It ceaselessly will get misplaced within the hoopla amid all of his chatter through the pre-fight build-up, however it’s necessary to do not forget that Conor McGregor is excess of hype and bluster.
He’s the most effective fighters on the earth; the most effective ever, truly. And good fighters of their primes who’ve ready diligently and tried to cowl each angle have misplaced to him. McGregor doesn’t win simply because he has a fast wit and is sweet at trash speaking.
He’s bought quick palms and ft, nice stability and an instinctive really feel for how one can transfer within the cage. The definition of greatness is thrashing different nice fighters at their finest, and McGregor has completed that time and again.
He did that already to the person he’ll struggle on Saturday in the principle occasion of UFC 257, former interim light-weight champion Dustin Poirier. Poirier was 25, within the prime of his profession with a 16-Three file that included a win over Max Holloway when he first met McGregor on Sept. 27, 2014.
Poirier was ranked fifth at featherweight on the time, whereas McGregor was ninth. However McGregor won the fight in Las Vegas in just 106 seconds.
They’ll meet once more six-plus years in a while Saturday at Etihad Area in Abu Dhabi with way more at stake. The winner will transfer on to struggle for the UFC light-weight championship in his subsequent bout, either against champion Khabib Nurmagomedov or another challenger for the vacant belt if Nurmagomedov stays retired.
The build-up, because it often is, is all about McGregor, however that overlooks one very vital reality:
It’s a vastly completely different Dustin Poirier who will meet McGregor on Saturday than the man who admittedly let the trash discuss get to him in 2014.
“I do assume it’s a chance,” mentioned light-weight contender Dan Hooker when requested if he felt Poirier might defeat McGregor. Hooker, who misplaced a Struggle of the Yr-type resolution to Poirier in June, fights ex-Bellator champion Michael Chandler within the co-main occasion.
He made the purpose that McGregor had higher be ready for an improved Poirier.
“I believe that one is up within the air,” Hooker mentioned of McGregor-Poirier II. “It’s undoubtedly not going to be how the primary struggle performed out. Dustin has grown a lot and I really feel prefer it’s a special fighter at this weight. I really feel he’s one of many extra sturdy guys within the division and has an unimaginable fuel tank. They match up very nicely, a really quick starter versus a man who can climate that early storm and who can come again.
“I really feel it’s going to go the total 5 rounds. I really feel it’s going to be an in depth struggle and it’s arduous to choose a winner.”
Step one to correcting an issue is recognizing it, and Poirier clearly understands he bought caught up in all of the hype going into the primary struggle. It took him out of his plan and he didn’t struggle like he’d usually completed.
McGregor was calm, assured and environment friendly, harm him early and chopped him down.
However Poirier has developed vastly. Since he fought McGregor, he’s overwhelmed a who’s who of a number of the best UFC fighters of the earlier decade, together with Anthony Pettis, Justin Gaethje, Eddie Alvarez, Holloway and Hooker.
All however Hooker have held a UFC championship sooner or later of their careers, and Poirier defeated all of them, profitable two by KO and one by submission.
He understands what went flawed within the first struggle and now has the instruments to deal with it. The distinction within the 25-year-old Poirier and the 32-year-old veteran Poirier is stark.
“I’m extra mature, extra expert, extra battle-tested, extra affected person,” Poirier mentioned to Yahoo Sports activities of the variations between the 2014 and 2021 variations of himself. “There’s lots that’s modified.”
The struggle recreation is so psychological, and it’s much more so when one faces an iconic opponent like McGregor. In 2009, a film was launched known as, “Going through Ali,” during which a lot of Ali’s opponents, like Joe Frazier, George Foreman and Larry Holmes, focus on what it was like combating him.
These fights require not solely unimaginable bodily talents to win, however psychological expertise, as nicely. If Poirier had a weak spot in 2014, it was being sucked into McGregor’s world. Clearly, it’s one thing he’s addressed within the interim.
“I felt from that struggle I wanted to make an adjustment with my feelings and the best way I lead into these fights,” he mentioned.
Poirier is aware of now that he doesn’t get something additional for profitable in 30 or 45 or 90 seconds. All that issues is getting his hand raised.
McGregor’s weak spot has lengthy been his sturdiness. He hasn’t been the identical man within the second half of fights that he has been within the first half.
Poirier is the other. He’s a gritty, powerful and sensible man who, as Hooker mentioned, is as sturdy as anybody within the UFC.
It’s pretty apparent how a lot better and extra harmful Poirier is now than he was in 2014, however McGregor continues to be one of many best. There isn’t a argument about Poirier’s enchancment, however McGregor might nonetheless win this struggle as a result of that’s what elite superstars do.
However if you happen to can be shocked by a Poirier win, right here’s a phrase to the clever:
Don’t be. Poirier is sweet sufficient to win this struggle and if you happen to don’t consider it, look what he’s completed since 2014.
If wins over Gaethje, Alvarez and Holloway aren’t sufficient to persuade you, nothing will.
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