Here’s What Went Wrong for Conor McGregor in His Fight Against Dustin Poirier

Published 05/31/2021, 12:32 PM EDT
ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES – JANUARY 23: (R-L) Dustin Poirier punches Conor McGregor of Ireland in a lightweight fight during the UFC 257 event inside Etihad Arena on UFC Fight Island on January 23, 2021 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)

UFC lightweight maestros Dustin Poirier and Conor McGregor are gearing up to face each other in the headliner of UFC 264. They fought earlier this year in January at UFC 257. This was their rematch from 2014 where the Irishman had defeated Poirier inside Round 1.


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LAS VEGAS, NV – DECEMBER 12: Conor McGregor enters the Octagon for his featherweight title fight against Jose Aldo during UFC 194 at MGM Grand Garden Arena on December 12, 2015 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Steve Marcus/Getty Images)

Although this time around, the tables turned, and Poirier handed McGregor a TKO loss in Round 2. The loss is a significant one for McGregor as prior to this he had never lost via KO/TKO in his entire MMA career, let alone UFC.


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The match didn’t last long enough to make a detailed story out of it but had enough to analyze what went right for Poirier and what went wrong for the ‘Notorious’ one.

A brief analysis of Conor McGregor vs Dustin Poirier 2

There is no denying the fact that Conor is certainly one of the best in UFC. Not just in money talks but also when it comes to action inside the ring.

But no matter how good you are, it always comes down to the amount of time you have put together in the ring before a big match.

Before facing Poirier in January 2021, Conor had spent just 40 seconds in the ring since his loss to Khabib in 2018. That’s almost 2.5 years.

He fought Cerrone in 2020 for 40 seconds, and all he did was he was throwing his gifted hand punches and shoulder tackles that brought an end to Cerrone’s time in the octagon on that fateful night.

Although ‘Cowboy’ Cerrone is not an average fighter, he is clearly out of his prime and was coming back from some devastating losses against Ferguson and Gaethje.

So, when Conor went in against a more potent Poirier, the ring-rust was visible as he lacked footwork and inclined more towards his striking.

The match started with Conor being the aggressive one, as usual. The southpaw used his reach and connected with some hefty blows to put Poirier on the back foot. But unlike the last time, this version of Poirier had more patience and composure.

He dealt with the initial bombs from McGregor, but slowly worked on his ace plan that finally brought an end to the Irishman.

How the leg kicks from Poirier turned out to be a masterstroke?

MMA, unlike boxing, is not a punching game. It also includes a great use of footwork to never let the opponent settle down. Poirier knew from the start that McGregor lacked foot movement and was dependent on his striking due to ring rust.

He then put on a leg kick masterclass that is seldom seen in the UFC cage. Poirier landed some lethal kicks, which was even accepted by Conor later. He was literally walking on one leg, carrying a dead leg.

In the second round, Conor looked helpless. The leg kicks forced his calf, knee, and thighs to give up on him. With his opponent now in full control. Poirier then pushed forward for the striking fists and completed the demolition job in style.

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Significant strikes on the body for both the fighters

If we look at the significant strikes recorded by both fighters, there is a vast difference in one aspect. In total, Poirier landed 63% of significant strikes on the head whereas Conor had the upper hand here. The latter had accumulated 79% of significant strikes on the head.

The mid-section was the least targeted area from both fighters. McGregor landed a total of 14% of body shots whereas Poirier had none.

The game-changer was the last one, i.e. the lower body and legs. McGregor had landed only 7% of his shots on the lower half and Poirier just destroyed the ‘Notorious’ in this aspect. He landed a total of 18 significant strikes with 38% in total.

Poirier vs Conor McGregor 3 to decide the next lightweight title challenger

Poirier had given up his title fight for a trilogy bout with McGregor. But it’s almost certain that the winner of the UFC 264 headliner will be the #1 contender for the lightweight title.

Both fighters will be aware of it and will look to settle the rivalry once it for all before moving out to other targets. The matchup would be one of the biggest of the year.


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In spite of the devastating loss, one could never deny that McGregor is more than capable of springing in a masterclass whenever he wants. But whether he can do it against a raging Poirier, only time will tell.


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Akshyay Srichandan Mahapatra

257 articles

Akshyay Mahapatra is a UFC author for EssentiallySports. He wished to combine his passion for the UFC (that he has been following since 2008) as well as his love for writing. This motivated him to enter the world of combat sports journalism.