The first PPV UFC event in 2021 was among us, and we’re not talking about imposters. Conor McGregor and Dustin Poirier faced off for a rematch in Fight Island, Abu Dhabi. Revenge never tasted so sweet.
From McGregor’s win in 2014 to Poirier’s win in 2021, there’s a lot to be said about what happened in the middle. It’s important to understand the reason for all the hype for UFC 257. Here’s the breakdown of both fighters and their fights, their personal developments, and future fight predictions.
Known for putting the UFC on a bigger map, Conor “The Notorious” McGregor’s story is a rags-to-riches one. Born in Ireland, McGregor took up boxing at age 12 to defend himself against bullies. He began his MMA training when he met future UFC fighter Tom Egan. McGregor’s headline with Khabib Nurmagomedov (UFC 229) drew 2.4 million pay-per-view buys. This was the largest amount of buys in the history of MMA events. McGregor was the first person ever to become a champion in two weight divisions simultaneously – which is why he calls himself the ‘Champ-Champ.’
Dustin “The Diamond” Poirier is a mixed martial artist and a philanthropist. Born in Louisiana, Poirier dropped out of high school because of his tendency of getting into fights. From physical fights, to juvy, to bootcamps, Poirier’s life had been all about survival. He began fighting professionally in 2009, Although he’s fought in the featherweight division in the past, currently, he fights in the lightweight division in the UFC.
It’s almost impossible not to notice the similarities between these two fighters. For one, they are the same height (5’9) and age – they’re both 32 years old to date. Second, they are both southpaws. This makes them fall under the >20% stance category of UFC fighters. McGregor’s MMA record is 22-5-0, and Poirier’s is 27-6-0. With their records, they have both won around 80% of their fights. Also, both of their rough upbringings and troubled youths ring close (but this is a trait that most fighters share with one another).
Another similarity they share is their defeat by Khabib Nurmagomedov by submission. McGregor fought Khabib in the main event in 2018 for UFC 229 in the lightweight division, losing by submission in the fourth round. Poirier fought Khabib in the main event in 2019 for UFC 242, losing by submission in the third round. The notable difference between those two events lies in the post-fight attitudes. After beating Poirier, there was mutual respect between them both. Khabib gave Poirier and article of clothing to sell to his charity, and then embraced him kindly. However, after fighting McGregor, there was no mutual respect whatsoever – in fact, it was purely personal bad blood.
2014, UFC 178 McGregor vs Poirier 1
McGregor and Poirier matched up for their first fight against each other on Sept. 27, 2014 in the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. For this featherweight division fight, both McGregor and Poirier were the only up-and-coming contenders at the time. This was the co-main event for former two-time UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones vs Daniel Cormier (UFC 178). At the height of both fighters’ training, there was heavy tension and animosity. This fight had heavy undertones of arrogance and supreme confidence.
While many athletes put on a quasi-competitive persona for clickbait, many are truly competitive by nature. McGregor, for example, added a lot of heat to their tension because of his mental warfare antics. Stepping into the ring at age 25, both McGregor and Poirier were hungry for battle. McGregor stopped Poirier by way of TKO in 1 minute and 46 seconds of the first round.
2014 – 2021: Poirier’s Personal & Professional Developments
After this loss, Poirier moved up to the lightweight division because the weight cuts were too severe. He finally bounced back after his loss to McGregor. Poirier was on a 10-2 run and actually became a UFC interim Champion in the lightweight division.
What’s also noteworthy is that he defeated a lot of elite opponents in his run after the McGregor fight and established a respectable reputation. Poirier fought for the world title in 2019 against Khabib Nurmagomedov and lost by submission due to rear-naked choke in the 3rd round.
Poirier has also started his own charity, ‘The Good Fight Foundation,’ to fight for underserved communities. Food drives, school supply drives, hospital donations and research fundraisers, and bringing awareness to Uganda’s water crisis are some of its key missions. He won the BBB Community Hero Award for his noble efforts. Poirier also started his own hot sauce brand, ‘Poirier’s Louisiana Style.’
2014 – 2021: McGregor’s Personal & Professional Developments
Mcgregor went on a 6-2 run after his first bout with Poirier, which became arguably the most legendary run in MMA history. In his fight against Jose Aldo for the featherweight world title, McGregor shocked the world by defeating Aldo in 13 seconds with one punch by knockout. It’s worth mentioning that before facing Conor, Aldo was undefeated for over a decade, and he was the UFC’s #1 pound-for-pound fighter. This was the fastest win in a title fight in UFC history, and it also broke all of the UFC’s previous pay- per-view records.
After this fight, Conor put on 25 pounds and skipped over the lightweight division, jumping straight into welterweight to fight UFC superstar Nate Diaz (UFC 196). This fight also surpassed all other UFC pay-per-view events. However, McGregor’s sudden weight gain took a toll on his fight stamina. Conor fatigued very quickly and lost by submission due to a rear naked choke in the 2nd round, taking his first loss in the UFC.
