Set ups? Positioning? Nah, Justin Gaethje is just trying to hurt you.
That’s according to Dustin Poirier, who is still talking about leg kicks after a pair of lightweight bouts against Conor McGregor. Their UFC 257 headliner featured calf kicks from “The Diamond” that helped precipitate the demise of “Notorious.”
In their UFC 264 rematch, it was McGregor’s kicks that did most of the damage.
“I’ve been checked by a lot of heavy kickers, but never before have I left fight week and been sore on my actual bone, like my knee was sore,” Poirier said on American Top Team’s Punchin’ In podcast (transcribed by MMA Fighting). “Not my thigh or calf, my knee was sore.”
McGregor snapped his leg in the closing seconds of the opening frame, leading to a technical knockout loss and one of the most bizarre post-fight meltdowns in recent memory.
“There was one kick I turned my knee out a little bit,” Poirier continued. “I didn’t have my weight like a traditional check and I knew that was a bad one for him. I knew that one hurt bad. I think it was on top of his foot, but you never know if that could have caused torque on his shin bone and cracked it. I don’t know, he was throwing hard kicks, and a lot of them were hitting my knee. I didn’t get to traditionally check the kicks, but I did turn my knee out and it was bone-on-bone and it was worse for him.”
Poirier escaped his McGregor rematch without injury; however, the same can’t be said for his UFC on FOX 29 victory over Gaethje, which did not come without a price.
“He partially tore my quad,” Poirier said. “In the fight, him not caring about position, throwing kicks as hard as he can just to land them, not worrying about repercussions. No setups.”
His Gaethje win is part of an electric 8-1 streak (1 NC), one that is expected to land Poirier the next crack at UFC lightweight champion Charles Oliveira. As for “The Highlight,” he battles fellow action fighter Michael Chandler in November.