By Mark Elezaj
ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates — A focused Dustin Poirier (26-7) stopped Conor McGregor (22-5) with a flurry of punches in their much-anticipated re-match in the main event of UFC 257.
McGregor looked strong in the first round, landing the cleaner punches out of the two and controlling the action while Poirier looked to take the Irishman down with his grappling. McGregor, staying focused, was able to fight out of the clinch but had no answer for the calf kicks that Poirier was throwing.
McGregor came out strong early on in the second round, but Poierer made his adjustments and started to land punches followed by hard calf kicks. Poirier caught McGregor with a series of punches to the head before seriously hurting McGregor with two left hands followed by a short right hand that sent McGregor to the canvas. Poirier followed on the ground and referee Herb Dean stepped in to top the fight, the first KO or TKO loss of McGregor’s career.
“I felt his presence less, his aura less,” said Poirier,
“I just saw another fighter tonight. I think the first time, I was kind of a deer in the headlights, you could say. This time, I was just fighting another man — another man who bleeds just like me. And I knew that.”
“I feel like I’ve done it all except I can’t walk away and say I’m the champ,” Poirier said. “I want to be the champ. When you’re the champ, you can say you’re the champ forever.”
“The game plan was to kick, wrestle and box,” Poirier said. “[Coach] Mike Brown was big on me throwing calf kicks in this fight, and it worked.”
After the fight, McGregor, whose previous four losses all came via submission, spoke on what went wrong.
“You know, it’s hard to overcome inactivity over long periods of time,” said McGregor, who hadn’t fought since beating Donald Cerrone last January.
“I just wasn’t as comfortable as I needed to be, but Dustin is some fighter. If you put in the time, you’re going to get cozy in here. I have to dust it off and come back, and that’s what I will do … I’ll take my licks, but I’m gutted.
“I put in a lot of work, I’m proud of my work, I would have liked to represent my team a bit better.”
~ The Fighting Voice ~