Years in the making: Dustin Poirier avenges loss to Conor McGregor
ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates — Dustin Poirier stopped Conor McGregor with a flurry of punches midway through the second round Sunday, avenging his loss to the Irish superstar with a knockout victory at UFC 257.
Poirier (26-7) caught McGregor with a series of shots to the head before buckling his knees with two left hands. Poirier then sent McGregor to the canvas with a short right hand and finished it swiftly, setting off stunned excitement among the few thousand screaming fans allowed inside the Etihad Arena on Yas Island.
In his first fight in a year, McGregor (22-5) had a strong first round before he was stopped by punches for the first time in his mixed martial arts career. McGregor, whose previous four losses all came by submission, stayed on the canvas for several moments afterward, gathering himself after his second loss in three fights since 2016.
“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.”
McGregor and Poirier met for the first time in September 2014 as featherweights, and McGregor won by knockout in just 106 seconds during his incredible early-career success. McGregor became the featherweight champion 15 months later, while Poirier rebuilt his career with just one loss in his next 11 fights.
With a second chance to derail McGregor while boosting his own hopes of regaining the lightweight title, Poirier didn’t miss.
Sporting a shaved head and a beard, McGregor pushed the action early against Poirier, who landed an early takedown before getting backed against the cage for stretches of the first round. In the second, Poirier bothered McGregor with leg kicks before throwing the punches that ended it.
McGregor has not fought regularly in recent years, but his popularity was undiminished: UFC 257 is expected to be one of the most popular pay-per-view events in the promotion’s history, according to White, and distribution problems in the U.S. early in the PPV portion of the card led fans to bombard social media and ESPN with complaints.
Dustin Poirier defeats Conor McGregor in second round at UFC 257
Dustin Poirier opened the round with low calf kicks, and caught Conor McGregor’s attention. Poirier tried to kick again and McGregor caught the left leg twice in separate instances and forced Poirier to dance on one foot and reconsider his stance.
The southpaw regrouped and Poirier connected with a calf kick, followed with a crisp left hand that crushed the face of McGregor. The Irishman felt the powerful shot and was instantly stunned. Poirier noticed and immediately pounced, landing one left. Then another. Followed by a technical and thudding combination.
A Poirier right hook dropped a dazed McGregor, and Poirier connected with two more unanswered shots before referee Herb Dean stopped the action at the 2:32 mark to give Poirier a win by knockout/TKO.
Poirier exacts revenge of his loss to McGregor from 2014 and immediately becomes a top power player in the lightweight division.
Round 1: Conor McGregor takes the fight to Dustin Poirier late in round
Both fighters awkwardly meet in the middle as referee Herb Dean has a hard time getting them out of the gates. Less than 40 seconds into the fight, Dustin Poirier wrestles Conor McGregor onto the floor but the Irishman picks himself back up 50 seconds later and immediately lands a series of shoulder strikes.
The fighters continue grappling in a clinch but McGregor lands with knees to the chest and then swiftly changes positions by putting Poirier on the fence. McGregor promptly hits Poirier with a foot stomp. McGregor then lands an overhand left and right uppercut.
McGregor looks calculated and measured with precision punching and pressuring. The last half of the round is all McGregor, as he introduces kicks late into the opening frame as well.
Round: 10-9 McGregor.
Conor McGregor and Dustin Poirier make their way to the octagon
Conor McGregor is minutes away from his first UFC fight in more than a year as he prepares to fight Dustin Poirier in Abu Dhabi on Saturday night.
Here he is on the way to the octagon:
Dustin Poirier eager to avenge his loss to McGregor from the first time they met in 2014:
Michael Chandler knocks out Dan Hooker in his UFC debut
Three-time Bellator champion Michael Chandler made his UFC debut in electrifying fashion, knocking out top lightweight contender Dan Hooker with a first-round TKO.
Hooker (20-10) couldn’t use his four-inch height advantage to stave off Chandler’s (22-5) feisty and preying attack, allowing Chandler to land a picture-perfect left hand that clipped him and knocked him down.
It was the beginning of the end, as Chandler climbed on top of Hooker to land a series of clubbing fists before referee Marc Goddard stopped everything at 2:30 into the fight.
