UFC 264: Poirier Beats McGregor Again
The ending might have been extremely anti-climactic, but for 5 minutes Dustin Poirier and Conor McGregor went to war in wildly exciting opening round.
Poirier ended their trilogy the winner, and will go onto fight Charles Oliveira for the UFC lightweight title. A fight he must be favoured to win. McGregor loses again and will be left with a lot of soul searching in the months ahead as he rehabilitates his broken ankle. He faces surgery and an uncertain MMA future.
McGregor after being smashed in the second part of the first round, was allowed to get to his feet. But with seconds left in the round McGregor missed with a punch and fell back and appeared to snap his ankle in the process of falling back. Poirier said the damage was done earlier, but whenever the injury occurred, McGregor was done from that point.
Poirier had to endure a leg kick heavy attack in the opening segments of the fight. A left hand seemed to stun Poirier momentarily, but when the former interim initiated a clinch, McGregor pulled his opponent down to the canvas looking to secure a guillotine. That decision almost certainly cost him the fight.
For a few fleeting seconds McGregor must have thought he would win in the most unlikely manner. But once the grip loosened, McGregor would be made to pay. It will be an error McGregor will likely regret as the analysis of what went wrong begins.
The ending might form a narrative for McGregor, an excuse, a reason for his latest defeat. There is already talk of a fourth fight, but with an injury that needs time to heal, that is talk for another time. It could be a year away, and McGregor needs a win before he is pushed back into a fight with Poirier again, especially if Poirier becomes the new lightweight champion.
Poirier, injury or not, looked the likely winner. The injury has probably done McGregor a favour, without it, he would likely have suffered a more definitive and conclusive defeat. It was a fight I didn’t think McGregor could win, and that was the way the fight was heading.
McGregor was more focused, more aggressive, but there is always that feeling that once you ride out the early storm he will fade before he breaks. It is a basic fundamental flaw that for whatever reason he can’t solve.
Something has changed since McGregor went missing from MMA after UFC 205, in a sport that’s still evolving he hasn’t evolved with it. The body has softened, and nothing can hide that McGregor isn’t what he once was. His era of dominance is over.
There was a line from Poirier in the pre-fight press conference, “You used to better than that.”
It was a reference to the tired and uncomfortable trash talking that he brought back to the surface, but it could have been about his diminishing skills inside the cage. McGregor says he has no regrets in life, but in a more balanced reflective mood, he must surely think he lost his best years chasing Floyd Mayweather and the life he led after that.
McGregor had that window where he was practically untouchable, but the aura has gone. The opposition knows it and despite all the bravado, I suspect deep down, he knows it.
Poirier looks forward to his hard-earned title shot that he gambled with in taking the lucrative third fight with McGregor. Even in his repeat victory, Poirier will likely suffer with all the talk about the injury to McGregor. But that would be unfair to Poirier. He is the more rounded fighter, the better fighter, and deserves the respect he feels has been missing. It was his night, and that shouldn’t be forgotten.
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