Now that Conor McGregor vs. Dustin Poirier 2 is official, we can take what both men say with a little less grain of salt. Anything can still happen, but right now the UFC says the fight will go ahead on January 23 at UFC 257.
With the fight on the horizon (probably), Poirier spoke to MMA Junkie about the rematch and about the first time he tangled with the Dubliner.
“I was emotional in the first one,” admitted Poirier. I wanted to hurt the guy. This time I just want to outsmart him, just want to beat him. This is business. This isn’t any ill will towards the guy.”
Poirier’s first fight with McGregor came at UFC 178 in 2014. The fight didn’t make it out of the first round after McGregor clipped Poirier behind the ear with his fabled left hand.
After the fight McGregor continued to go undefeated in the UFC leading to his 13 second KO of Jose Aldo and his lifting of the UFC featherweight title at UFC 194 in December 2015.
For Poirier, after McGregor, his record is 10-2 (1 NC) with highlight-filled wins over former champions Anthony Pettis, Eddie Alvarez and Max Holloway. The only blemishes on that record are a KO to Michael Johnson in 2016 and a submission loss in a title fight versus Khabib Nurmagomedov last year.
Poirier said that learning to control his emotions played a pivotal role in his career resurgence post the McGregor loss. And he said that control would serve him well on January 23.
“When I was younger, I used to fight with a lot of emotion. This isn’t the same thing for me. This isn’t about getting even for me. This isn’t like a revenge type of thing for me. This is about moving my career forward, about putting my family in a better spot. It’s not trying to get back a guy who got me. This is just business.”
Poirier also spoke about what he expects from McGregor this time around. And he was sure to point out he has a lot of respect for his opponent’s game (and power).
“Watching footage and stuff like that, I can tell you the guy has one of the best counter-twos in the game. No doubt about it. His timing, his balance, his understanding of distance when guys are being too heavy on their front foot and throwing power shots. He’s a great counter puncher. He really is. I give him credit for that.”
Poirier added that he also has a lot of respect for McGregor’s abilities outside of the striking department.
“I’m sure he’s always evolving and working to get better. I think people, because he’s been submitted, he’s such a big puncher, people underestimate his ground game. I think his jiu-jitsu and his grappling is better than people give him credit for. I really do. I’m not underestimating this guy in any aspect of mixed martial arts. I’m expecting him to come out as a mixed martial artist, not a boxer, not a one-puncher. He’s coming to fight, and so am I.”
Despite his appreciation for the ‘Notorious’ one’s game, ‘The Diamond’ said he was steadfast in his confidence of getting his hand raised come fight night; especially since McGregor might already have an eye on a future opponent—boxing legend Manny Pacquiao.
“He might be (overlooking me), and that would be a huge mistake.”