Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Lightweight knockout artists Conor McGregor and Dustin Poirier this weekend (Sat., Jan. 23, 2021) at UFC 257 inside Ethiad Arena on “Fight Island” in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.
Just a few days passed the one year anniversary of his most recent win, McGregor makes his return. Not only is the Irishman returning to competition, but he’s back at Lightweight, the division of perhaps his all-time best performance opposite Eddie Alvarez. With Khabib Nurmagomedov largely out of the picture, there’s never been a better time for a second run at the 155-pound strap.
Poirier knows just how difficult such a run can be. The win streak he put together to capture the interim title is really an amazing piece of work, an unbelievable showing of improvement and grit. Now, Poirier is in the midst of trying to recreate that brilliance and score the undisputed crown.
Let’s take a look at the keys to victory for each man:
Key Wins: Jose Aldo (UFC 194), Nate Diaz (UFC 202), Eddie Alvarez (UFC 205), Chad Mendes (UFC 189), Dustin Poirier (UFC 178), Donald Cerrone (UFC 246)
Key Losses: Khabib Nurmagomdov (UFC 229), Nate Diaz (UFC 196)
Keys to Victory: The problem is not only that McGregor punches like his hands are made of cement. The greater issue is that he excels at creating collisions in pretty much any kickboxing scenario. McGregor can pressure foes into the fence and attack. He can stand in the center and rip beautiful combinations.
Worse still, McGregor’s counter punches are devastatingly accurate.
Last time McGregor fought Poirier, he pretty much had his way with the Louisiana slugger. McGregor got a read on his foe’s defense and angled a punch around his guard, and that was all she wrote.
Since then, Poirier has measurably improved his defense, so it may be more difficult to find that kill shot. McGregor’s best bet is to fluster Poirier, both with pressure and volume. Typically, Poirier responds to pressure and offense by firing back. Though he does stay composed, he still tends to commit to heavy swings, which could be just the opening necessary for McGregor to find his chin yet again.
Record: 26-6 (1)
Key Wins: Max Holloway (UFC 236), Justin Gaethje (UFC on FOX 29), Eddie Alvarez (UFC on FOX 30), Dan Hooker (UFC on ESPN 12), Anthony Pettis (UFC Fight Night 120), Joseph Duffy (UFC 195)
Key Losses: Khabib Nurmagomedov (UFC 242), Conor McGregor (UFC 178), Michael Johnson (UFC Fight Night 94), Chan Sung Jung (UFC on FUEL TV 3)
Keys to Victory: Poirier is a bruiser. He’s refined his boxing technique, defense, and weight distribution a great deal over the years, but all the same, Poirier thrives in grueling wars of attrition, where heart and power are most valuable.
Forcing such a fight on McGregor is the goal. Poirier does not want a technical boxing match; he wants an ugly battle of wills. That requires staying conscious past the opening ten minutes however, and McGregor is likely to do his damnedest to put Poirier down quickly.
It’s time for Poirier to return to his takedowns. McGregor is not such an fallible wrestler that he’ll fall to Poirier’s first attempt, but landing in the clinch is a win in itself. If Poirier is able to hang on the Irishman and force his arms to fill with blood, suddenly those heavy hands grow a bit slower.
Over time, Poirier can shift the exchanges into his favor. There is arguably none better than Poirier in rounds three, four, and five of a difficult fight — Poirier just has to get there.
This rematch over six years in the making has plenty on the line.
McGregor aims to capture the Lightweight title. At least, that’s the only reasonable explanation for chasing this fight. Dispatching a top-ranked former interim champion like Poirier erases all the time off and Welterweight excursions. It proves McGregor is one of the best Lightweights in the world right now and shows that he’s ready for a title shot immediately.
As for Poirier, one could hardly pick a more perfect opponent for “The Diamond.” Poirier and his hard-nosed fighting style deserve both the fame and paycheck that accompany fighting McGregor, and it also represents a chance to really demonstrate all the effort and growth of the previous six years.
Plus, if Poirier can pull through as the underdog, a title shot is all but assured.
Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 257 fight card right here, starting with the early ESPN+ “Prelims” matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 6:15 p.m. ET, then the remaining undercard balance on ESPN/ESPN+ at 8 p.m. ET, before the PPV main card start time at 10 p.m. ET on ESPN+ PPV.
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At UFC 257, Conor McGregor and Dustin Poirier will rematch in the main event. Which man will have his hand raised?