Conor McGregor vs. Dustin Poirier: The Second Act of what could be an Epic MMA Trilogy

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Andrius Petrucenia/Wikimedia Commons

McGregor (right), Dana White (middle) and José Aldo (left) in London as part of the World Tour promoting UFC 189 in March 2015. The Irishman’s loss to Poirier at UFC 257 was the first time he had been knocked out in his UFC career.

UFC 257 delivered an upset that shocked the ultimate fighting world. The much-anticipated fight between Irish fighter Conor McGregor and Louisiana-born Dustin Poirier ended with McGregor being knocked out for the first time in his UFC career. While less one-sided than the first matchup between these two, which saw Poirier knocked out in the first round, the 257 fight represents a long and hard-fought comeback for Poirier and a low point in the career of McGregor. This left many asking what will happen next for the Irish fighter whose name and image has become so attached to modern mixed martial arts. 

The fight appeared evenly-matched at the start. Both fighters landed several good hits in the first round and Poirier appeared to take more of a beating. The two grappled a little in the first round but neither fighter seemed to gain any edge, which makes sense as it appears that both prefer to rely on striking. However, after a few exchanges, Poirier’s strategy became clearer as he repeatedly focused a series of low kicks on McGregor’s leading right leg. By the end of round one, despite refusing to sit down, it was clear McGregor was feeling the pain. 

As the fight moved on to the second round, McGregor seemed to have caught onto Poirier’s strategy, catching a couple of kicks. However, it was too little too late; without his front leg to rely on, he couldn’t press the advantage. In between his catches, Poirier landed several more kicks, severely damaging McGregor’s leg. Poirier landed a series of punches to McGregor’s head and without a leg to stand on, McGregor went down and stayed down, marking the first KO of his UFC career.  

So what’s next for the former two-time champ? Although he had previously announced his retirement, it’s unclear if he has any plans to carry that out. In a post-fight interview, he praised Poirier for his victory but also stated that his inactivity during 2020 and 2019 had been a major factor in his loss. In addition, he alluded to a rematch, which he reiterated in a Tweet the next morning.

It is very likely we will see a final rematch between the two. If the current lightweight champ Khabib Nurmagomedov carries through on his plans for retirement, this fight may even be a lightweight championship match. If McGregor will fight, he will need to train and get back on his A-game before the rematch, in addition to overcoming any injuries he sustained to his leading leg. Championship match or not, the next fight between Poirier and McGregor will be one to remember as both now have a lot to prove against one and another.