Finally, The Notorious Conor McGregor makes his long-awaited return after a year out of action. In what will be an important fight in the lightweight title picture, McGregor will cross paths with Dustin Poirier for a second time. It has been six years since McGregor knocked Poirier out in round one of their featherweight bout at UFC 178.
McGregor has fought only twice since 2016- his infamous loss to Khabib Nurmagomedov by submission, and his first-round knockout of Donald Cerrone last year. His inactivity leaves a lot to be questioned, and it’s very difficult to tell where his level actually is right now. While he looked fantastic against Cerrone, he’ll be facing a higher level of competition on Saturday.
And while he was thoroughly dominated in his only other MMA competition since his 2017 victory over Eddie Alvarez to become the UFC lightweight champion, that loss came at the hands of the most dominant lightweight champion in UFC history.
The entire world knows what Conor is coming to do. He’s going to come out calm and measured, move forward, make his reads, and begin to feint and show different looks to keep Poirier on his heels, all to set up his left hand. McGregor’s left hook has put some of the best fighters he’s faced to sleep with just one touch.
In his fight against Cerrone, he blitzed early and stunned him with shoulder strikes. From there, he landed a few lefts before chasing Cerrone down and landing a head kick. A few ground strikes later, Herb Dean called the contest. Against Khabib, he attempted to put pressure on early and force Nurmagomedov to react. McGregor will likely take a similar approach to this fight.
Poirier is a boxer, and a bit of a brawler. He has improved vastly since the first meeting between these two, but he still isn’t quite on McGregor’s level as a striker. Conor’s range management and head movement is going to allow him to win most of the exchanges. He is the more intelligent, faster and more powerful striker in this fight.
Conor is on a mission to get back to a lightweight title fight, and Poirier is standing in his way. I think he’ll be aggressive early and likely finish this fight in the first or second round.