Conor McGregor v Dustin Poirier: a look back on their first clash ahead of their UFC 257 rematch

January 22, 2021

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Conor McGregor v Dustin Poirier: a look back on their first clash ahead of their UFC 257 rematch



Conor McGregor will return to the Octagon on 23rd January and will renew hostilities with Dustin Poirier at UFC 257. The rematch will be the main card of the event in Abu Dhabi and it should be a fascinating duel. The pair have history and McGregor – who hasn’t fought in a year – will be desperate to prove a point and show that he’s still one of the best lightweights in the division.

Can Poirier exact revenge over the Irishman? Or will McGregor dish out more punishment? These questions will be answered, and it will also give us an insight into what lies in store next for these fighters.

What happened in the first fight?

In their previous meeting, McGregor made light work of the American. In the build-up to their showdown at UFC 278 six years ago, there had been a lot of sledging and trash talking, but McGregor put on a devastating display in the Octagon. He only needed two minutes to knock Poirier out cold in Las Vegas.

McGregor last fought in January 2020 and he is usually a quick finisher. He destroyed Donald Cerrone inside 40 seconds, whereas Poirier’s last appearance saw him come through in a five-round war of attrition against Dan Hooker last July.

As far as the tale of the tape is concerned, McGregor has won 22 of his 26 contests, while Poirier has suffered six defeats from 32 bouts. McGregor edges things in the reach stakes with a two-inch advantage, and the majority of the 32-year-old’s victories have come by way of knockout or TKO (87%). In terms of grappling, McGregor has the upper hand as he has a higher takedown accuracy (62%) and takedown defence (70%).

This time around, McGregor has vowed to knock out Poirier inside 60 seconds and it will be fascinating to see if he is true to his word.

Dana White bombarded with questions

While McGregor and UFC president Dana White haven’t always seen eye to eye, things are getting back on track between them. White has admitted that McGregor is eagerly anticipating UFC 257 and he has been bombarding him with questions.

In an interview with ESPN, White said: “There’s nothing more exciting or fun than a motivated Conor McGregor when his head is in the right place. And you can tell when he is and when he isn’t, and right now, he’s in.

“My conversations with Conor, I know when the real Conor is here and the other Conor is here, and believe me when I tell you, the real Conor is here.

“He’s hitting me up and asking me questions about the layout of the arena, the walk-in, all these types of things that he’s interested in knowing about right now.”

While the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted the UFC calendar last year, McGregor appeared to have turned his back on the sport when he made a bizarre retirement statement, but his return against Poirier will give a clue as to his long-term intentions.

Opening doors

For McGregor, getting through Poirier will be a challenge and he can’t look too far ahead. Nevertheless, a comprehensive McGregor victory could well open doors for the Irishman.

If McGregor emerges victorious, it will be fascinating to see who he calls out next. Khabib Nurmagomedov retired last year, but there were disgraceful scenes at the end of his last bout with McGregor two years ago after he won by submission.

White is trying to tempt Nurmagomedov for one last big-money fight, but could that be McGregor? However, Khabib (aka ‘The Eagle’) and his team think that a rematch with McGregor is unlikely to happen. Khabib’s manager Ali Abdelaziz gave an unequivocal answer when asked about the possibility of McGregor and Khabib getting it on in the Octagon again.

He said: “Khabib all the time says this to me, ‘we don’t really care about Conor’. Somebody might say ‘100 million dollars’. I don’t think that will persuade Khabib.

“If Khabib doesn’t wanna fight, I don’t want to pressure Khabib or ask him too much, I let him be.

“I believe in Dana White. If anyone can get it done, it’s Dana White. These two guys, Dana and Khabib, they really love each other, they respect each other, Dana’s really good about getting people to do things.”

However, speculation has been mounting that were Khabib to make a comeback, he would prefer to take on Georges St-Pierre, who is widely regarded as one of the greatest UFC fighters of all time. As far as McGregor is concerned, he has Poirier to deal with first. However, McGregor would be making a grave mistake if he thinks that he will be able to dismantle the American as easily as he did in their first bout.

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