Dustin Poirier scored a sensational knockout victory over Conor McGregor at UFC 257, decking him in the second round to put himself in pole position for another crack at the lightweight title.
The KO was the first in McGregor’s storied career and came after the Irishman had dominated the fight from the opening bell.
Controlling the center of the octagon, McGregor landed some hard shots with his right hand but he couldn’t find the blow with his left that would have finished the fight, and instead Poirier scored with a hard right to get his back off the fence before landing a flurry of blows to win.
The bout was supposed to bring clarity to the UFC’s lightweight division and the prospect of a rematch with the undefeated Dagestani Khabib Nurmagomedov, but his stunning knockout loss raises more questions that it answered for the division.
Thanks for the support everyone! Was not my night/morning in there but a great contest to improve on. I’m excited at the blockbuster trilogy I now have on my hands. Dustin is a hell of a competitor and I look forward to going again. God bless us all, happy Sunday ❤️— Conor McGregor (@TheNotoriousMMA) January 24, 2021
With thousands of McGregor fans in the stands - seemingly far more than the official attendance of 2,600 provided by the UFC - the stage was set for another triumphant night for the UFC’s golden boy, but Poirier tore up the script to win by KO in the middle of the second round.
UFC president Dana White had earlier been making no secret of the fact that he would like to see Nurmagomedov, who retired undefeated after beating Justin Gaethje last October, come back for a lucrative rematch with McGregor.
White was in immediate contact with Nurmagomedov to see if he had seen anything that would entice him back into the octagon, but he said he was apparently sticking by his decision to retire, for the time being at least.
“He said ‘Dana, be honest with yourself. I’m so many levels above these guys. I beat these guys’,” White told a media conference as he watched what would undoubtedly have been a very lucrative pay-per-view event slip away.
This is what happened, when you change your team, leave the sparring partners who made you a champion and sparring with little kids, far away from reality.— khabib nurmagomedov (@TeamKhabib) January 24, 2021
For McGregor, it was a first knockout defeat as a pro and surely not an outcome he expected as he arrived in Abu Dhabi on his yacht in midweek, enjoying the trappings of the fame and wealth that this sport has brought him.
But this time he was to be the combatant ending the bout knocked senseless as Poirier avenged a 2014 loss at featherweight.
Along with Michael Chandler, who won the co-main event with a knockout of Dan Hooker, Poirier is now the top name in terms of title shots when White and his match-making team meet this coming Tuesday to plan for the future, while McGregor considers his next move.
“It’s a bitter pill to swallow, and I don’t even know whether I’m that upset, I don’t know what to say,” he told a media conference, before going on to list trilogy fights against Poirier and Nate Diaz and a possible boxing match with Manny Pacquiao as being on his radar.