In 27 pro fights, Conor McGregor has never lost back-to-back fights. At UFC 257 in January of this year, McGregor came back to the octagon after a year outside of the cage, losing via TKO for the first time in his career. In what was a blockbuster rematch between the Irishman and Dustin Poirier, built off of the paths their careers had taken since their first meeting, has turned into one of the biggest trilogies in UFC history. A loss for ‘The Notorious’ would give him just one win in his last four fights, making this a moment that McGregor has not been in before.
Due to the popularity of McGregor, his momentum is almost impossible to stop. He’s one of a kind in the way that a loss does very little to take away from his spotlight, but consecutive losses to Poirier would be a sizable hit. This fight is a massive must win for Conor if he is to stay in the lightweight title picture.
In their second fight, Poirier came in far more composed than in their first fight and this paid dividends as the fight progressed. Though he took a few shots from McGregor, he stayed focused and didn’t let it throw him off his gameplan. Undoubtedly the biggest aspect of the fight was Poirier’s leg kicks, repeatedly threatening the legs of his opponent allowed him to set up counters. With the last leg kick buckling McGregor’s lead leg, it allowed Poirier to pour on the pressure and time some perfect combinations to get the finish.
McGregor acknowledged this right after the fight in his instagram post. Giving Poirier plenty of credit, McGregor broke down his own performance in a similar way to how he did following his loss to Nate Diaz. Citing elements of the fight like his own inactivity in recent times, his over reliance on a boxing stance in the fight and experiencing the effect of leg kicks for the first time, a trilogy fight was clearly on the minds of both McGregor and Poirier.
A key difference between this fight and the last one is the relationship between the two of them. Going into their rematch, both men were incredibly respectful to each other but that tone has shifted. After some mixed words between the two regarding a donation McGregor said he would make to Poirier’s charity, the more aggressive McGregor has come out at points. This will be a big talking point during the week of the fight as to whether this makes any kind of difference like it did in their first fight where McGregor got inside the head of Poirier. From the outside looking in, this more mature and experienced version of ‘The Diamond’ will likely take this on the chin and go about his business as usual.
For Conor McGregor, it doesn’t take a UFC world champion or elite level coach to spot what he did wrong in their last meeting. Whenever the Irishman fights, there’s debate around has he still got that fire and can he still hang with the best in the world, this is the perfect time to prove it. If a chance at revenge and getting the last laugh in their trilogy can’t bring the now myth-like 2015-2016 McGregor back, there will be some big talking points surrounding his future in the octagon.
Conor McGregor vs Dustin Poirier 3 goes down on July 10th as the main event of UFC 264 at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.