UFC 257 was supposed to be a set up for Conor McGregor’s return to UFC lightweight title contention, but instead it ended halfway through round two with McGregor knocked out on the canvas and his opponent Dustin Poirier victorious (see the highlights here). New plans are already afoot: Poirier may face fellow UFC 257 winner Michael Chandler for the 155-pound belt, barring the miraculous return of recently retired champ Khabib Nurmagomedov.
So where does that leave McGregor? Hungry and ready to come back and fight again, apparently.
Immediately after the loss, McGregor blamed the lack of cage time for his loss. At the post-fight press conference, you could see the wheels turning in his head as he fixated on the calf kicks that slowed him down and led to him getting knocked out.
“That low one is a very interesting kick,” McGregor said. “Same stance, opposite stance it’s nothing ... but the outside ones were wrapping around. Even though I felt like I turned the leg out and checked it, you have to almost turn it right around, it has to hit the bone and not the muscle. And that’s it. Me and Dustin, now, we’re 1-1. For sure we’ll go again.”
“I’ll certainly regroup,” he said when asked about what was next. “I’ll regroup and pick myself up off the floor and go again and that’s it. Styles make fights, there are many great stylistic matchups out there. Me and Dustin are 1-1, myself and Nate are 1-1. There are many good matchups for me and I’ll adopt a different approach for a trilogy with Dustin because those leg kicks are not to be messed with.
“That calf kick. I’ve never experienced that, and it’s a good one. It’s not that I don’t have the style in me to switch it up and keep that at bay. I’ve a lot more weapons I didn’t get to show. It wasn’t my night. Wasn’t a great night.”
“My leg is completely dead. Even though I felt like I was checking them, they were just sinking into the muscle at the front of the leg and it was badly compromised. It’s like an American football in my suit at the moment. So it is what it is. Dustin fought a hell of a fight. Engaged in the takedown. Thought I did well. Got up and turned him. I was in my head thinking ‘Just tie up.’ I felt good in the clinch, thought I was better than him in the clinch. But it was too little too late. The leg was compromised and I didn’t adjust. And that’s it. Fair play to Dustin and I’m very happy for him.”
“I felt well stronger than him,” he continued. “Well stronger. Maybe I’ll switch up my game the next time I fight Dustin. Maybe you’ll see a grappling side of me the next time me and Dustin go ahead. I just have to keep going and be able to go through the disciplines seamlessly and make the correct decisions in there. And that will only come with time in the Octagon. You can do a billion rounds outside, but without time inside the Octagon, live. It’s a hard thing to do. Got away with it the last while but not tonight.”
So McGregor made it very clear: he would return as soon as the swelling in his leg muscle allowed. And don’t think he is giving up on winning back the UFC lightweight title.
“I would like to get in and get back on the horse and secure the new belt with the Irish flag on it, for sure,” he said. “And anything can happen in this business so long as you stay active, so long as you compete. Things shape around you. You show up and you reap the rewards, and that’s it. That’s what happened for Dustin tonight, and what happened against me tonight. So I’ll keep my eye on the prize, for sure.”
For complete UFC 257 results and coverage click here.