UFC 257: Poirier vs McGregor Preview & Prediction
By Cathal Geeney
Conor McGregor makes his return to the octagon against Dustin Poirier for the first UFC PPV of 2021 on Fight island, Abu Dhabi.
As has been the case for many, 2020 was a very frustrating year for McGregor. Coming off a 40 second victory over Donald Cerrone last January, the Irishman had spoken of how he was planning to fight multiple times before the year was out.
However, this wasn’t to be the case and instead, it was the controversies outside the octagon, such as his arrest and subsequent release in Corsica, his feud with Dana White and his short-lived MMA retirement, which have provided the major McGregor-related talking points.
This matchup with Dustin Poirier offers a welcome return to fighting and is exactly what the former two-weight champion needs right now. Stylistically, this is a fun rematch between two southpaw strikers.
Poirier is an accomplished fighter relying primarily on his boxing. He looks to a solid jab before following it up with big combinations. He is particularly effective at mixing his attacks to the head and body, looking for big lead hooks and his power left. The number two ranked lightweight will not allow his opponent to get comfortable and maintains the pressure, coming forward and landing shots in the pocket.
Poirier has proven that he can go the distance with his last two victories going five rounds against very tough opponents in Dan Hooker and Max Holloway. The thirty-two-year-old has taken a lot of damage along the way however, and will often take a shot to land one.
Even in his last fight with Dan Hooker, he was very nearly stopped before being saved by the bell in the second round. Coming forward with reckless abandon would not be an intelligent approach against someone with the power of McGregor.
Poirier’s willingness to engage in a brawl is a double-edged sword and he will surely need to make some adjustments and show a new found level of discipline if he is to be successful this weekend.
McGregor is also a striker with excellent timing, relying on his movement and footwork to manage the distance, whilst always ready to pull the trigger with his trademark left hand.
The SBG fighter is uniquely calm inside the octagon, waiting to land the right shot. In the first two rounds, there are few fighters in MMA history who are more exciting or dangerous. While the left hand is his main attack, McGregor demonstrated that he has plenty more weapons in his arsenal in his last outing. He landed shoulders in the clinch which caused damage before following up with a head kick which spelled the end for Cerrone.
In terms of weaknesses, McGregor’s cardio is often questioned as he has gassed out in the past. This is something which Poirier will be confident he can take advantage of by pressing the pace for five rounds.
These two fighters are both strikers who want to stand and exchange and I expect this bout to remain on the feet. Whilst Poirier has spoken about improving defensively, I am yet to see this translate into a well-rounded defensive display in the octagon.
Given the power and accuracy McGregor possesses, I can’t look past him for this one. His power was too much when they met over six years ago and I am predicting the same again, McGregor by stoppage.