Conor McGregor was soundly beaten by Dustin Poirier little than six months ago. That doesn't look similar capable clip for the Irish superstar to spot each the holes Poirier punched successful his game.
When they implicit their rivalry trilogy Saturday nighttime (Sunday AEST) successful the main lawsuit of UFC 264, Poirier (27-6) enters the cage arsenic a better-rounded, much tested combatant than McGregor (22-5), who is competing successful mixed martial arts for lone the 4th clip successful astir 5 years.
Yet McGregor's famed punching powerfulness — and the world's representation of his meteoric emergence done his athletics — stay tantalizing capable to make uncertainty successful the minds of millions of combat fans. McGregor has done the improbable before, and he'll astir apt ne'er suffer the quality to stoke his fans' imaginations.
"This is my breadstuff and butter," McGregor said. "This is what wakes maine up successful the greeting with occurrence successful my belly. ... I emotion to travel successful here, defy the odds, bash the unthinkable and enactment connected a show."
That sounds somewhat similar the aged Conor, the erstwhile plumber who conquered the MMA satellite with 2 dense hands and an unmatched acquisition of gab.
But volition the aforesaid antheral get retired of his luxury car astatine T-Mobile Arena? Can a self-described "fat-cat" multimillionaire instrumentality to his feral, ferocious signifier for different electrifying victory?
Poirier knows the anticipation exists, and it's crushed capable to ticker the decision to this three-fight epic that began with McGregor's first-round knockout of Poirier successful 2014 and continued with Poirier's second-round stoppage of McGregor successful Abu Dhabi.
"I person a steadfast fearfulness going into each fight," Poirier said. "I cognize the dangers. I cognize what this feline tin do."
The victor of the main lawsuit gets the adjacent lightweight rubric changeable against champion Charles Oliveira, according to UFC President Dana White.
UFC 264 is co-headlined by a bout betwixt erstwhile welterweight rubric challengers Gilbert Burns and Stephen "Wonderboy" Thompson. The pay-per-view paper besides includes a heavyweight matchup betwixt Tai Tuivasa and erstwhile NFL subordinate Greg Hardy, portion the undercard is topped by welterweights Carlos Condit and Max Griffin.
Anyone who saw UFC 257 past January knows however comfortably Poirier handled McGregor's strengths. In the rematch, McGregor indispensable either bash his happening overmuch better, oregon helium indispensable accommodate and germinate — thing helium hasn't done successfully implicit the past 5 years.
Poirier highlighted weaknesses and exploited opportunities successful the brash, pugnacious attack that made McGregor the biggest sanction successful combat sports. Patiently implementing his crippled plan, Poirier battered McGregor with achy limb kicks earlier finishing him with fists, stopping the erstwhile two-division UFC champion connected punches for the archetypal clip successful McGregor's career.
McGregor had a coagulated archetypal circular connected his feet, but helium did it portion utilizing a much accepted boxing stance, not the karate-influenced attack that made him truthful unpredictable earlier successful his career. McGregor showed an inability oregon unwillingness to cheque Poirier's limb kicks successful that stance until aboriginal successful the fight, which inevitably meant McGregor's close limb was beaten into achy uselessness.
McGregor's coaches person said helium volition set to the kicks, and helium mightiness adjacent crockery retired much of his own, arsenic helium did against Nate Diaz a half-decade ago. Improving his aggression could pb to much counterpunching opportunities for McGregor, who thrives connected them.
McGregor is nary alien to crossroads moments, but this two-bout bid with Poirier could specify what's near successful the singular vocation of a combatant who turns 33 adjacent Wednesday.
If helium loses again, McGregor's much cogent supporters would beryllium forced to admit helium has go much of a spectacle combatant than a title contender. He'll ne'er deficiency for big-time spotlights and consenting opponents, but helium besides would beryllium excused for retiring for a 4th clip — and for really sticking to it this time.
But if McGregor someway wins, his adjacent bout would beryllium for a title. He would beryllium backmost successful morganatic contention for an grant that isn't built connected his past achievements.
Poirier is taking his ain measurement backward to determination forward: He could person waited for the rubric changeable astatine Oliveira, who lone won the 155-pound loop successful May. Instead, Poirier agreed to this highly lucrative trilogy combat with the evident hazard of a nonaccomplishment that would derail his hopes of winning an undisputed rubric belt.
Even aft McGregor baited and berated Poirier passim their last quality league Thursday, Poirier is assured helium made the close determination to decorativeness the task of erasing different swath of McGregor's mystique.
"It's conscionable business," Poirier said. "I spot a antheral here. ... It's a fight, and I bushed him (last time). What's his excuse going to beryllium connected Saturday?"