Outside of a 170-pound Nate Diaz and a reserved Max Holloway, nobody has withstood the power of current Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) featherweight king Conor McGregor inside of the Octagon. That includes No. 9 ranked lightweight Dustin Poirier, who made a jump to 155 pounds after losing to "Notorious" at UFC 178 via first-round knockout.
According to Poirier, who takes on Michael Johnson later tonight (Sat., Sept. 17, 2016) at UFC Fight Night 94 live on FOX Sports 1 from State Farm Arena in Hidalgo, Texas, McGregor is the hardest puncher he has ever faced. That's quite the compliment, especially considering "The Diamond" has faced notable strikers like Chan Sung Jung, Bobby Green, Diego Brandao, Yancy Medeiros and Holloway.
"For sure man," said Poirier in a recent interview with Matt Serra when asked if he considers McGregor a heavy hitter (h/t BJPenn.com). "I have 33 fights, and I gotta say, unless it was just the spot but, the track record speaks for itself, he's the champ right now. He's the hardest hands I've ever felt."
Despite the knockout blow that sent Poirier packing and straight to the lightweight division, the 27-year-old finisher believes that loss made him into the better fighter he is today.
"In that Conor fight, I learned a lot," added Poirier. "I learned a lot about myself and about the fight game through that experience. I can't blame it on the weight or the talk, he just hit me with a good shot and I tried to circle and I planted my feet and he hit me with another good shot and I went down."
If Poirier can continue his quick ascension up the 155-pound ladder, he may one day find himself across the cage from McGregor again. Poirier will have to defeat Johnson tonight at UFC Fight Night 94 to further pad his resume, but his reinvention at the lightweight level has been spectacular to say the least.
MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Fight Night 94 fight card, starting with the Fight Pass "Prelims" matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. ET, and then the remaining undercard balance on FOX Sports 1 at 8 p.m. ET, before the main card start time at 10 p.m. ET, also on FOX Sports 1.