Conor McGregor and Dustin Poirier have come a long way since they first locked horns inside the octagon in 2014. Both lightweights reached the pinnacle of their fighting careers before being dragged down by the 155-pound kingpin Khabib Nurmagomedov.
Ahead of their long-awaited bout at UFC 257, McGregor, as usual, is the main draw with millions of eyes keeping tabs on the Irish superstar. While Poirier has consistently graced the UFC octagon in the past four years, 'The Notorious' has failed to frequently clock into the ring at the same rate, which fuels the argument of "ring rust" going against the Irishman's favor.
But who are we kidding? Having seen McGregor climbing the ladder of success in the UFC in a never-before-seen style, plus his strong-willed character, evidence suggests that ring rust will barely affect the 32-year-old.
Still, emerging victorious against Poirier will not be a walk in the park for McGregor. Today, we take a look at five things that McGregor must do to avoid a loss at the hands of 'The Diamond'.
1. Conor McGregor should have a gas tank that lasts in the fourth and fifth rounds
Dustin Poirier has incessantly relied on stretching the fight to main event rounds where he only grows stronger. He has defeated Justin Gaethje, Max Holloway, and most recently, Dan Hooker in either the fourth or fifth round of the fight, which proves that Poirier cannot be toyed with in the final few minutes of the match.
If Conor McGregor goes the distance against Poirier, he must have a gas tank that lasts for well over three rounds. McGregor may not be able to deal with Poirier's insane cardio if he starts looking weathered going into the last two rounds.
2. Respect Dustin Poirier's wrestling skills
Conor McGregor needs to acknowledge that Dustin Poirier's grappling skills have developed tremendously, especially after his loss to Khabib Nurmagomedov.
The Diamond is a brown belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu and has significantly improved his wrestling. Interestingly, Poirier used moves opposite Dan Hooker which were quite identical to what Nurmagomedov used against him.
McGregor's coach John Kavanagh even stated that Poirier's guillotine choke is something that the Irishman will have to beware.
Although McGregor's takedown defense has always been sharp, he must not disregard Poirier's wrestling even though he is primarily known for his striking prowess.
3. Inflict damage on Dustin Poirier like never before
It has been over six years since Dustin Poirier was sent to the canvas by Conor McGregor in the first round, and the ability to endure severe damage is just one of the many things that Poirier has worked upon in those six years.
The Diamond will not bend easily against McGregor with his tough chin. He last fought the 32-year-old as a featherweight, and moving one weight class up has undoubtedly helped Poirier sustain damage.
That said, McGregor will have to hurt Poirier to tire him out, which will essentially slow him down and reduce his strike efficiency. However, one can argue that McGregor's striking precision may edge Poirier's ability to eat heavy punches.
4. Get in Dustin Poirier's head once again before it's too late
Conor McGregor has mostly been quiet ahead of his fight against Dustin Poirier, which was not the case when they fought in 2014.
Poirier admitted that one of the reasons he lost to McGregor was he let the Irishman into his head. The Notorious has always used his mind games as a tool to hold an edge over his opponents, and Poirier was no exception when they first met.
Ahead of the rematch, McGregor has quiet to the point of being respectful. If the Irishman decides to unleash his psychological warfare on Poirier once again, The Diamond may fall prey to McGregor's mind games.
However, Poirier has repeatedly stated that he will not make the same mistake of being emotionally charged once again.
5. Use his left-handed counterpunches with perfection
Conor McGregor's patented counterpunches from his left hand have been widely hailed in MMA. The likes of Jose Aldo, Eddie Alvarez, Nate Diaz and even Dustin Poirier have felt the power of his left hand, and The Notorious would certainly want to put it to good use come January 23 at UFC 257.
McGregor's left hand can put any opponent to sleep, and the same notion was echoed when he fought Khabib Nurmagomedov. Against Poirier, McGregor can unveil the brute-force of his left hand far more freely than he did opposite Nurmagomedov.
In an interview with MMA Junkie, Poirier admitted that McGregor is a great counterpuncher.
"His timing, his balance, his understanding of distance when guys are being too heavy on their front foot and throwing power shots. He’s a great counter puncher. He really is. I give him credit for that," said Poirier.Published 10 Jan 2021, 00:09 IST