Dustin Poirier is expecting a completely different fight when he faces Conor McGregor in January.
The lightweight rematch between the pair was made official on Monday as it will headline the UFC 257 pay-per-view taking place January 23.
For Poirier, it’s a chance to not only cement himself as the best lightweight in the world — given Khabib Nurmagomedov‘s alleged retirement — but also earn revenge following his first-round TKO loss to McGregor in their featherweight bout back in 2014.
However, it’s simply business for Poirier this time around as he won’t be fighting with emotion like their previous outing.
“He was obviously a great fighter in finishing a bunch of guys before me in his UFC career, but at this point we’re both so much more established and have so much more experience, just more mature fighters, and I think you get a completely different fight here,” Poirier told MMA Junkie. “I was emotional in the first one. I wanted to hurt the guy. This time I just want to outsmart him, just want to beat him. This is business. This isn’t any ill will towards the guy.
“When I was younger, I used to fight with a lot of emotion. This isn’t the same thing for me. This isn’t about getting even for me. This isn’t like a revenge type of thing for me. This is about moving my career forward, about putting my family in a better spot. It’s not trying to get back a guy who got me. This is just business.”
McGregor hasn’t competed since January and has only fought a total of two times in the last two years. Poirier, meanwhile, has fought five times since the start of 2018 and has also won five of his last six outings.
And despite the Irishman’s inactivity, Poirier is not underestimating him or any any facet of his game — including the ground game.
“We have to get in there and find out how it aligns,” Poirier said. “Watching footage and stuff like that, I can tell you the guy has one of the best counter-twos in the game. No doubt about it. His timing, his balance, his understanding of distance when guys are being too heavy on their front foot and throwing power shots. He’s a great counter puncher. He really is. I give him credit for that.
“I’m sure he’s always evolving and working to get better. I think people, because he’s been submitted, he’s such a big puncher, people underestimate his ground game. I think his jiu-jitsu and his grappling is better than people give him credit for. I really do. I’m not underestimating this guy in any aspect of mixed martial arts. I’m expecting him to come out as a mixed martial artist, not a boxer, not a one-puncher. He’s coming to fight, and so am I.”
Hopefully, it is the same case with McGregor. Otherwise, it might end up being Poirier that gets to box Manny Pacquiao in the future.
“He might be (overlooking me), and that would be a huge mistake,” Poirier added. “That would be a huge mistake. I might be fighting Pacquiao.”
What do you think of Poirier’s comments?