Conor McGregor is easily the biggest name in MMA. The man transcended the sport and grew into a global icon in a relatively short period of time. Part of it was his cocky attitude and bravado, and part of it was his ability to back it up with incredible stand-up skills.
'Notorious' is one of the best counter-punchers in the sport's history, with a left cross that's as heavy as they come. He proved this by dropping featherweight legend Jose Aldo and ending the fight in 13 seconds. After that, he beat Eddie Alvarez to become the first champ-champ in UFC history.
The legend of his striking skills grew so much that he made his professional boxing debut against none other than Floyd Mayweather Jr.
Following his bout with Alvarez in 2016, though, Conor McGregor has been very sparse with his Octagon activities. He's fought only thrice since, the first being his loss to Khabib Nurmagomedov at UFC 229 in 2018. His next appearance was in 2020 at UFC 246, where he secured a 40-second TKO of Donald Cerrone at welterweight.
Conor McGregor's last outing was at UFC 257 where he faced former interim lightweight champion Dustin Poirier. In what was a shock to many, Poirier handed McGregor the first TKO loss of his career.
Experts and analysts credited Poirier's expert game plan, which involved multiple calf kicks. While this obviously played a role, was it just the calf kicks or was Conor McGregor out-struck on the feet as well?
Round 1 - Conor McGregor vs Dustin Poirier
Let's look at how the fight played out. In Round 1, both men came out looking confident, trying to gage the other and find their rhythm. McGregor pressed forward as he usually does and landed some good shots. His counter-left cross is among the best in the game. Poirier knew this all too well, having been knocked out in 40 seconds the first time they fought.
While 'The Diamond' was actively on the lookout for that heavy left, he did still get clipped on the chin. Poirier even admitted in the post-fight press conference that the shot hurt him.
However, the 155-pound Poirier is a different beast compared to the 145-pound featherweight who fought 'Notorious' at UFC 178. He took Conor McGregor's precise cross and was still standing. This gave him the confidence to keep moving forward. He even played extremely smart by securing a takedown and controlling 'Notorious' on the ground for nearly 2 minutes.
Many awarded Round 1 to Conor McGregor, but if you look at the official UFC stats, you will be surprised. Dustin Poirier landed 17 significant strikes to Conor McGregor's 15. While 'Notorious' landed 12 head strikes to Poirier's 8, 'The Diamond' definitely outdid McGregor both on the feet and with the takedown.
Conor McGregor vs Dustin Poirier - Round 2
Conor McGregor pushed forward with some success in the second round despite the compromised leg. He landed shots on Poirier while slipping away from the incoming offense.
However, 'The Diamond' was beginning to find his rhythm. Reading McGregor's movements and combinations much better, he displayed his own evasive movement and defense.
Dustin Poirier is one of the best boxers on the current UFC roster, he's proved it time and again. If you've watched Poirier fight, you know that when he finds his rhythm, he has some of the fastest hands in the business. We've seen this repeatedly in the fights against Justin Gaethje and Dan Hooker. The same thing happened at UFC 257; once he began to get into his groove, Poirier landed multiple shot combinations on a severely compromised Conor McGregor.
After taking away whatever energy McGregor had left, 'The Diamond' pressured forward. Soon, 'Notorious' crumbled against the cage as his leg buckled and Poirier finished the job. Despite landing some good shots, Conor McGregor managed only 14 significant strikes compared to Dustin Poirier's 31.
'The Diamond' landed double the head strikes compared to his opponent as well: 22 to McGregor's 11. His leg attacks also totalled 9 in each round.
While the calf kicks did play a significant role, they weren't the only reason for Poirier's victory. He outboxed and out-struck Conor McGregor throughout the fight.
Dustin 'The Diamond' Poirier has come a very long way as a fighter, having evolved and grown with each bout.The trilogy between these two men is in the works for July 10 and, like the rest of the MMA world, we are very excited to see what happens next.