Making his Octagon return for the time in just over a year at UFC 257 on Saturday, former two-weight world champion, ‘The Notorious’ Conor McGregor succumbed to strikes in his lightweight rematch against Dustin ‘The Diamond’ Poirier, and head coach, John Kavanagh already has plans to address some “technical issues” as he put it, from his second-round knockout loss.
Claiming the opening round against two-time foe, Poirier, McGregor ate a couple of nasty calf kicks from the American Top Team mainstay, who was flanked in his corner by renowned striker, former welterweight title challenger, Thiago ‘The Pitbull’ Alves. The 32-year-old also suffered an opening-round single-leg takedown from the masterful Poirier, before the two exchanged some good counters of their own after a clinch battle at the fence.
Noticeably feeling the effects of Poirier’s somewhat surprising leg kick offence in the second round, McGregor’s southpaw lead seemed to buckle before the Lafayette native stunned him with a sharp flurry at the fence. Attempting to find a much-needed exit, McGregor was clipped with a flush right hook from Poirier, sending him to his back before the first of two ground shots rendered him unconscious. The stoppage defeat marked the first time McGregor had been finished with strikes in his professional mixed martial arts career.
It’s total redemption for Poirier who brings the tie level at one-a-piece from their two outings against each other and puts himself in prime position to challenge for lightweight gold in his next walk, be that against current champion, Khabib Nurmagomedov, which seems unlikely, or even with a vacant title up for grabs. The Louisianan has already poured cold water on a floated vacant title affair between himself and co-main event winner, Michael Chandler, noting how he’d be interested in clashing with the streaking, Charles ‘Do Bronx’ Oliveira instead, or even a trilogy with McGregor, or a grudge-match with once-scheduled foe, Nate Diaz.
Releasing a statement on the Wimp2Warrior Instagram page, Straight Blast Gym leader, Kavanagh reflected on Saturday’s result and performance against Poirier, detailing how the camp is in good spirits as they remain in Dubai — with plans to right the technical wrongs ahead of an Octagon return.
“We had a big fight and unfortunately this time, we came up short but here’s the secret; you live with it, we are all disappointed but we’re OK!” Kavanagh said. “In Conor’s (McGregor) case, certainly, the last six months have been amazing. The discipline and effort that he’s put in. When you’ve done that when you’ve left no stone unturned, you’ve made every training session, you made weight the right way, you’ve made the walk, you competed as hard as you possibly could.“
“Competition has two sides to the coin — winning and losing — and sometimes it’s going to fall on the losing side. That’s something you have to get used to — the quicker you get used to failing, the quicker you are going to have success.“
“We’ve woken up this morning, we’re back on the yacht in Dubai and guess what, the sun rose and we all still love Conor. We are going to pick ourselves up and figure out some of the technical issues that went against us on the night, fix them, get back up on the horse and go again. Win or learn.” (H/T Pundit Arena)
Saturday’s Octagon appearance for McGregor marked the first time in twelve months that he had competed, and prior to last January’s forty-second knockout win over Donald ‘Cowboy’ Cerrone, you’d be pushed back another fifteen months to find his Octagon outing against the above mentioned, Nurmagomedov at UFC 229.
Speaking with UFC commentator, Jon Anik afterwards, a dejected McGregor spoke of his disappointment in the result and claimed he’s still gunning for an active schedule in 2021, detailing how one can’t expect to be at their best come fight night if they approach Octagon appearances in a sporadic fashion.