The main event between Conor McGregor and Dustin Poirier is next.
Dustin Poirier and Conor McGregor are in the building
The main event for UFC 257 between Dustin Poirier and Conor McGregor is drawing closer. The lightweight fight should start before 10 p.m. PST.
Both fighters are now in the arena in Abu Dhabi.
Joanne Calderwood, Makhmud Muradov and Marina Rodriguez win at UFC 257
Joanne Calderwood (14-5) proved to be the more prolific striker, and the Scottish fighter swiftly beat Jessica Eye (15-8, 1 NC) via unanimous decision in an entertaining battle between female flyweight contenders.
Makhmud Muradov (25-6) beat Andrew Sanchez (12-6) via third-round TKO through a series of flying knees and punches.
Muradov was so proud of his performance, he asked UFC president Dana White for a follow on Instagram immediately after.
Flyweight Marina Rodriguez (13-1-2) scored a vicious second-round TKO win over Amanda Ribas (10-2) in a firefight that ended after Rodriguez connected with a heavy right hand and an unanswered onslaught.
The co-main event — a lightweight fight between Dan Hooker and Michael Chandler — is next for the Abu Dhabi octagon at UFC 157.
ESPN acknowledges streaming problems for McGregor vs. Poirier pay per view
Dana White projected a high performing pay per view for UFC 257 that would garner at least 1.5 million buys, making it at least a top-two selling event of all time.
What he couldn’t imagine was for the ESPN+ PPV stream to not actually work for many consumers across the nation.
Shortly after the PPV started, UFC 257 started trending on social media for the wrong reasons because the fight feed was not working for those who paid $69.99 to watch the event.
ESPN provided The Times the following statement through UFC officials.
“We are aware of an issue impacting some fans’ ability to access tonight’s PPV event and are working to resolve it as quickly as possible,” a Disney spokesman said in a statement.
Breaking down who won in the UFC 257 preliminaries
Preliminary action for UFC 257 wrapped up with a six-fight slate.
Arman Tsarukyan (16-2) attained his third consecutive win against Matt Frevola (8-2-1) with a dominant unanimous decision.
Brad Tavares (18-7) got back in the win column by scoring a decision win over Antonio Carlos Junior (11-5 1 NC) in a middleweight match.
Julianna Pena (11-4) scored a third-round rear naked choke submission over Sara McMann (12-6) in a bantamweight bout and immediately called out the top female fighter in the world in Amanda Nunes.
Marcin Prachnio (14-5) survived a knockdown but ultimately outworked Khalil Rountree Jr. (9-5 1 NC) in an entertaining light heavyweight affair.
Rising prospect Movsar Evloev (14-0) kept his unbeaten record by beating game veteran Nik Lentz (30-12-2) via split decision in a 150-pound catchweight bout.
If an MMA career doesn’t end up working out for Evloev, perhaps he should try gymnastics.
UFC announcer Bruce Buffer reached deep into his blazer collection and brought out one his best choices.
Amir Albazi (14-1) defeated Zhalgas Zhumagulov (13-5) via unanimous decision to kick off the night in a flyweight fight.
Catch up on key storylines for Conor McGregor vs. Dustin Poirier II
Did you miss the first fight between Conor McGregor and Dustin Poirier? Hopefully you’ve stayed offline for the last seven years and are not aware of the result yet, because you can watch it in its entirety here. Don’t blink …
Highlights from UFC 178 in 2014 when Conor McGregor and Dustin Poirier met in the octagon for the first time.
Knock yourself out with some more pre-fight viewing breaking down all of the key storylines around the rematch.
Previewing UFC 257 between Dustin Poirier and Conor McGregor.
Who will win Conor McGregor vs. Dustin Poirier at UFC 257? Experts make their picks
Conor McGregor last year killed off “The Notorious” part of his pre-fight persona and is now more respectful of his opponents during promotions. But as soon as that octagon door slams shut, he’ll abandon niceties and look to crack Dustin Poirier with a thumping left hand, a potent head kick or a refined shoulder strike. McGregor lands more than five significant strikes per minute and is the one who picked Poirier out of anyone to return against, perhaps knowing the American is hit on average with 46% of strike attempts against him. Beating Poirier on points would be some achievement, but I’m anticipating a signature McGregor KO.
