Conor McGregor is set to return to the Octagon on January 24 after just over a year away, when the flamboyant Irishman tangles with American Dustin Poirier at UFC 257 at Fight Island, on Yas Island in Abu Dhabi. McGregor has made a typically exuberant prediction for how the fight will turn out, asserting that he’ll beat Poirier inside 60 seconds.
That is 20 seconds longer than it took ‘Mystic Mac’ to beat his previous opponent, Donald Cerrone. McGregor rates Poirier, just not enough to think that the American has any chance of beating him. “I love Dustin, he’s a good fighter. [Maybe] he’s even a great fighter, but great is still levels below me. I will knock Dustin out inside 60 seconds,” McGregor said during a UFC promotional video.
The pair have met before, of course, back in 2014 at UFC 178. McGregor won that night by first round TKO, a result achieved on the back of a bolting first round left hook that paved the way for a further devastating series of blows on Poirier.
That was only the Irishman’s fourth fight in UFC, back when he was still establishing his credentials as a contender in the featherweight division. He went on to claim the UFC interim featherweight crown around just under a year later when he overcame Chad Mendes. Since then, of course, he has gone to become a global celebrity and probably the most widely famous UFC fighter of all time.
Will McGregor fight Pacquiao?
His career has included taking on Floyd Mayweather in a boxing bout and there are rumours that McGregor has something similar planned if he beats Poirier. Media reports have indicated that the Irish fighter might be set to take on another legend of boxing in the shape of Manny Pacquiao.
There is also the possibility that a victory in the bout will put McGregor at the front of the queue when it comes to having a shot at the UFC lightweight belt. That title is currently held by Russian fighter Khabib Nurmagomedov. He is currently retired from the Octagon, but might be tempted to reactivate his career by UFC president Dana White, who is reportedly trying to entice the Russian out of retirement with a possible bout against Georges St Pierre.
The wait for that possible bout may turn out to be a long one, however, which raises the possibility that an interim champion may need to be crowned. Another possibility is that Nurmagomedov vacates his title entirely. Both of those possibilities put McGregor very much in the frame for a title bout should he beat Poirier.
McGregor should be wary of Poirier
The Irishman needs to be wary of Poirier, however, and viewing the contest as a foregone conclusion in favor of McGregor would be unwise. The American is a much more polished fighter since that first battle with McGregor back in 2014.
He has won 10 of 12 fights since then, with six of them coming via stoppage. One of those losses came against the mighty Nurmagomedov too - a fighter who has never yet been beaten. McGregor faced Nurmagomedov in 2018, with the Russian winning. He forced McGregor to submit with a chokehold, a victory which triggered some controversial scenes.
After facing McGregor for the first time, Poirier went on to defeat Max Holloway for the interim lightweight title. He has developed as a fighter in the just over six years since the first bout, but so has McGregor. UFC fans can expect fireworks when the two meet again.