Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Lightweight rivals Dustin Poirier and Conor McGregor will complete their trilogy TONIGHT (Sat., July 10, 2021) at UFC 264 inside T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.
I think, at this point, everyone reading this article pretty clearly understand the stakes of tonight’s main event match up, which are both significant and clearly defined. The third bout in the trilogy is, of course, for all the marbles, the bout that determines who reigns victorious following the completed rivalry. Furthermore, the victor will head off and chase the Lightweight title next. Personally, professionally, financially — there is much to be gained ... and much to lose.
Let’s take a closer look at the keys to victory for each man:
Record: 28-6 (1)
Key Wins: Conor McGregor (UFC 257), 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 combines the mentality of a brawler with the craft of a much more refined boxer. The Southpaw’s abilities to put together slick combinations and remain in position to counter have improved so much over the years, and both were pivotal in his last bout with McGregor.
“The Diamond” has stopped 13 of his opponents via knockout.
For the most part, Poirier game-planned perfectly for the first fight. He used his well-rounded skill set to extend the fight past round one, when McGregor is at his most dangerous. He punished McGregor’s stance with calf kicks, and Poirier’s check hook kept his opponent honest and did real work.
Indeed, it was A+ work from Poirier and his team on the tactical side of things.
Beyond expecting McGregor to be a bit more prepared for the weapons mentioned, Poirier has one significant adjustment to make: stay off the fence. McGregor backed him up a bit too easily for my liking, and though “The Diamond” was able to fire back and remain unrattled, it only takes a single clean connection for McGregor to undo all his other good work.
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: Dustin Poirier (UFC 257), Khabib Nurmagomdov (UFC 229), Nate Diaz (UFC 196)
Keys to Victory: Though recent results haven’t been great, McGregor is still one of the finest strikers in the sport. Carrying massive power in his left hand, the Irish athlete is majorly dangerous on both the lead and counter, and he has quite a wide variety of potential kill shots in his arsenal.
It is always easier for the defeated man to make adjustments prior to a rematch — the mistakes were clear. In McGregor’s case, his undoing began with the low kick. Poirier did real damage to McGregor’s calf, affecting his ability to pressure and throw powerful punches, which are arguably the most important aspects of McGregor’s game.
Whether he checks, catches or evades, those kicks must be addressed.
Otherwise, McGregor was finding good success in backing Poirier into the cage and landing hard shots, be it the left hand or his follow up stinging jab/uppercut. McGregor should look for similar opportunities in this bout, but he does have to be a bit more wary of hanging out in the pocket after throwing his left, which is how Poirier clipped him with the check hook.
In addition, I’d like to see McGregor finishing combinations with kicks. A hard low kick is a tremendous answer to the check hook, and if he can start to limit Poirier’s ability to counter, McGregor can really set himself up to tee off.
Poirier made the wise choice of taking a huge, guaranteed paycheck by fighting McGregor again rather than immediately pursuing the title. If, however, Poirier is successful in this third match and wins the trilogy, he’ll still find himself in a title fight next. In addition to building his legacy further with a second win over the “Notorious” legend, Poirier will have lost nothing in terms of the title picture.
Dustin Poirier vs. Charles Oliveira sounds like a whole lot of fun.
On the flip side, McGregor’s status as a potential Lightweight contender is really on the line here. Given his position as the sport’s biggest star, McGregor will always hold sway over the matchmaking, but even so, it seems unlikely that McGregor would find himself in a title fight following consecutive losses.
There’s a lot at stake, but fortunately, much to be gained as well. Victory tonight awards McGregor the trilogy, as well as a definite title shot at 155 pounds. For McGregor to effectively walk away from the sport and his titles only to return to Lightweight gold years later would really be one hell of a chapter in his already great resume.
Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 264 fight card right here, starting with the early ESPN+ “Prelims” matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 6 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 264, Dustin Poirier and Conor McGregor will clash in the main event. Which man will win their likely final bout?