— Alan Dawson, combat sports correspondent for Business Insider
The sport and the world need more Dustin Poiriers. It’s hard not to root for the guy. That said, I expect Conor McGregor to win, and I expect him to do it fairly quickly. McGregor will be the sharper striker, and Poirier is a big target for those quick hands. I’m also not buying into the hype that Poirier’s odds improve dramatically as the fight wears on. My heart would love to see Poirier get such a massive victory, but my head says McGregor is the prudent pick in this one.
— Dann Stupp, writer for PlayVirginia.com
The two most likely outcomes are an early Conor McGregor knockout or a late Dustin Poirier finish. Both men are excellent strikers, particularly on the counter, but McGregor hits harder and is an elite finisher. Poirier excels in high-paced matchups and has improved so much from the first meeting. Is engaging in a potential firefight a smart way to beat McGregor? I’m not sure. My initial thought was Poirier would withstand an early onslaught and wear McGregor out and win by submission a la Nate Diaz but now I’m leaning toward McGregor by second-round TKO.
— Mookie Alexander, associate editor for BloodyElbow.com
Dustin Poirier is a totally different fighter, and if he can absorb or avoid Conor McGregor’s big left, and it gets beyond round 2, I think he wins.
— Aaron Bronsteter, MMA reporter and content Editor for TSN Sports
More expert picks and predictions for Conor McGregor vs. Dustin Poirer II
We reached out to some of the top MMA writers and editors around the world to see how they envision the rematch between Conor McGregor and Dustin Poirier unfolding.
Conor McGregor’s greatest career rival isn’t Khabib Nurmagomedov. It’s himself. “The Notorious” had ups and downs over the last three years, including arrests and public blowups. But recently, it seems the UFC’s biggest star has finally grown up. A father of two with one on the way, McGregor has cleaned up his act, donating a small fortune worth of PPE to Irish hospitals last year and refocused on his training. After a 10-week training camp in Portugal, McGregor is revitalized and appears ready to return to old form. Dustin Poirier has improved since their 2014 meeting. But McGregor finished that one in 1:46. It might not be that fast this time, but the result will be the same: McGregor by TKO.
— Marc Raimondi, combat sports reporter for ESPN
Conor McGregor vs. Dustin Poirier should be an absolute war. Both fighters love to stand and trade and I’d expect nothing less in the main event of UFC 257. Poirier, coming off a fight-of-the-year bout with Dan Hooker in June, isn’t afraid to take one to land one. That’s also the preferred method of McGregor who, in my opinion, is the more prolific finisher. If Poirier can drag this fight into the later rounds, I like his chances. Unfortunately I don’t see it getting there. McGregor by third-round TKO
— Greg Rosenstein, managing editor of MMA and boxing for The Athletic
There are lessons both men — they literally are compared to the skinny youngsters who met at UFC 178 — can take from the first fight. Dustin Poirier must not be predictable. He throws elegant combinations and is fluid with his strikes. Against Conor McGregor, whose vision and timing are excellent, this means Poirier is set up to be countered. If so, McGregor can exert himself in ways Poirer can’t see coming. I expect the Irishman to score another decisive stoppage of “The Diamond” in a boxing-heavy affair.
— Josh Gross, editor-at-large for Sherdog.com
Conor McGregor’s only combat sports victory since 2016 is over a fading Donald Cerrone, who is winless in his past five fights. Dustin Poirier is still in his prime and has been active against a who’s who of top lightweights in that span. McGregor’s left hand must always be respected and he can win this fight. But Poirier can take a punch, and my hunch is he weathers McGregor’s early storm and finishes things in the late rounds.
— Dave Doyle, senior editor for MMA Junkie
Eminem debuts UFC-centric music video for ‘Higher’ ahead of UFC 257
Eminem’s hit song “Higher” has been playing across ESPN properties as part of the promotional push for UFC 257 in recent weeks.
It led to a grand culmination Saturday when the Detroit-based rapper debuted the music video for the track on ESPN.
