Conor McGregor squares off against Dustin Poirier at UFC 257 in what could be the biggest PPV of the year 2021. Sure, the year might have Israel Adesanya vs Jon Jones, but expecting that PPV to do "Conor PPV" numbers would be unfair. The fight could even have some championship implications around it as Khabib has made it clear that he won't be making a return to the octagon. Going into the bout there are many questions around both the fighters.
How focused is Conor McGregor going into the fight?
When it comes to Conor McGregor, his focus was never up for debate until he faced Khabib and got dominated. After that fight, the narrative changed to Conor not being motivated enough during the campaign and not training regularly during the camp.
It's hard to fault the guy either as he had just bagged a $100 million payday fighting Floyd Mayweather. He would indeed find it tough to motivate himself fighting for much less. Since then, though, it seems McGregor has changed his approach as he looked amazing in the fight against Donald Cerrone and was campaigning to fight again in 2020.
Going into the fight against Poirier, McGregor has trained consistently for more than a year and is raring to go. Is he focused? I guess it would be hard to think otherwise right now.
How much has Poirier made since the last encounter
McGregor and Poirier squared off against each other in UFC 178 with the former getting a TKO victory in the first round. The fight was at featherweight, and since then both have gone on to do great things in their careers. McGregor became a "Champ-Champ" by winning the belt at both featherweight and lightweight while Poirier has gone on to become the interim lightweight champion in his own right.
Unlike McGregor though, Poirier was severely compromised at featherweight as he had to cut a lot of weight to make 145 pounds. Ever since his move to lightweight Poirier has been the cream of the crop for the last few years. He's a much better version of a fighter at lightweight than he ever was at featherweight and it shows.
His performances and victories over the best in the division highlighted his toughness and strength. Has Poirier made improvements in his game since the last fight? He surely has. Will it be enough to turn the tide against McGregor this time around? We'll have to wait and see.
Who holds the edge?
The energy that McGregor brings to an arena is undeniable. To add to this, the mind games that he plays had sometimes won him a fight even before he stepped into the octagon.
Whenever you have a Conor McGregor fight, the intangibles are heavily in his favor most of the time. The problem with fighting during a pandemic is that the chances of having any spectators are remote. An empty arena's energy can never be the same as that of a stadium packed with people.
McGregor is not playing the mind games we're used to, preferring to act cordially with Poirier until now. Poirier had openly admitted that one of the biggest reasons behind his first loss to Conor was his inability to get past the mind games and the hype of a Conor Mcgregor fight. In Dustin's words, he fought angrily and paid the ultimate price.
With all these intangibles taken out of consideration, does it tilt the balance in the favor of Poirier? The answer is still no as McGregor holds a first-round knockout over Poirier and would be confident in his ability to do it again at UFC 257. If we had to give an edge to either of the fighters, we would have to give it to McGregor.
With championship implications likely to be attached to this fight, this has to be one of the most critical fights in the lightweight Division. Even though McGregor steps into this fight as the favorite, this fight will be a lot closer than the first one. UFC starts its 2021 with a bang with Conor McGregor on PPV, and we have to say, we can't wait for it all to begin.Published 06 Jan 2021, 22:37 IST