FLASHBACK: The turning point in Conor McGregor’s rapid rise to super-stardom – and it was all over in 105 seconds! How the Irishman destroyed Dustin Poirier with a first-round KO in 2014 as old rivals prepare to do it all again in mega January rematch
- Conor McGregor confirmed he’ll face Dustin Poirier inside the octagon next year
- The bout was confirmed by McGregor on Tuesday after months of negotiations
- It is a repeat of their 2014 encounter which saw the Irishman win in two minutes
- While there was bad blood at first, Poirier insisted McGregor was the ‘real deal’
Like him or loathe him – Conor McGregor knows how to grab your attention.
Last Tuesday, just months after announcing his third retirement from mixed martial arts, the 32-year-old confirmed that he will make his UFC comeback against old foe Dustin Poirier.
McGregor accepted Poirier’s challenge on Twitter last month, before taking to social media once again earlier this week to confirm they will face inside the octagon for a second time.
Six years ago, Conor McGregor (left) beat Dustin Poirier (right) in 105 seconds at UFC 178
‘I am very grateful to be about to return and get to do what I love again,’ he said in a statement on Instagram.
‘I look forward to the fresh test Dustin will bring since our first bout, while also showcasing my own incredibly deep cache of weaponry. Whatever tool is needed on the night will be pulled from the duffel.’
The fight will be a rematch of their 2014 encounter which helped McGregor on his way to super-stardom, with the Dublin-born fighter able to back up his cocky and assured approach when it mattered.
McGregor (left) and Poirier (R) have agreed to a rematch which is set to take place in January
It has been six years since their featherweight clash inside the MGM Grand which saw McGregor breeze through Poirier after months of verbal exchanges before the Las Vegas showcase.
Here, Sportsmail takes a look back at McGregor vs Poirier to analyse just exactly what went down in Sin City.
THE BUILD UP
While you wouldn’t have known it at the time but a very confident McGregor was quietly realising the opportunity that was being laid out in front of him.
McGregor revealed on Tuesday that the fight against Poirier was one of the first contracts that offered him life-changing sums of money – something that the Irishman would later become accustomed with on several more occasions.
The 32-year-old recounted the time he and his manager were called in to sign a contract with former UFC CEO Lorenzo Fertitta, months before the fight with Poirier.
McGregor (R) and Poirier (L) meet for the first time a month before they’d fight in the octagon
‘Lorenzo [Fertitta] brought me into his office, myself and my manager Audie Attar, and placed a contract down in front of me with numbers I’d never seen before in my life!’ McGregor reminisced.
‘I looked over at Audie like, “you won’t be needed on this one mate”. We both knew but play it cool we are still in the office hahaha! Wild! The first of our dealings together on some of the largest purse contracts in the history of combat fighting.’
McGregor notes that the fight – and the payday that came with it – was a ‘turning point’ in his career, which would see him go on to achieve greatness in the sport.
For his opponent, Poirier was already established as a solid fighter at featherweight. Up until his bout with McGregor, the American had the most wins at featherweight level at that time, which presented McGregor with one of his biggest hurdles in his young UFC career.
Poirier was on a three-fight win streak, having beat Akira Corassani just a few months before
The American beat Corassani (right) via a second-round TKO in Quebec City, Canada
Boasting a 16-3 record and ranked as the No 5 featherweight, Poirier had the experience in the UFC and was seen as a slight favourite with there being some doubts over McGregor, considering this was his first real test in the promotion.
‘The Diamond’ was also on a win streak of three fights, after he beat Akira Corassani via second-round TKO that previous April.
But as always, McGregor confidently predicted how the fight would go, giving himself the win inside the first round. It’s like he always knew.
WAS THERE ANY BAD BLOOD?
While the two traded barbed insults for weeks up until the fight, Poirier remained cautious of McGregor in the build up to fight. ‘To tell you the truth, I don’t think a guy from Ireland gets to this level and this much hype by accident,’ Poirier said during the media day a month before the bout took place. ‘He talks a little bit more with his mouth than his hands, I think.
‘But he’s beat everybody he said he was going to beat but now he’s got himself into a serious situation.’
For McGregor, his confidence gave him a different perspective.
He believed Poirier’s career was ‘deteriorating’ and that his skill level had ‘stagnated’ up to that point, when he was asked for an assessment of his opponent.