Five months later, they met again for UFC 202 at the same weight, but this time Conor was more conditioned. He was able to walk away with his hand raised, winning by split decision in a five-round war. This decision sparked controversy as many people believed that Nate was robbed in this second fight.
He then went down a weight class to the lightweight division to fight for the title at that weight class as well against Eddie “American Knuckle Star” Alvarez. Conor put on a master performance, stopping Alvarez at the eight minute mark of the fight by TKO, becoming the first fighter in UFC history to hold the title at two different weight divisions simultaneously.
McGregor’s Crossover to the Boxing World
McGregor then took a break from MMA in 2017 and crossed over to the boxing world. This is where he took on a boxing match with arguably the greatest boxer of all time, undefeated champion Floyd Mayweather Jr. In his first ever boxing match, McGregor lost by TKO in the 10th round, but he managed to win four of the ten rounds against one of the greatest boxers of all time.
Both of these athletes were pay-per-view kings of their sport, so this match was bound to crush all previous pay-per-view records, which it did. McGregor was also able to raise his networth to 100 million dollars through this boxing match, making him the highest paid MMA fighter of all time by far. A year later, Mcgregor returned to MMA to settle the biggest beef in the sports history which was against Khabib Nurmagomedov.
McGregor’s Beef With Khabib
Sources say Khabib had slapped one of Conor’s teammates which really provoked Conor, causing some of the heaviest trash talk in combat sports. Conor crossed all lines, verbally attacking Khabib’s family, country, and religion. This fight was so personal, especially for Khabib.
When it came to finally fight, Khabib absolutely crushed McGregor for four rounds before submitting him by a neck crank in the fourth round, giving Conor his second loss ever. This match broke previous MMA pay-per-view records and to this day, this record still hasn’t been broken.
McGregor retired from MMA after his bout with Khabib for 15 months before returning in January 2020 to fight against UFC legend Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone at welterweight. Conor won by TKO in 40 seconds of the first round, becoming the first fighter in UFC history to hold knockout victories across 3 weight divisions. That’s in featherweight, lightweight, and now welterweight. Also in this time span he started a clothing brand, whiskey brand, and fitness program.
2021, UFC 257 McGregor vs Poirier 2
After watching both fighters grow older and more experienced, fans across the world couldn’t wait to see a rematch. For one, both fighters are former UFC Champions and legends by this point. They are now fathers and have matured a great deal. Also, they’re in a main event for a pay-per-view fight, which already has a reputable following. But people were especially pumped to watch these two fight because they would be in the lightweight division. Most people can agree that this is the weight class that both fighters belong in.
The time for UFC 257 has finally come. This fight, like most recent ones, took place in Fight Island, Abu Dhabi. Shoulder strike after shoulder strike, the two fighters did not hesitate to hit the ground running. In this fight it was evident that Conor was taking much more of a boxing approach. However, from calf kicks to head strikes, Poirier dominated in this fight. Dustin Poirier, the 3-1 underdog of the match, won by TKO in the 2nd round, earning him the biggest win of his career.
Aside from the slate being even, the most refreshing thing about this fight was both fighters’ attitudes towards one another. There was no more inappropriate over-the-top trash talking, only competitive fun. Before, during, and after the fight, they were admirable and respectful with each other. Post-fight, McGregor paid his respect towards his opponent and was a good sport. He mentioned, “I have to dust it off and come back and that’s it, that’s what I’ll do.”
What’s in The Cards for McGregor and Poirier?
Seconds after being announced as the winner of the match, Poirier teased a third fight in the future with McGregor. “He’s a pro man, nothing but respect,” Poirier says about McGregor, after defeating him. “We’re one and one, maybe we have to do it again.” For McGregor, a trilogy with Poirier and/or Diaz is predicted. Some even anticipate a rematch with Max Holloway. McGregor can also potentially fight other contenders such as Tony Ferguson, Michael Chandler. He can also move up to welterweight again and fight Jorge Masvidal for a PPV Blockbuster.
He could very easily get back in the boxing ring as well. A boxing match against Manny Pacquiao is likely, and so is a rematch against Floyd Mayweather Jr. Now, with the way certain Youtubers are infiltrating combat sports, a boxing match with Jake Paul can also be a (very unlikely) possibility. Last but not least, McGregor could also retire from here again and just enjoy his wealth.
As for Poirier’s future, he is definitely fighting for a world title next. This will either be against Justin Gaethje or Charles Olivera, but most likely Gaethje. This is because Poirier and Gaethje were the last two people to fight for the belt against Khabib. Poirier also stated that if somehow he gets robbed of his title shot, he wouldn’t mind a trilogy with Conor or a fight against Nate Diaz.
Although Conor McGregor is not the same winning machine as he once was before, the power of his stardom seems to never fail him. Even though he loses at times, fans cannot wait until he steps into the octagon again. As for Poirier, championship gold and superstardom awaits him.