UFC 257 scheduled for January 24 will mark the return of MMA’s biggest star, Conor “The Notorious” McGregor (26 wins – 4 losses). At the Etihad Arena, on the Yas Island of Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates, the Irishman will face the American Dustin “The Diamond” Poirier (26 wins – 6 losses – 1 without a decision), in lightweight (- 70 kilos).
There are men who have gone beyond their sport and the framework of connoisseurs of their disciplines, in order to rise to a level of superstar. McGregor is the perfect example. Being an elite fighter is not enough to achieve that status – Demetrious Johnson and Fedor Emelianenko will testify – and the Irishman has understood that very well. Businessman, showman and sometimes megalomaniac, McGregor unleashes the crowds at every exit. His fights are always colossal events, and next Sunday, he will return to the octagon against Dustin Poirier.
The Notorious knows Poirier quite well, having already beaten him in September 2014. At the time, the two men aged 25 and 24 were two potential youngsters, in featherweight (-66 kilos). McGregor had as usual taunted his opponent when promoting the fight. In the cage, Poirier had crashed into a counter from the Irishman, then a jab-cross hit him, before collapsing on a hook caught on the top of the head. In 1 minute and 46 seconds, McGregor defeated the American.
Recently interviewed by Theo Von, Dustin Poirier will say about this fight: “I couldn’t even fight the first time. The fight hadn’t even really started, but it’s sport: anything can happen, anytime, in the spotlight ”.
An identical scenario for the second round?
In just over 6 years, a lot has happened and the fighters are not the same. Conor McGregor went on to become UFC fly and lightweight champion, boxing fighter, twice retired and regular at police stations. For his part, Dustin Poirier became interim lightweight champion. The Diamond has seen the greatest progression since, radically changing its style. After his loss, Poirier gave up his identity as a “brawler” in order to become more efficient. He changed his defense, using the left side of his guard the “Shoulder Roll”, a technique that involves blocking hits with his shoulder, like Floyd Mayweather. Then, with his right elbow, raised very high, the American tries to ward off the blows on the other side.
However, facing a southpaw like Conor, it will be difficult to use that shoulder roll. McGregor’s left arm will be able to come from different angles and will be difficult to contain. Because in normal times, Poirier’s elbow is used to control the opposing jab. For the Irishman, this revenge will be even more expeditious: “I love Poirier I think he’s a great fighter. But being a “big” is always several levels below me. I’m going to KO Dustin in 60 seconds, ”he said in a clip from the UFC 257 Countdown.
McGregor repeats that he will finish Poirier very quickly because it is simply his identity. He is an outstanding finisher, explosive and very powerful. His style is perfect during the first two rounds, then he starts to tire and his strengths diminish. The Diamond knows it and plans to take advantage of it: “If you talk about strategy, what I want is that we both dripped blood, and that we suffer, and still suffer, early in the fight. This will allow us to see who the real fighter is. That’s what I want. I want to bleed in the first minute of the first round ”. Poirier is a “diesel” who could benefit from a long 25-minute fight, which he loves. He’ll surely want to exhaust McGregor with some melee streaks, high pace and extended rallies.
A victory = revenge against Khabib?
On January 16, for the UFC premiere on ABC (national TV), Dana White revealed that retired Khabib Nurmagomedov allegedly told her, “I’m going to watch the lightweight fight at UFC 257. If these guys do anything. spectacular and make me want to come back to fight, I will fight ”. Following this, McGregor said in an interview with ESPN: “I think he’s scared to fight me. For sure. I do not blame him. I fought the best Khabib that night, he fought the worst Conor that night. He knows it. I know that. His team knows it. I have the answer to destroy this man. He cannot fool people indefinitely ”.
Could McGregor’s impressive win bring champion Khabib back? It is surely the wish of the Irishman who still hopes to win his revenge. For this, it will be necessary to get rid of the formidable Dustin Poirier in an almost empty room, without Irish fans to support him. The Notorious hoped the Etihad Arena would be completely empty – there will be 2,000 fans – so the sound of his hits could shock spectators behind their screens. “I would have loved that,” he said. There are going to be a few thousand fans, but my power will always be heard. It will be as if there is no one in the arena ”.
McGregor was coming out of retirement on January 18, 2020 to take on Donald Cerrone (40-second KO win) and marked the debut of the UFC-ESPN + contract for Pay-Per-View (PPV) purchases. The purchase of the evening required at the time a subscription (ESPN + increased to $ 60 / year, + 20%) of one year to the chain of the Disney group. A year later, these subscriptions ended and it was therefore McGregor who returned to the octagon. Note an increase of $ 5 for PPVs which go to $ 70.
Conor has said on several occasions that he plans to fight at least three times in 2020 but ESPN has decided otherwise. He is therefore back in this year 2021 to relaunch the UFC machine and to prove that he is still competitive: “I will come back and prove it. I will prove with my performance. And you know time will show that I’m still going up to the top and the world is about to see it ”.
It only remains to wait for the two men to enter the cage – around 6 am – to know the outcome of this fight. Poirier will try to spoil the party and McGregor will want to counter him with power, as he knows how to do. Conor has promised a “masterpiece”, which Dustin will try to turn into failure.