Last night saw a seismic shift in the UFC Lightweight division. Whilst many knew that Dustin Poirier was likely to outlast Conor McGregor in a drawn out war, not many predicted that he would be able to TKO the Irishman in just the second round.
Dustin Poirier came in this fight attempting to avenge a loss from nearly 7 years ago. You could visibly see the change in Poirier’s stance when he finished the first round of his UFC 257 main event last night; he looked like someone that had just beaten a personal best, and he had.
McGregor knocked out Poirier all those years ago in the first round. While Conor looked like he won the first round of last night’s main event? Dustin Poirier had overcome a major mental hurdle.
Into the second Dustin began to lean heavily on the calf kicks that would eventually lead McGregor to lose his base completely and fall to a flurry of punches from the 32-year-old Poirier.
Conor McGregor’s Eye of The Tiger
Dana White made a comment in the UFC 257 post fight press conference, he said that this was Conor McGregor’s Rocky III moment.
On the face of it, there are a lot of similarities. Conor McGregor entered Abu Dhabi and Fight Island on a yacht, shirtless and wearing Versace trousers. Conor McGregor is the biggest name in combat sports and he is reaping the financial rewards from a career spent selling fights with his promo ability, as well as his work inside the octagon.
If you haven’t seen Rocky III, first off, why? Secondly, the third instalment of the Rocky franchise saw the titular character become the rich and famous face of boxing; leading the ‘Italian Stallion’ to become complacent and miss that killer edge that took him to the top of the (film’s) boxing world.
Rocky then trained with his former nemesis, Apollo Creed. The Italian Stallion would re-look at how he trained and tried to get the ‘eye of the tiger’ back into his game; something he desperately needed if he were to defeat Clubber Lang (Mr T) and regain his World Championship.
Conor McGregor comes from humble beginnings in his native Ireland, he HAD that killer edge and worked harder than everyone else to sell his fights and to become the biggest draw in MMA. Has McGregor truly lost the lustre that he had? Can he put aside all of the glamour, all of the suits and the money.
Can he become the killer that he once was?
It’s easy to dismiss McGregor as another fighter who made it big and then ‘forgot their roots’ as a fighter. When you have the ability to train in the finest gyms, with the best trainers and nutritional coaches? It’s obviously something you’re going to take, right? From a mindset perspective, maybe Notorious needs to step back and be more spartan in his approach, find what made him the ‘champ-champ’ of two UFC divisions.
This is however real life, it isn’t a movie, and Conor McGregor needs to be realistic and see if he can find more motivation to climb back to the top of the Lightweight rankings. From the look of the brutal leg kicks from Poirier and the more boxing orientated approach of McGregor, perhaps he is already looking forward to a showdown with Manny Pacquaio in a boxing ring?
Focus on MMA
McGregor said in the post-fight press conference for UFC 257 that he wants to focus on MMA, but he is ‘open.’ He also said that his “complete dead leg” might push back a potential fight against Manny.
The next cagefight for Conor McGregor could be very interesting, and the UFC will have to book his opponent wisely. If Dana White can somehow get Khabib to return, then a potential McGregor vs Poirier rematch for a shot at the current Lightweight Champ could be major, major box office.
If you don’t see the connection between McGregor and Rocky, just remember that Sylvester Stallone once said this about Notorious, before he faced Floyd Mayweather…
“I always have the underdog, he’s the real life Rocky.”
If Balboa himself says it, I’m believing it.
Jake Skudder (@jakejeremypuro on Twitter)
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