Poirier (27-6-0, 1NC) won the most recent contest at UFC 257 in January in convincing fashion. After eating McGregor’s patented straight left hand in the first round, Poirier utilized the calf kick to disrupt the mobility of The Notorious One (22-5-0) and took a second-round TKO victory.
But we can’t forget McGregor’s September 2014 masterpiece that left Poirier defenceless on the canvas with strikes that forced referee Herb Dean to call the bout at 1:46 of the very first round.
The problem is that McGregor has not had a convincing victory over a top opponent in the octagon since winning the lightweight belt from Eddie Alvarez in 2016. A loss to Khabib Nurmagomedov in October 2018 and a win over an ageing Donald Cerrone in January 2020 have some fans wondering if the silk sheets and fortune generated from his boxing excursion with Floyd Mayweather Jr. in 2017 have taken their toll.
Then again, McGregor has proven in the past that he can respond when needed. He shook off the Nate Diaz submission loss five years ago and took a hard-won unanimous decision in the rematch. And the quick dismantling of prime Jose Aldo and intimidation of Alvarez remain key cornerstones of the McGregor era.
The big question: Is Conor McGregor hungry enough at this stage of his career?
Meanwhile, Poirier is trying to get to Conor’s level. Currently ranked No. 1 in the division, “The Diamond” turned back Anthony Pettis, Justin Gaethje, Alvarez, then fended off featherweight champion Max Holloway in April 2019 to become the interim lightweight champion. A failed unification bout with Nurmagomedov in September 2019 is his only blemish in the last six contests. Last year’s fight-of-the-year contender with Dan Hooker is still fresh in the minds of many fans.
On paper, Poirier seems to be the hungrier fighter with more to gain and lose. A loss to McGregor Saturday sends Poirier back to the drawing board with a thud. He knows he needs nothing less than a big win to elevate him to the A-side.
It’s only fitting that Conor McGregor stands in the way of the elevation of Dustin Poirier.
The third contest will tell the tale.
In the Clinch – All eyes on UFC 264’s Dustin Poirier and Conor McGregor – Resources
- Secondary Market Pricing – Conor McGregor
- Secondary Market Pricing – Dustin Poirier
- UFC 264 Event Page – Saturday July 10th, 10pm EDT