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Conor McGregor over Dustin Poirier among best bets for UFC 257

Conor McGregor returns to the octagon for the first time in a year Saturday against Dustin Poirier in the main event of UFC 257 at Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.

McGregor is a -295 favorite at Circa, and the total is 2½ rounds (under -185). The former UFC champion made quick work of Poirier (26-6) in their first fight in 2014, winning on a first-round technical knockout.

Handicapper Lou Finocchiaro expects McGregor (22-4) to win the rematch in similar fashion and recommends a play on the Irishman to win via KO/TKO/DQ, which is -175 at the Westgate.

Finocchiaro praised Poirier’s grit and wealth of experience in fighting the best of the best. But he said the one constant theme in all of his fights is that he gets hit.

“That’s absolutely the worst weakness you can bring into a Conor McGregor fight,” said Finocchiaro (@GambLou). “McGregor is an unusually gifted athlete, and if he couples his natural movement abilities and fighting ability with precision focus and motivation, he’s a top-three talent of all time with Jon Jones and Khabib Nurmagomedov.

“I believe McGregor is completely laser-focused for this fight. A number of factors have come together, including his children, to present us with a McGregor that’s more grounded, focused and mature. For that reason, McGregor is the play for me.”

In McGregor’s last fight, on Jan. 18, 2020, he needed 40 seconds to defeat Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone via TKO.

At William Hill, 87 percent of the money wagered on the money line is on McGregor.

“It’s because all the reports are glowing that he’s in a good place,” William Hill sportsbook director Nick Bogdanovich said. “He’s in great shape, and he’s focused.”

Here are Finocchiaro’s other two best bets:

Hooker (-150) over Chandler

He likes Dan Hooker (20-9) over Michael Chandler (21-5) in the co-main event, in part, because he trains with Israel Adesanya and Alexander Volkanovski.

“Adesanya is on the same level of striking as McGregor, and Hooker strikes with Adesanya for practice,” Finocchiaro said. “Also in his camp is Volkanovski, who is as good a wrestler as there is in the organization, so he gets to practice wrestling as well.

“He’s more than prepared for Chandler, and he’s taller, younger and longer.”

Carlos Jr. (+105) over Tavares

Finocchiaro is backing Antonio Carlos Jr., aka “Shoeface,” over Brad Tavares in a middleweight fight.

“Carlos Jr. is taller, bigger, younger and has a reach advantage,” he said. “That said, he’s an underdog.”

Contact reporter Todd Dewey at tdewey@reviewjournal.com. Follow @tdewey33 on Twitter.

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