Due to its partnership with ESPN, accompanying images for the music video essentially doubled as a promotional video for the UFC.
The video mostly features Eminem rapping in a boxing ring like a ring announcer. He also engages in a tense, mock interview with UFC president Dana White. The video features clips of the UFC’s biggest stars, including the main attraction tonight in Conor McGregor.
“We have always been interested in fostering the synergy between music and sports and along with ESPN we have created many great moments together,” said David Nieman, vice president of sports and gaming for Interscope Geffen A&M. “Working together to amplify Eminem’s artistic vision in such a unique way for this highly anticipated UFC event is absolutely a high point.”
“Higher” was featured in Eminem’s latest release “Music To Be Murdered By — Side B.”
Experts make their picks for Conor McGregor vs. Dustin Poirier II
We reached out to some of the top MMA writers and editors around the world to see how they envision the rematch between Conor McGregor and Dustin Poirier unfolding.
Dustin Poirier said after his defeat against Conor McGregor in 2014 that “The Notorious” was the hardest puncher he ever faced. McGregor finished that featherweight fight in less than two minutes with a combination of precision, power and speed. I see this one ending the same way once again. Poirier, who has improved his game a lot since that 2014 loss, will take McGregor to the late rounds, since he can absorb more power at lightweight, but will also lose by KO. Poirier must avoid McGregor’s vicious attacks in the first two rounds and try to exhaust him, considering that Conor has only been in the Octagon for 40 seconds since 2018.
— Eduard Cauich, LA Times en Español sports editor
Conor McGregor has not fought more than 40 seconds in 27 months and that could work against him if Dustin Poirier takes him past the third round. Do not count on McGregor to knock out Poirier in less than two minutes again. Poirier is a more composed fighter than he was back then, while McGregor’s physicality will be the determining factor. The Irishman has shown some maturity and that could also mean he is physically and mentally ready to once again be on the big stage. McGregor by knockout on the third.
— Jad El Reda, LA Times en Español sports editor
Conor McGregor used a first-round knockout of Dustin Poirier in 2014 to position himself to win the UFC’s featherweight title. He hopes to use a win in their rematch Saturday at UFC 257 to fight for the lightweight belt. Poirier is a vastly improved fighter since 2014, but this figures to be a stand-up fight and McGregor is the harder hitter and the more accurate striker. The odds are over-inflated on McGregor and so if you are a value bettor, there is plenty to be had on Poirier at +250 or higher. But I think McGregor’s striking accuracy, quickness and power will lead him to a victory on Fight Island.
— Kevin Iole, combat sports writer for Yahoo! Sports
This is almost assuredly going to be a more competitive and longer fight than the first time around when McGregor needed just 1:46 to finish Poirier back in 2014. While McGregor remains incredibly skilled at cornering his opponents and setting up his lethal left hand, Poirier is now a far more confident and experienced fighter. He will likely look to land leg kicks and body shots early to wear down McGregor and test his cardio. As with every McGregor fight, all the betting value is on Poirier because of the inflated odds due to public perception. Poirier by fourth-round submission.
— Adam Hill, reporter for the Las Vegas Review-Journal
Dana White: UFC 257 trending toward top-two PPV event of all time
UFC president Dana White told The Times on Saturday that UFC 257 will end up being the No. 1 or No. 2 best selling pay-per-view event of all time for the company.
“The conservative number is 1.5 million PPV buys. Everything for this fight is off the charts. It broke every [pre-fight] record already,” White said.
Conor McGregor is a massive draw and holds six out of the top seven best-selling PPV positions of all time for the UFC.
Where will the Irishman’s rematch with Dustin Poirier rank?
Tale of the tape between Conor McGregor and Dustin Poirier
Hometown: Dublin, Ireland
Record: 22-4, 20 stoppages
Nickname: The Notorious
Height: 5 foot 9 inches
Reach: 75 inches
Average fight time: 8:20
Key stats: Former two-division champion and No. 4 ranked UFC lightweight who has 14 first-round finishes and wins over Nate Diaz, Eddie Alvarez, Jose Aldo, Donald Cerrone and Max Halloway.
