The 'simple' weakness plaguing McGregor
When Conor McGregor disposed of Donald Cerrone in just 40 seconds over a year ago – it was widely acknowledged the UFC was easing their prized asset back into the swing of things with a tune up fight, .
Fast-forward a year, UFC boss Dana White could have taken the same approach considering the Irishman's limited activity during 2020, and it would have been a sure bet the fight would be a strong seller no matter who he faced in the octagon.
While the bettors are so sure , with the superstar attracting a couple of wagers of over $100,000, the general consensus is Poirier poses more of a threat than Cerrone, especially if he can stretch the fight into the latter rounds.
McGregor has only fought twice in the octagon in the last three years. He fought for 40 seconds in 2020 and has gone three rounds in his 22-fight career only three times. He's gone to five rounds just once and has had 12 fights end in less than two minutes, while five victories have come in 40 seconds or less.
The Irishman's weakness has long been identified as endurance with most of his losses coming late. Even in his exhibition bout against Floyd Mayweather in 2017 he lost his legs in a TKO loss in the 10th round. Throw in his limited activity over recent years, the longer the fight goes the more unpredictable it becomes.
"Khabib, Nate Diaz they both did great jobs (beating McGregor)," UFC Featherweight champion Alex Volkanovski told Wide World of Sports.
"Diaz was able to weather the storm and you saw Conor McGregor slow down as the rounds go. It's a fact now, you know what I mean?
"He's very fast twitched and it's very hard for someone like that to last five rounds especially when you're pulling the trigger and being explosive the whole way through.
"I guarantee you that's what Poirier wants to do, but is he going to get the chance when Conor gets in his face? We might see him panic and get caught."
After getting finished by champion Nurmagomedov in 2019, Poirier's time as a top contender was in peril. Then he put in a warrior-like display against New Zealand star Dan Hooker, in a fight that was dubbed the fight of the year in 2020. The bloodbath against the Kiwi showed he can flourish as a fighter the longer the battle goes on.
"Poirier showed he can go well in the later rounds. Max Holloway, Dustin, Gaethje they really put it on late in the fight because they have big gas tanks," said the Featherweight champion.
"But early on he does get hit, he does get tagged as well, and if he fights that fight against Conor it doesn't go further than the first round. He doesn't want to fight that fight but I believe McGregor will make him fight that fight."
Poirier has won 10 fights since his 2014 first round loss to McGregor. However, since the defeat most within the UFC say he's a different fighter and the man himself declared he has more control over his emotions now.
The Louisiana fighter has seven career submission wins. All of McGregor's four defeats have come by submission and the Irish star has never lost on points or been knocked out. How the underdog handles himself in the early moments of the fight will be telling, according to Volkanovski.
"Conor puts the pressure on you not only in the press conferences and all that, he really gets in your face and doesn't give you a chance to get into rhythm," he said.
"He makes you panic. He's made fighters panic punch in the past and then counters. You can't let him do that. You can't let him make you throw when he wants you to.
"You need to make him fight you at your rhythm. Poirier has to be more clever because Conor has strong hands you have to give him credit."