The current BT Sports MMA analyst and color-commentator made an in-depth analysis of Conor McGregor's movements inside the octagon and how he forces his challengers to enter his game with it.
UFC 257: Conor McGregor versus Dustin Poirier 2 happens on January 23, in Abu Dhabi. UFC 257 will be the promotion's third event in 2021, the other two also taking place at UFC's Fight Island.
How can Conor McGregor beat Dustin Poirier again?
When asked to explain in detail how Conor McGregor uses his power-hand to guide his opponents to the corner, Hardy noted that the approach adopted by 'The Notorious' is his most noticeable trait. Hardy previously called this a 'choke point' in his War Room YouTube breakdown.
Besides the pressing strategy, Conor McGregor also uses his right hand as bait, according to Hardy, to deceptively attack with the left. The Irishman lures his adversaries by creating an "invisible wall," marking the distance with right-hand punches that are not in McGregor's full range but seem to be.
The retired UFC welterweight title contender-turned-analyst exemplified Conor McGregor's behavior in the cage with both older and more recent fights.
"The majority of the time, McGregor knocks people out when they're moving away from him, and they are up against the fence. There are clear applications of it. You have the (Jose) Aldo, the Ivan Buchinger (from Cage Warriors), and the Eddie Alvarez finishes where he tempts them, they come at him, and then he counters with the left," examined Hardy. "Then you've got the (Diego) Brandao, (Chad) Mendes, (Dennis) Siver fights, where he's circling them into that 'choke point.' And I think that's the difference between the 90-degree angle of a boxing ring and the additional 45 degrees you get in an octagon. I think McGregor has a pattern: he forces them into that corner, and if he doesn't knock them out, they circle away, so he just cuts the cage and resets it. He can continue to put opponents in that cycle. If Poirier moves in the opposite direction, then McGregor will have to change his game. That might force McGregor to the center a bit and allow him to come forward."
Regarding their first bout back in UFC 178, Hardy believes that Dustin Poirier had the right attitude to dismantle Conor McGregor's gameplan.
Poirier did not follow the expected movement of circling away from Conor McGregor's left hand; instead, 'The Diamond' was going against it. However, his efforts were in vain since he could not get away from 'Mystic Mac's' left hand.
"In the last fight, he tried to do the right thing. Because they're both southpaws, the smart thing to do is always to circle away from the power hand of your opponent. But if you watch that finish, Poirier was actually circling towards McGregor's left hand. If I showed that to a boxing guy, he would look at that and go, 'that's because he was circling the wrong way.' In actuality, I think he was doing it the correct way. I think he was doing that intentionally because he realized the pattern of McGregor's left hand.
How can Dustin Poirier stop Conor McGregor?
So, how can a fighter avoid this "choke point" that Conor McGregor aggressively imposes? Well, Dan Hardy has the answer. The analyst believes that Dustin Poirier has to break the Irishman's cycle by forcing him to the octagon's centre with kicks.
Although Poirier is an accomplished boxer himself, Hardy believes that it would be better if he does not test his striking against Conor McGregor - at least in the first few minutes.
"Poirier has got to use his footwork. He's got to be on his toes. He's got to cut into McGregor's lead leg (with kicks) and not engage. He's got to see McGregor as a faceless opponent. Poirier can't get drawn into the emotional side of it because then he's going to want to throw hands," considered Hardy. "If he can be strategic and land one or two calf kicks, that can really change McGregor's game. That not only is going to buy him time in the first few minutes, but it will also slow McGregor down, take his mobility away and take away a lot of the power from his left hand. Then, that's when Poirier can start to put the foot on the gas and start to diversify and attack a bit. And I wouldn't be surprised if he forces McGregor to grapple. I think the physical presence of McGregor is going to be a factor though."
BT Sport Box Office will show UFC 257: Poirier vs. McGregor 2 exclusively live from 3 am on Saturday, January 23. UFC 257 can be watched on BT TV, Virgin TV, Sky, online via the web, or the BT Sport Box Office App and is available to buy at ww.bt.com/sportboxoffice.