Hometown: Coconut Creek, Florida
Nickname: The Diamond
Record: 26-6, 19 stoppages, 1 No Contest
Height: 5 foot 9 inches
Reach: 72 inches
Average fight time: 10:29
Key stats: Former UFC interim lightweight champion and No. 2 ranked contender who’ll be fighting in the UFC for the 25th time and has wins over Max Holloway (twice), Anthony Pettis, Justin Gaethje and Dan Hooker.
Conor McGregor is back in the octagon, but will he stay there?
Conor McGregor proved to be more cagey outside of the UFC octagon than inside of it in 2020. The Irishman fought for a total of 40 seconds when he convincingly defeated Donald Cerrone last January.
It was McGregor’s first win since 2016, and the plan was to build serious steam ahead for another enthralling run. Soon after, the pandemic and his polarizing presence curtailed any proclivity for a proactive year.
McGregor’s relationship with UFC president Dana White suffered a knockdown, and the fighter showed more of his feisty side when he published private messages between his boss claiming that his career was being mishandled.
McGregor (again) announced his retirement from the UFC. The former two-division champion also said he’d next fight Manny Pacquiao in a boxing match and has even entertained overtures to fight YouTuber Jake Paul in a ring.
After a criminal case ended without charges, McGregor was hit this week with a new lawsuit by a woman accusing him of rape at a Dublin hotel in 2018. McGregor dismissed it as “old news” during a news conference Thursday.
“It was investigated thoroughly over the course of two long years, and I was cleared of any wrongdoing. And that’s it,” said McGregor. “There is so much positivity in my life. I have a great challenge [in front of me by fighting].”
At 32, the whiskey proprietor is looking to walk a proper line on all fronts of his life before his physical prime barrels out.
Will Conor McGregor vs. Dustin Poirier be a flashback to seven years ago?
Conor McGregor, the face of mixed-martial arts, will return from a yearlong break Saturday to fight Dustin Poirier as the main event for UFC 257 in Abu Dhabi. McGregor (22-4) mauled Poirier (26-6) and beat him in 106 seconds nearly seven years ago, but Poirier has since revived his career.
UFC president Dana White and McGregor patched up their relationship because making exorbitant amounts of money always has healing powers. McGregor will earn a $5-million minimum against Poirier, a considerable raise from his $3-million guarantee for the Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone fight last January.
White has promised throughout the promotional tour that this is the most committed version of McGregor he’s experienced. Although he no longer hurls dollies or water bottles, McGregor still flings gab as punchy as his jab — even if it’s more toned down than before.
“I know there’s questions about my abilities. I know [Poirier is] heavier and on a different weight and more experienced, but I feel I can do it,” McGregor said. “I believe I can get him out there and possibly hit him early, but I am hoping for a good, long bout.”
Conor McGregor’s top finishes in UFC.
Should the refocused and physically rebuilt McGregor remain victorious, White will try to convince Khabib Nurmagomedov out of retirement to fight “The Notorious” one in a rematch in what could be the most lucrative event in UFC history.
McGregor’s master plan could ultimately be punched out by Poirier.
“I know what a win over Conor McGregor means in combat sports and I know whoever wins this fight is fighting for gold and that’s why I fight,” said Poirier. “I want to be the undisputed world champion. I’m still chasing that goal and I know this fight gets me one step closer to that.”
How to watch Conor McGregor vs. Dustin Poirier II
That means viewers need to already be an ESPN+ subscriber in order to have the opportunity to purchase the event at $69.99. The five-fight pay-per-view portion of the event begins at 7 p.m. PST. The main event between Conor McGregor and Dustin Poirier should start around 9:30 p.m.
The co-main event features three-time Bellator champion Michael Chandler (20-9) making his UFC debut against sixth-ranked lightweight and slight favorite Dan Hooker (21-5).
Undefeated champion Khabib Nurmagomedov is looking to be wowed in the night’s unofficial lightweight tournament as he ponders coming out of retirement.
The day of fights will start at 4 p.m PST with two prelim fights on ESPN+. At 5 p.m., a four-fight slate of action continues on ESPN and ESPN+. For a complete breakdown of the 11-fights and matchups, click here.