Conor McGregor suffered the first knockout loss of his career against Dustin Poirier in the main event of UFC 257. 'The Diamond' sent shockwaves around the world of MMA when he sent the Irishman to the canvas with a flurry of punches, forcing Herb Dean to halt the fight.
McGregor cited inactivity as the reason behind his loss. The former two-division champ has a good deal of adjustments to make if he wants to emerge victorious in the trilogy fight against Poirier. According to McGregor's coach, John Kavanagh, the 32-year-old UFC superstar is looking to share the octagon with Poirier for the third time in May of this year.
The Irishman's shocking loss to Poirier made many fans grow suspicious of his ability to hang in with the best, just like the time when Nate Diaz handed him his first promotional loss in 2016.
In this article, we will look at five changes that The Notorious should make if you are hoping for the real Conor McGregor to please stand up.
1. Conor McGregor needs to lose his boxing stance
Conor McGregor was predominantly seen using a conventional boxing stance against Dustin Poirier with one of his shoulders leaning forward to catch Poirier with counter punches. And while he succeeded in that to a certain extent, it also cost him the virtuosity of moving freely and continually bouncing back and forth - something he usually did with a karate stance.
The first time McGregor locked horns with Poirier in 2014, he used traditional karate/taekwondo footwork to move forwards and backwards consistently. This style can essentially help him avoid low calf kicks - Poirier's prime weapon in the rematch that saw him edge past the Irishman. We must note that it is difficult to check the calf kicks while using a karate stance, but it provides the freedom of movement.
Even in his regular boxing stance, McGregor was not able to check Poirier's low kicks perfectly, which The Diamond rightly acknowledged after the fight.
"I started kicking through his check because he wasn’t checking correctly. It was still the muscle part of his calf and he wasn’t turning his shin all the way outward so it wasn’t shin to shin," Poirier told ESPN.
In order to move freely, McGregor will also need to maintain a gas tank that lasts longer, which takes us to the second adjustment that he needs to make.
2. Conor McGregor must improve his cardio
Conor McGregor will need to improve his cardio if he fights Dustin Poirier for the third time. Regardless of what stance he chooses to adapt, a long-lasting gas tank is something that every fighter needs when sharing the octagon with Poirier.
The Diamond is well known for his ability to grow stronger in the later rounds of his fights, which was clearly seen when he defeated Max Holloway, Justin Gaethje, and Dan Hooker. Several pundits even counted out McGregor ahead of UFC 257, noting that the Irishman would lose if Poirier stretched the fight to main event rounds.
Should McGregor switch back to a karate/taekwondo stance, he must improve his cardio if he wants to survive five rounds against Poirier.
3. Conor McGregor needs to enhance his grappling skills
One of the areas in which Dustin Poirier has significantly improved over the past six years is his wrestling prowess, especially after he lost to Khabib Nurmagomedov. The Diamond is known to have a scathing guillotine choke that he even used against the Dagestani fighter.
Poirier waded in early to land an easy takedown on Conor McGregor in the first round of their rematch. He deftly took the Irishman down and caught him in a clinch for a substantial time that must have tired out McGregor.
Although McGregor was able to reverse positions and hold Poirier in a clinch, it was not enough for The Notorious to cause him any trouble. At the post-fight press conference, the former two-division champ teased that we may see more of his grappling side if he fights Poirier again.
4. Conor McGregor should brush aside the idea of fighting Manny Pacquiao for a while
It became clearly evident that the thought of fighting Manny Pacquiao was lingering around Conor McGregor's mind after he largely relied on his boxing approach against Dustin Poirier.
Interestingly, the 32-year-old accepted that he was only fighting Poirier in the lead-up to his imminent clash with the legendary boxer from Philippines. Since Poirier is a southpaw, McGregor wanted to put his boxing skills to test before fighting another southpaw in Pacquiao, and that significantly reduced his chances of getting the better of The Diamond.
Now that his fight against Pacquiao is presumably off the table, McGregor should merely focus on embellishing his overall MMA skills, which may help him earn his revenge against Poirier in their trilogy fight.
5. Conor McGregor needs to get away from the cage when facing Dustin Poirier
When Dustin Poirier was able to push Conor McGregor against the cage in the second round, it was clear that The Diamond might catch the Irishman with his devastating right hook anytime soon. And he did.
Poirier has mastered everything that it takes to come out on top in an explosive brawl - often referred to as "dog fight" - and when he finds his opponents up against the cage, Poirier unleashes a barrage of heavy leather.
With the cage behind a fighter's back, the chances of evading strikes are significantly limited, which puts him at risk when the opponent is wreaking havoc with a flurry of punches.
McGregor could not move away from the cage since Poirier had already damaged the peroneal nerve of his right leg, forcing the Irishman to appear motionless on his feet. If McGregor fights Poirier for the third time, sneaking away from the cage might favor the former two-division champion to a certain extent.