The return of the biggest star in Mixed Martial Arts is mere days away.
Conor McGregor will grace the octagon for the first time in over a year when he meets Dustin Poirier for the second time in his career in the UFC 257 headliner at Abu Dhabi’s Fight Island early on Sunday morning.
SuperSport, known as the #HomeOfSport, is the only place to see all the brutal MMA action from the Ultimate Fighting Championship.
The action will be broadcast live on SuperSport Action, Grandstand and Variety 3.
The prelims begin at 3am with the main card scheduled to start at 5am.
The fight is an eliminator for the UFC’s lightweight belt, although the match is really an audition to fight Khabib Nurmagomedov, the champion, who is retired but says he may change his mind if he sees something special this weekend.
McGregor himself has come out of retirement to re-enter the hard game.
He’s repaired his fractured relationship with UFC boss Dana White, recommitted himself to training and even taken his infamous smack talk down a notch in the build-up.
“Notorious,” whose sole fight last year lasted just 40 seconds, has praised Poirier and been notably more relaxed and laidback this week, a far cry from his image as the bad boy of the sport.
“I like Dustin. I think he’s a good fighter. He’s even a great fighter. But great is still levels below me. I’ll knock Dustin out inside 60 seconds,” said the Irishman.
His manager Audie Attar added: “This is the best Conor I’ve seen ever, and I’ve been with him almost a decade now. It’s the mental fortitude, the emotional intelligence, the self-awareness, the time he’s spending with his kids in between sessions and what that does to him.
“It’s the reflection of everything that’s happened to us to date – the good, the bad and the ugly – having a level of wherewithal and foresight to understand what we need to do going forward to achieve the goals we have now. I’ve never seen Conor like this.”
McGregor and Poirier first met in 2014 when McGregor scored a first-round knockout win.
But both fighters have grown since, garnering solid wins and moving up in weight.
UFC 257 will see another major lightweight clash when Dan Hooker (20-9) faces Michael Chandler (21-5), with the latter (a newcomer to the UFC after being signed from the Bellator series, where he was the lightweight world champion) hoping to land a statement win which will lure Nurmagomedov back into the Octagon.
“I want to put a stamp on good old fashioned American wrestling. Maybe I can entice Khabib to come back for an American wrestling vs. Russian Sambo [match], and see if he can beat me,” said Chandler.
UFC 257 broadcast details on January 24
3AM: UFC 257: Preliminary card – LIVE on SuperSport Grandstand, SuperSport Action, SuperSport Variety 3.
5AM: UFC 257: Main card – LIVE on SuperSport Grandstand, SuperSport Action, SuperSport Variety 3.