UFC 264: Conor McGregor returns to the octagon this Sunday morning against Dustin Poirier as the pair complete their trilogy in front of a full house of fans in Las Vegas.
Between Euro 2020 and Wimbledon this weekend, you can be forgiven for not noticing that there’s a Conor McGregor fight to look forward to in the early hours of Sunday morning. The Irishman takes on Dustin Poirier in the third and final chapter of their trilogy, with the prospect of a title fight on the horizon for the winner. At the time of writing, Poirier is trading as a 1.77 favourite with McGregor available to be backed at 2.11.
Despite this being the third time these fighters will meet inside the UFC octagon, their first fight took place back in 2014 at UFC278 at a different weight class, so there’s little to be gained from focusing on that clash when looking for value this weekend. Their most recent meeting in January of this year is the best place to start.
At UFC 257, Poirier finished McGregor in the second round after stunting the UFC cash cow’s attacks through calf kicks to his lead leg. Once McGregor slowed down and began to hobble around the cage, the Louisiana native pounced and teed off on the former Champ-Champ, before referee Herb Dean intervened to stop the fight.
‘The Notorious’ had gotten off to a fast start, pushing the pace and landing powerful combinations, but he had no answer for the debilitating damage being dealt out to his right leg. He also couldn’t rely on the infamous mind games that had rattled Poirier in their earlier fight, evidenced by the fact Poirier laughed in his face after finding some success with punches of his own during the opening round.
McGregor has claimed he will adapt to that calf kick tactic and come back stronger for Sunday’s bout, in similar fashion to what he did for his rematch with Nate Diaz. That’s easier said than done, however. Since losing on that first night in 2014, Poirier moved straight up to 155lbs and in his fourteen fights since, has only suffered two defeats, at the hands of Khabib Nurmagamedov and Michael Johnson. Comparatively, McGregor has lost two of his three fights at lightweight, with that solitary win coming back in 2016. This will be the first time McGregor has had back-to-back fights at 155lbs without a two year hiatus.
On Sunday morning, those tuning in will be waiting to see how McGregor reacts should Poirier opt for a similar strategy as that which brought him great success back in January. But, ‘The Diamond’, a former Interim Lightweight Champion in his own right, has a lot more to his arsenal than just low kicks. He took McGregor down during the early exchanges in Abu Dhabi and don’t be surprised if we see that again this weekend.
Poirier is a more well-rounded and better conditioned fighter than McGregor, and he showed that last time out. His pedigree is undeniable, beating numerous champions and contenders in recent years, whilst McGregor was hopping between boxing Floyd Mayweather and jumping around weight classes. The American currently sits as the #1 ranked Lightweight fighter on the UFC roster behind champion Charles Oliveira. Meanwhile McGregor, despite his accolades of yester year, is down the pecking order at #5. Expect to see that difference in quality shine through on Sunday.
Back Dustin Poirier to win
‘Fight to go the Distance’ – NO -> https://bit.ly/PoirierMcGregor3