There was plenty of bad blood between the two men in the build up to the Las Vegas bout
As the bad blood continued to spill over in the weeks building up to the fight, Poirier revealed to one of his team that he’s ‘never disliked someone as much as McGregor’ after the pair awkwardly bumped into each other in a hotel lobby days before the fight.
The pair almost then came to blows at the weigh-in, with a hyped-up McGregor refusing to let the American have the spotlight when it was his turn to stand on the scales.
The two then had to be separated as they traded yet more verbal insults, setting up what would be a must-see contest in Las Vegas.
ALL OVER IN 105 SECONDS
After weeks of bickering and trash-talk, it all came down to this. And it was pretty much over in an instant.
After taunting Poirier to ‘come get some’ instead of touching gloves, McGregor flew out the blocks and showed what his intentions were from the get-go.
Within seconds, McGregor tried to catch Poirier with a hook-kick before connecting moments later with a spinning back-kick to the abdomen.
McGregor started the fight on the front foot, catching Poirier with a hook-kick straight away
The two traded blows, with McGregor landing nine significant strikes compared to Poirier’s 10
Following a third kick, McGregor then stumbled and allowed Poirier to get his first bit offence in, which allowed him to settle into a rhythm following an intense start.
However, McGregor remained on the front foot, with commentator Joe Rogan noting ‘how loose’ and ‘relaxed’ the Irishman was, despite the high-profile fight and big-night occasion.
One minute and 10 seconds into the first round, McGregor is made to retreat after his left hand is met with a solid return but that’s as much Poirier would really get for the rest of the night.
However, less than two minutes into the first round, McGregor caught Poirier with a left hook
The Irishman then delivers a number of punches to a dazed Poirier before the fight is called
McGregor then tagged Poirier with a swinging left hook, hurting the American who was now confronted with a trash-talking Irishman, goading him as he retreated.
With 3:17 seconds left on the clock, McGregor made his move, catching Poirier with a left hook behind the ear before unloading a series of punches on the mat, forcing referee Herb Dean to step in and wave off the fight.
Just like that, it was all over and it marked Poirier’s first defeat in the UFC via TKO.
McGREGOR TURN POIRIER INTO A BELIEVER
With the fight over following an emphatic contest, McGregor was the talk of the town following his rapid rise in the UFC.
His attitude after the fight became a more respectful one, as he maintained that there was no ill feeling towards ‘great guy’ Poirier.
‘I am cocky in prediction. I am confident in preparation. But I am always humble in victory or defeat,’ McGregor said in the post-fight press conference.
McGregor insisted after the fight he had a lot of respect for Poirier and called him a ‘great guy’
Many questioned the bout-winning punch to the back of Poirier’s head, which McGregor and Dana White both insisted was a clean punch.
Meanwhile, Poirier remained humble in defeat, admitting that he was convinced by the hype surrounding the Irishman.
‘Conor is definitely the real deal,’ Poirier told Sky Sports after the fight. ‘I’ve had 22 fights and I’ve never been put out like that. There are a lot of reasons why it went wrong for me, but he was just better that night.’
Poirier was also quick to point out the electric atmosphere that was created by thousands of travelling Irishmen at the MGM Grand.
Poirier was humble in defeat and claimed that the Irishman is ‘definitely the real deal’
Thousands of Irish fans made the long journey to Las Vegas to support the Dublin-born fighter
The American was surprised at the overwhelming support for a foreign fighter before pointing out that McGregor’s left hook was the real difference-maker.
‘I don’t believe in calling shots “lucky” because he threw it, I moved, and I got hit by it,’ he said. ‘It was a well-placed, well thought-out punch that he threw. It hit me and I went down early.
‘I also didn’t expect so much of the crowd to be rooting against me. That was actually shocking. But I wouldn’t say it affected the way I fought.
‘I was very emotional, just because of everything that had gone on between me and Conor. The build-up to the fight between us made me fight emotionally, rather than relaxed, which is how I like to fight.’
Poirier insists a rematch will not be about getting even, but getting back to where he ‘belongs’
Last month, in the build up to their rematch, Poirier insists their second meeting will not be about getting even for him, but more so about correcting past mistakes from that fateful night six years ago.
Poirier took to Twitter last month to explain.
‘This rematch isn’t about getting even,’ he tweeted. ‘It’s about getting where I belong. It is payback, but to myself. I owe this victory to me. #PaidInFull’
On January 23, he’ll have the opportunity to right those wrongs.
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