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UFC 257: Dustin Poirier exacts revenge over Conor McGregor as Notorious suffers TKO defeat on his return
The Diamond levels the scores and hints at McGregor trilogy after his second-round stoppage on Fight Island.
Dustin Poirier exacted revenge against Conor McGregor at UFC 257 to pick up the biggest win of his UFC career, as the third tenure on Fight Island came to a dramatic climax.
McGregor was returning to the Octagon for the first time in a year, but failed to secure the victory needed to potentially set up a rematch with lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov.
In his post-fight interview Poirier hinted at a trilogy, having settled the score with the Irishman who was victorious in their first meeting at UFC 178 more than six years ago.
A clearly disappointed McGregor blamed “lack of activity” for the defeat and promised that fans can expect to see him back in action this year.
Story of the fight
As ever in the build up to a McGregor fight, he was centre of attention but those in the Poirier camp had a quiet confidence about them ahead of UFC 257.
The former interim lightweight champion was once again billed as the underdog, something he admitted to being accustomed to in Thursday’s press conference.
But unlike their first meeting back in 2014, when the then 25-year-old Poirier let McGregor’s famous trash talk get to him, the days before this bout were much calmer and more respectful.
Both men certainly wanted to win and made no bones about that – McGregor was quite clear in his intentions when he sat down with our very own Adam Catterall earlier this week.
But they have both matured since the Las Vegas showdown and for Poirier in particular, he’s now much more acclimatised to these high-profile fights and felt ready to exorcise his demons.
It was McGregor who entered the Octagon first, looking relaxed and confident – even dancing to his opponent’s entrance music as the American entered – before taking in the adulation of the Etihad Arena crowd.
The Irishman immediately took the centre of the Octagon and looked to set the tone, but Poirier responded with a good right hand before taking McGregor to the canvas.
The former two-weight world champion threw shoulders in the face of his opponent as they grappled against the cage, the words of encouragement from his coach John Kavanagh – sat directly behind the pair – clear to hear.
But as the first round wore on Poirier looked to target Mystic Mac’s boxing-heavy styleby chopping his leading leg with brutal calf kicks, much like McGregor himself did to Nate Diaz during their second meeting.
He also showed he was ready to compete with McGregor mentally, pointing in his opponent’s face having caught him right-handed counter.
Poirier the lightweight KO king
Tied most KOs in UFC lightweight history with seven, alongside Edson Barboza & Melvin Guillard.
In just his third lightweight bout in the UFC, McGregor tried to walk down the Louisiana man in the early moments of the second round and started catching some of Poirier’s kicks.
Poirier’s tactics were clear however and those repeated strikes to the calf on the right leg of McGregor were visibly beginning to have an effect.
As the second round progressed the number two ranked lightweight grew in confidence and began to find his own boxing range.
Having taken some heavy hits in both the first round, and the opening exchanging of the second, Poirier fired back and was clearly hurting McGregor.
Notorious was less mobile than earlier in the fight, struggling to use his famed speed to strike and evade and that ultimately led to moment that will go down as one of the greatest in UFC history.
Midway through the second round Poirier backed McGregor up against the cage as he fired combination after combination, swarming all over the Dubliner.
McGregor managed to avoid some of the onslaught heading his way but was ultimately undone with a right hook that caught him straight on the nose and sent him falling backwards.
At that point it was over and referee Herb Dean was forced to step in and hand the victory and a potential lightweight title shot to the American.
As the two embraced in the aftermath, the cameras caught the end of McGregor’s immediate post-fight debrief with his coach Kavanagh where the words “my calf” were said with a grimace.
What they said
"It is a tough one to swallow, I am gutted, I wanted to do well for my team. We put so much work in to it.
"The leg kicks were good, the leg is dead and Dustin is a hell of a fighter.
"We are 1-1 now so maybe we do it again."
"I put in the work so I am not surprised.
"Conor has taken the result very professionally, we are one and one now so maybe we do it again.
"I am happy with the man I see in the mirror.
"I know I can box but I get a bit reckless and wild sometimes."
UFC fighters' verdict
What next for the two fighters?
Both fighters appear open to a third meeting in the immediate aftermath of the bout, with UFC president Dana White also not ruling that out.
They both intimated in the Octagon that with the scores tied at 1-1 they need to determine an ultimate winner in their battle and followed that up with similar sentiments in the post-fight press conference.
The two fighters showed they have huge respect for one and other in this exchange – where you can also clearly see the damage the leg kicks did to McGregor.
While McGregor remained relatively tight-lipped with his future plans, Poirier was quick to rule out a content with new arrival Michael Chandler.
The Diamond does not feel the former Bellator man has earned his stripes so to speak and has no interest in an all-American showdown for the lightweight title if Nurmagomedov is not to return.
UFC 257: Results
Chandler def. Hooker via first-round TKO
Michael Chandler made a stunning UFC debut as the three-time Bellator champion blew Dan Hooker away in a powerful first-round display.
The American backed up his confidence that he could make a successful transition to the company with a huge left hand that floored the rangy New Zealander.
Chandler charged at Hooker almost from the off and once that left hand connected, he could only cover up until the referee stepped in to call a halt to proceedings.
Calderwood def. Eye via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
Scotland’s Joanne Calderwood is eyeing a flyweight title shot after she overcame Jessica Eye in impressive style at the Etihad Arena.
The two Las Vegas residents traded shots but Calderwood looked in control and had the upper hand throughout the three-round contest.
She ultimately made a telling blow just before the final bell, drawing blood from just above the American’s left eye.
Muradov def. Sanchez via TKO
Makhmud Muradov has asked for more notice for his next fight have taken this one, and the two before that, on the back of a late request.
It made no difference for Muradov however, as he forced a third-round stoppage against American Andrew Sanchez to move his winning streak to 14 fights.
Rodriguez def. Ribas via TKO
Marina Rodriguez announced herself to the UFC world after a stunning second-round victory over Amanda Ribas – that was almost a walkaway KO.
The Brazilian had thought referee Herb Dean stepped in to stop the fight after she had floored her opponent, but Rodriguez finished the job sooner after with the referee having to step in.
UFC 257: Prelims - Results
Tsarukyan def. Frevola via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-26)
Arman Tsarukyan made the most of his opportunity as the last-minute replacement picked up a huge surprise win against Matt Frevola.
The Georgian, who was scheduled to fight on the early Prelims just 24 hours before the bout too place, headed straight for Dana White in the aftermath and clearly has his eyes set on a big contest up next.
Tavares def. Carlos Jr via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
Hawaiian striker Brad Tavares secured a convincing win over Brazilian grappler Antonio Carlos Jr in their middleweight contest.
Pena def. McMann via third-round submission
Julianna Pena called out Amanda Nunes after picking up the bantamweight win, via rear naked choke, against Sara McMann.
"Amanda Nunes, I want to fight you... Nobody's had a tougher road in the UFC except for me... It's time for her to quit ducking, that's my fight!"
Prachnio def. Rountree via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
Poland’s Marcin Prachnio edged the light heavyweight contest against Khalil Rountree that got the UFC 257 Prelims underway.
The American looked bemused as the judges’ decision was read out, with the small crowd in attendance on Fight Island booing the decision.