Poirier has established himself as a top lightweight in the UFC. Despite McGregor’s inactivity, he’s still heavily favoured and should be able to end it quick with another knockout.” Pick: Conor McGregor via TKO.
Cooper Riehl – “I can’t pick against The Diamond, he’s my boy. I think Poirier can win the fight by mixing things up and getting inside. He should be able to handle McGregor’s power better at 155 and slowly wear him down.” Pick: Dustin Poirier via TKO.
Cole Shelton – “Both McGregor and Poirier are better fighters, but Poirier still gets hit a lot and eventually, in the second round, Conor will land the KO shot.” Pick: Conor McGregor by knockout.
Dylan Bowker – “While much has justifiably been made of Poirier’s improvements since the first fight, I still see McGregor emerging as the winner, and doing so emphatically.” Pick: Conor McGregor via knockout.
Kyle Nelson – “McGregor always starts strong and I think his straight punches and power will beat Poirier’s loopy punches.” Pick: Conor McGregor via TKO.
Kylan Knowler – “I have visualized this fight going myriad ways as we all have, but ultimately, despite Poirier’s growth since their first meeting, I see the same advantages McGregor had then presenting themselves once more. Even if Poirier can extend the Irishman late, I don’t think it will take more than one or two significant connections from McGregor to decide the affair.” Pick: Conor McGregor via TKO.
Joel Griffith – “Although Poirier has definitely improved a lot since their first meeting, the fact remains McGregor is still a lethal sniper and Poirier is still very hittable. McGregor will find his mark once again.” Pick: Conor McGregor via TKO.
Joe McDonagh – “To be honest, I go back and forth on this daily. McGregor looks LOCKED in. Poirier is one of my favourite fighters and I think he can take punishment from anyone at 155 pounds, so if this goes to deep waters, Poirier wins it late. The thing is can he take 155 McGregor precision? We will see.” Pick: Dustin Poirier via knockout.
Picks: Conor McGregor: 7, Dustin Poirier: 2
Dan Hooker vs. Michael Chandler
Cody Davis – “I think this is a great matchup for Chandler’s UFC debut, and I see him making a statement.” Pick: Michael Chandler via unanimous decision.
Cody Rempel – “Hooker has taken the fight that many turned down. Chandler finally has the chance to remove any doubt that he’s one of the best lightweights in the world. Chandler should be able to edge Hooker out and put a number next to his name.” Pick: Michael Chandler via unanimous decision.
Cooper Riehl – “This is a great matchup stylistically. I think Chandler mixing in his high-level wrestling will be the difference-maker in this one.” Pick: Michael Chandler via unanimous decision.
Cole Shelton – “This is a tough fight to call, but I believe Chandler will use his wrestling to win the fight.” Pick: Michael Chandler via unanimous decision.
Dylan Bowker – “I think Chandler will mix the grappling and striking well over the course of three rounds en route to a victorious UFC debut.” Pick: Michael Chandler via unanimous decision.
Kyle Nelson – “This is a hard one to pick because we haven’t seen Chandler compete in the UFC yet, but I think his all-around skill and cardio will outwork Hooker.” Pick: Michael Chandler via unanimous decision.
Kylan Knowler – “Initially, I thought Hooker’s unusual physical attributes for the weight class, in concert with his skillset, would be too much, but it remains to be seen if there will be residual effects from his brutal war with Poirier. It is obvious from interviews that Chandler is aware of the challenge in front of him, particularly the threat of a knee when shooting for takedowns, and his debut in the UFC may therefore resemble Alvarez’s. I think he will make the fight a grappling-heavy grind and only go for the legs in clinch situations, which will secure the win on points.” Pick: Michael Chandler via split decision.
Joel Griffith – “My initial thought in this one was Hooker. But after a closer look I think this is a great matchup for Chandler. He can easily hang with Hooker on the feet, but should also mix in his wrestling game to leave victorious in his UFC debut.” Pick: Michael Chandler via unanimous decision.
Joe McDonagh – “I think Chandler belongs among the best in the world, a Bellator champion who just knocked out Benson Henderson. That being said, I think Hooker, coming off the Poirier FOTN loss, doesn’t let this moment slip.” Pick: Dan Hooker via unanimous decision.
Picks: Dan Hooker: 1, Michael Chandler: 8
Joanne Calderwood vs. Jessica Eye
Cody Davis – “I see Eye landing the more meaningful and significant shots in what should be a back and forth three-round battle.” Pick: Jessica Eye via unanimous decision.
Cody Rempel – “Both of these ladies have found mixed results as of late, but are both in the thick of the flyweight rankings. This one is pretty close to a pick ’em and I’m picking the Scot to get the nod on the scorecards.” Pick: Joanne Calderwood via unanimous decision.
Cooper Riehl – “I feel like Calderwood has too much skill for Eye in the stand-up game, but should be a good scrap though.” Pick: Joanne Calderwood via TKO.
Cole Shelton – “I expect this fight to remain standing and Calderwood to be more active on the feet to win a close decision.” Pick: Joanne Calderwood via unanimous decision.
