Conor McGregor and Dustin Poirier are set to rematch at UFC 257 on Jan. 23. If you watched their first bout at featherweight, you can get a general idea of how they match-up. However both athletes have evolved substantially since then, leaving the question who has made the larger improvements. At first glance you would assume it is the man to become the first UFC double-champ, McGregor. Before making that assumption, let’s go over a few substantial factors.
Conor McGregor’s Path to Victory
McGregor will still have the stand-up advantage. His superior use of distance and his hammering left, make him dangerous in the early rounds. The issue is that McGregor’s style seems to be unsustainable in five round bouts. We’ve seen in his losses that as his energy bar drains, there is less pop on the punches. Of course he has also proven to be able to edge out decisions in late rounds. McGregor’s other concern is going to the ground. He has shown to have spectacular takedown defense or anti-wrestling, however should it go on the ground with a specialist like Diaz, he’s a fish out of water. Luckily, Poirier is not a ground specialist, but a more well-rounded striker. If McGregor pushes the issue early in the first two rounds, I would not be surprised to see the rematch going similarly to their first bout.
Dustin Poirier’s Path to Victory
Dustin is the man that has evolved more over the years in my opinion. Obviously he is the more active fighter, stacking up more experience. He also was more of a raw talent when the two met the first time. That doesn’t mean Poirier will now have the edge, but that experience and improvement will make the bout much more competitive. Should the former interim champ play it smart the first few rounds, avoiding that missile left from McGregor, his odds of winning will go up dramatically. Dustin is as gritty as it gets. He has the chin to take a few bombs in the later rounds to get in striking distance and either land his patented hooks or take it to the ground. Dustin may not be Khabib on the ground, but he does have a decent submission game to choke out a rusty McGregor.
McGregor vs. Poirier Prediction
Conor McGregor by second round TKO. Ring rust is not going to be an issue. We saw McGregor after a two year layoff, roll out of bed and take out Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone in seconds. That may have been against a weathered fighter, however that striking accuracy is still there, and may be even further refined, following McGregor’s boxing stint. Poirier may also prove to be putting too many miles on his body as well. A refreshed McGregor going against Poirier, coming off a five round war against Dan Hooker and others will be a factor here. That does not bode well for “The Diamond” in what may be his biggest profile fight to date, including his title fight against Khabib Nurmagomedov.