Return of the Notorious
One of the most iconic figures in all of sports finally makes his return to the octagon as “The Notorious” Conor McGregor is back Saturday night. It won’t be an easy night for McGregor though as he is welcomed back by former foe Dustin “The Diamond” Poirier.
Poirier and McGregor first fought each other at UFC 178 at featherweight. The two talked trash for months, each wanting to knock the other out. Unfortunately for Poirier, he would get TKO’ed in the first round. After the loss, Poirier would move up to lightweight and win his first four fights - three of them coming by KO/TKO.
Poirier suffered a knockout loss to Michael Johnson but rebounded well by defeating veteran Jim Miller by unanimous decision. Poirier’s next fight against former UFC lightweight champion Eddie Alvarez would end as a No Contest after Alvarez landed an illegal knee to Poirier. Poirier followed with an impressive win streak that saw him face former/current champions - former UFC lightweight champion Anthony Pettis, former WSOF lightweight champion and former UFC interim lightweight champion Justin Gaethje, Eddie Alvarez and former UFC featherweight champion Max Holloway (who was the champion at featherweight when he and Poirier fought at lightweight for an interim lightweight belt). In the fight against Holloway, Poirier was competing for the UFC interim lightweight belt and a chance to unify the belt against undisputed champion Khabib Nurmagomedov. Poirier was the underdog against Holloway, but almost immediately in the fight the power difference was noticeable as Poirier landed big shots that hurt Holloway and had him staggering. The two put on a show that saw Poirier finally claim gold as he defeated Holloway by unanimous decision.
Poirier, ranked No. 2, was unsuccessful in his attempt to unify the belt with Nurmagomedov. Poirier lost the fight against Khabib by third-round submission but bounced back last June against Dan Hooker by winning by unanimous decision in what many felt was a Fight of the Year contender in 2020.
Poirier once again is the underdog in the rematch against McGregor, but this isn’t the same fighter from the first fight in 2014. Poirier has such crisp boxing with a great ground game. Poirier can win anywhere the fights go, whereas McGregor is only believed to have a chance if he knocks his opponents out in either the first or second round due to not having the best cardio in past fights. This is one of the biggest fights for Poirier, so expect the former interim champion to dig deep to get his hand raised on Saturday.
McGregor, currently ranked No. 4, is one of the biggest figures in all sports around the world. McGregor made his UFC debut in 2013 against Marcus Brimmage and made quick work of Brimmage, TKO’ing him in the first round. McGregor made it known he was here to be the best and went on a run to never be forgotten -defeating the likes of Poirier, Holloway and Chad Mendes en route to a title shot.
After defeating Dennis Siver in January 2015, the loud-mouthed Irishman was set to face featherweight G.O.A.T. and then UFC featherweight champion Jose Aldo at UFC 189. Weeks before the event, Aldo had to pull out due to an injury, so Mendes stepped in and the fight was then for the UFC interim featherweight belt. McGregor was expected to have a tough time since he never fought a wrestler in the UFC and Mendes was such a high-level wrestler. McGregor faced adversity in the second when he got taken down and was eating some elbows but made it back to his feet and TKO’ed Mendes to become interim featherweight champion.
McGregor and Aldo faced off at UFC 194 to unify the belt. There was a lot of bad blood between the two, as McGregor took every chance he got to mock and talk trash to Aldo. When it was time to fight, McGregor shocked the world and knocked out Aldo in just 13 seconds.
In the aftermath of his title match, McGregor had back-to-back wars against Nate Diaz at welterweight. Each fighter won one fight. McGregor got back to the title fights when he took on Eddie Alvarez for the UFC lightweight championship at UFC 205 to become the first fighter in UFC history to hold two titles simultaneously. McGregor was untouchable that night and TKO’ed Alvarez in the second.
McGregor then campaigned for a super fight with all-time great boxer Floyd Mayweather, and surprisingly, got the fight. The biggest fight in combat sports history went down on Aug. 26, 2017. McGregor held his own, winning the first four rounds, but would slow down and get TKO’ed in the 10th.
McGregor returned to the MMA world to face Khabib for the lightweight title at UFC 229, but would lose by fourth-round submission. Afterwards, a brawl broke out between the two teams that took multiple security guards to break up. McGregor wouldn’t return until last January when he took on Donald Cerrone at UFC 246. McGregor showed why he’s still one of the best in the world as it only took 40 seconds to dispatch Cerrone by TKO. Although McGregor is one of the biggest icons in the sports world, he still hasn’t made the best decisions outside the octagon. McGregor has attacked a bus full of fighters, breaking the glass and injuring three people, punchEd an old man in a bar just because he wouldn’t drink his whiskey and faced multiple accusations against him from multiple women. McGregor is a great fighter, but his actions shouldn’t be overlooked.
The first PPV event of 2021 is set to be a great card, and I’m picking Poirier to win by fourth round TKO. Watch all of the amazing fights this Saturday on ESPN+ PPV!