Dylan Bowker – “I foresee Calderwood being a step ahead of Eye and out-pacing her in this one.” Pick: Joanne Calderwood via unanimous decision.
Kyle Nelson – “Calderwood’s output and combos will win her the fight.” Pick: Joanne Calderwood via unanimous decision.
Kylan Knowler – “Both women are entering this bout off a loss and both of their standing in the division has taken a nosedive; both being recently the number one-ranked contender. I think Eye will be able to avoid prolonged striking exchanges with the more versatile Scot and control the bulk of the fight with her wrestling.” Pick: Jessica Eye via split decision.
Joel Griffith – “This is going to be a very close fight in my eyes. I don’t see either fighter looking to take it to the mat, and I see Calderwood putting together enough volume to take home the win.” Pick: Joanne Calderwood via unanimous decision.
Joe McDonagh – “Calderwood will keep it from being two losses in a row. Calderwood holds a slight striking advantage in my eyes.” Pick: Joanne Calderwood via unanimous decision.
Picks: Joanne Calderwood: 7, Jessica Eye: 2
Makhmud Muradov vs. Andrew Sanchez
Cody Davis – “Sanchez’s path to the victory in this one is to take it to the ground and keep it there. I think he’s successful in doing so.” Pick: Andrew Sanchez via unanimous decision.
Cody Rempel – “Muradov is in the midst of a long winning streak and is a proven finisher. That streak will continue here as Muradov wears Sanchez down and finishes in the later rounds.” Pick: Makhmud Muradov via TKO.
Cooper Riehl – “I expect this to be a fun fight with a little bit of everything mixed in, but Muradov will probably be too much for Sanchez. He should be able to get the nod on the scorecards.” Pick: Makhmud Muradov via unanimous decision.
Cole Shelton – “I originally had Sanchez, but I have concerns over his cardio. I do think Sanchez will win the first round, but will start to fade and Muradov will piece him up on the feet to win the second and third rounds.” Pick: Makhmud Muradov via unanimous decision.
Dylan Bowker – “I foresee Sanchez being able to push the pace and lead the dance en route to a grinding win that goes the distance.” Pick: Andrew Sanchez via unanimous decision.
Kyle Nelson – “I see Muradov being too much for Sanchez on the feet.” Pick: Makhmud Muradov via unanimous decision.
Kylan Knowler – “If Sanchez comes out in a traditional karate stance like last time, it could be an interesting puzzle for Muradov for the first round or so, until he is able to time his counters to Sanchez’s entries or otherwise provoke them with leg kicks and feints. This could go the distance, but I think Muradov will eventually catch him with something significant enough to end the night on his terms.” Pick: Makhmud Muradov via TKO.
Joel Griffith – “Unless Sanchez can succeed in taking this to the ground, he is going to be out of his league with Muradov on the feet. Three of Sanchez’s five losses have come via knockout, and I see Muradov adding another to that list.” Pick: Makhmud Muradov via knockout.
Joe McDonagh – “I think Sanchez is going to surprise some people and find that opening like he did his last fight.” Pick: Andrew Sanchez via knockout.
Picks: Makhmud Muradov: 6, Andrew Sanchez: 3
Amanda Ribas vs. Marina Rodriguez
Cody Davis – “I see Ribas being a step ahead of Rodriguez everywhere, and eventually finding a finish on the ground.” Pick: Amanda Ribas via submission.
Cody Rempel – “Ribas is on an absolute tear right now and marching her way up the strawweight ladder. Rodriguez was a hot prospect coming off DWCS, but has been largely inconsistent over her five-fight stretch, going 2-1-2. Ribas has all the momentum and should be able to use her well-rounded skillset to cruise to victory.” Pick: Amanda Ribas via unanimous decision.
Cooper Riehl – “Ribas has had a great UFC run and I expect her to keep things going. I see a title shot in her future.” Pick: Amanda Ribas via submission.
Cole Shelton – “Rodriguez has a problem with stuffing takedowns and getting back to her feet. Ribas will be able to get her down and eventually tap her out.” Pick: Amanda Ribas via submission.
Dylan Bowker – “I think 2021 will be a big year for Ribas and I think it starts with a victory here in her first outing of the calendar year.” Pick: Amanda Ribas via unanimous decision.
Kyle Nelson – “I like Ribas’ ground game, but I think it will take her a round or two to wear Rodriguez out and get the submission.” Pick: Amanda Ribas via submission.
Kylan Knowler – “Rodriguez may prove an interesting challenge for the rising prospect Ribas. I see Rodriguez’s length combined with her muay thai being a problem for Ribas, but the fight eventually going to the mat in a scramble and Ribas finding an armbar or other submission from top control.” Pick: Amanda Ribas via submission.
Joel Griffith – This fight is a lot closer than the betting odds indicate. If Rodriguez can keep it standing for the majority of the fight, she can easily walk away with the decision win. However, she hasn’t shown the ability to stuff takedowns consistently yet, so I see Ribas using that path to victory.” Pick: Amanda Ribas via unanimous decision.
Joe McDonagh – “Life has been the Amanda Ribas show for a while now. That’ll continue at UFC 257 as she dominates to a decision.” Pick: Amanda Ribas via unanimous decision.