Poirier vs McGregor Analysis and Prediction
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Dustin Poirier (27-6) vs Conor McGregor (22-5)
While it may not have been the only factor behind Poirier’s victory, the low kick ruled supreme in his second contest with McGregor. Poirier vs McGregor involved the Irishman’s lead leg being torn apart and left wobbling by the second round. Moreover, by probing with a beautiful jab, Poirier had forced McGregor to initiate the opening exchanges. Rolling back with his awkward, elbow-raised shoulder roll, Poirier rolled with Conor’s lethal left straight and took away the patented sting. Far more comfortable on the back-foot than during their first bout, Poirier kept his eyes on the incoming shots rather than instinctively shelling up. As McGregor overextended and left excess weight on his lead leg, Poirier stabbed with a jab, threw a powerful counter right hook or chopped with a leg kick.
Perhaps overlooked after the visible success of the low kicks, Poirier’s shifting forward movement camouflaged an extra savvy takedown. Baiting an overhand out of the switching stances, Poirier instead changed levels and sat McGregor on his butt early. Although McGregor was able to get back to the feet and hold his own in the clinch, Poirier’s wrestling stemmed McGregor’s early offensive potency. By posing questions of the takedown to McGregor, Poirier forced McGregor to overextend further into his punches as to keep his hips far behind himself.
Fighting out of Southpaw, thus nullifying McGregor’s typical left high kick-left straight combo, Poirier appears to remain a stylistic nightmare for the Irishman at 155. Durable and possessing a frustrating guard, Poirier could easily once again ride an early storm to pull ahead of a flagging McGregor post-second round.
Trilogies have to be won if a fighter wants to be considered one of the best. While Featherweight Conor will always remain a mythical fighter, Lightweight Conor has never really achieved the same notoriety. If McGregor wants to avoid having his leg chewed up similarly, there are three realistic responses. Firstly, long front kicks can counter Poirier as he squares up to throw the calf kick. Secondly, fighting fire with fire and throwing his leg kicks. McGregor traded low kicks with Poirier at the start of the second round, and although too little too late, they still left a definitive mark. Finally, and perhaps most realistic, is to retract the lead leg. Checking a low kick is difficult due to the need to turn the leg while also planting it into the mat. Instead, McGregor showed a couple of times against Poirier that he is capable of reading then retracting his leg.
Poirier’s shoulder rolls and granite chin at 155 didn’t seem all that bothered by McGregor’s left-hand last time out. While it would be silly to question whether McGregor could spark Poirier’s lights, the open mid-rift of Poirier is a more assured route to victory. As Poirier rolls back and covers both sides of his chin, his open body has yet to be exploited by any fighter consistently. Max Holloway made a mark during the championship rounds of their rematch, but the early head-hunting had dropped too many rounds. While McGregor still leads with his face on the body straight, Poirier looked reluctant to counter on the rare times he focused the body.
It wasn’t all a Poirier blowout, however. McGregor did enjoy patches of success, often coming off the jab-lead hook into his famous left straight. By doubling up on the lead hand, McGregor closed the distance safely before enabling his left to work around Poirier’s guard. Follow up body kicks, or even a body jab, would create further issues for Porier and force a response. Also, while it may be a meme to think about, but McGregor can always surprise with his wrestling. Heavily under-utilised throughout his MMA career, McGregor showcased his wrestling chops many years ago against Max Holloway.
Predicted Result: Poirier TKO Round 3
In a make or break fight for McGregor, it makes it incredibly difficult to predict whether the Irishman is still capable of putting aside his ego and implementing necessary changes to his approach. Poirier’s low kick may have reigned supreme last time out, but his awkward shoulder rolls and crisp counter punching were also vital to Diamond’s victory. Poirier’s durability, southpaw stance and wrestling also created questions for McGregor, without considering the clear conditioning issues he experiences during the championship rounds.
Still, this is Conor McGregor. Ever dangerous in the first round, McGregor carries a nuclear-left hand alongside a canny knack of reading opponents from the get-go. Undoubtedly, McGregor will be capable of responding to Poirier’s kicking barrage by retracting his lead leg, trading low kicks or awkwardly checking the low kicks. Rather, McGregor’s biggest change needs to be towards his over-extension on the left straight. While McGregor was able to catch Poirier flush a couple of times, more often than not the Irishman was peppered with a sharp jab or hard right hook.
With a greater focus on Poirier’s body, wide open as a result of his awkward high guard, McGregor’s stabbing front kicks or a probing body jab would create Diamond real defensive issues. When considering the vast improvements made to Poirier’s game over the years, however, it is far safer to predict Poirier riding an early storm before finishing an exhausted McGregor.
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