American Kickboxing Academy head coach Javier Mendez favors Conor McGregor to come out on top against Dustin Poirier.
The pair are set to collide in a rematch that will take place at lightweight in the UFC 257 headliner on January 23 in Abu Dhabi’s Fight Island.
McGregor, of course, already defeated Poirier in the past when he knocked him out during their 2014 featherweight clash.
And having prepared pupil Khabib Nurmagomedov for both fighters in recent years, Mendez is giving the edge to McGregor due to his striking ability.
That said, he’s not counting Poirier out entirely.
“I favor Conor because he’s the better precision striker, and taking Conor to the ground is going to be no easy task for Dustin,” Mendez said on “The Schmozone Podcast” (via MMA Junkie). “So Dustin is going to have to grit it out, get inside and grind it out if he’s able to.
“Anything is possible, they’re both world class athletes, but I definitely favor Conor because of the striking aspect. He’s the master striker in the lightweight division. So I favor Conor, but I’m not counting out Dustin by any means.”
Should Nurmagomedov remain retired, it’s possible the winner of McGregor vs. Poirier could get the next title shot at the very least — assuming the fight isn’t already changed to a vacant title fight.
And Mendez has no problem with that given that Poirier is in the mix.
“If in fact (Nurmagomedov is) not coming back, then the rightful person that should be fighting for the title is Dustin against anybody,” Mendez added. “So, to me, they got one of the right persons in there, and Conor would be the second right one. Justin Gaethje could be the next guy, or it could be Michael Chandler. It doesn’t matter, or Oliveira.
“What matters is that Dustin is in the title hunt because he’s the one, in my opinion, that’s most deserving of a title shot.”
Do you agree with Mendez?