Dubai: Dustin Poirier and Conor McGregor will fight a third for the undisputed title of world featherweight champion after the American scored a lopsided victory at UFC 257 in Abu Dhabi on Sunday morning.
Given the fact that the UFC’s focus is on its international audience it was strange to stage a fight of this stature early in the morning at the state-of-the-art Etihad Arena on Yas Island, but it wasn’t coffee that woke-up fans in the UAE but it was the explosiveness that both Poirier and McGregor brought to the Octagon.
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McGregor started strong putting Poirier on the defence. The trademark left-hook was employed at will but it did not have the same venom that accounted for the American in the first round of the 2014 fight.
Poirier took them all, willing his famous rival to show what he’s really got and McGregor responded through lefts and rights from his trademark wide stance. But it was Poirier who was steadily finding the range with his precision kicks to the lead leg and calf.
When McGregor got off his bench for the second round it was clear that his movement and confidence had been compromised due to a badly banged up leg. The end came soon as Poirier unleashed a barrage of powerful left hooks and punches to McGregor’s head that dropped him to the canvas and forced referee Herb Dean to come to the Irishman’s rescue.
It was a pitiable sight to see a totally broken McGregor huddled up against the side of the cage like a lost hobo as Poirier walked around the ring, hands raised, as his wife, Jolie, screamed from outside the ring: “I told you!”
This was not the McGregor we knew. Once, one of the most feared fighters on the planet, he now looked a pale shadow of the iron man that he was.
“I just wasn’t as comfortable as I needed to be. It’s the inactivity,” the Irishman said in his post-fight interview.
“I have to dust it off and come back and that’s it. And that’s what I will do. I’ve put in a lot of work, I’m proud of my work, I would have liked to represent my team a bit better.”
Poirier called out for a third fight to complete the trilogy, which McGregor would accept, as did UFC supremo, Dana White.
After the fight Poirier openly admitted that his nerves had got the better of him before the five-round contest but that he felt “in the moment once the lights hit him.”
“I don’t know how many fights I have left, but when I walk away, I’d love to be the world champion. I’ve put in all the work. I’ve done everything you can do in this sport except raise that undisputed world title in the air and that’s what I want to do.”