Former UFC welterweight title challenger turned ESPN commentator and analyst Dan Hardy believes leg kicks could be a major path to victory for Dustin Poirier against Conor McGregor at UFC 257.
Although no fighter has ever successfully utilized leg kicks against McGregor, Hardy believes Poirier could exploit that potential chink in the Irishman’s armour on fight night.
‘The Outlaw’ gave a technical breakdown of the lightweight matchup on his YouTube channel earlier this month (h/t Abhinav Kini of The Body Lock).
“He’s [McGregor] fighting another southpaw here and what we know about McGregor is because he lifts all of his weight off his rear leg when he’s fighting, he puts all of his weight on his lead leg,” Hardy said. “So if Poirier can start chopping away at that lead leg, it nullifies big chunks of McGregor’s game. It effectively breaks the handle of the spear because McGregor now can’t plant all of his weight onto that lead leg to throw that left hand over the top with all his power. Because that leg is going to be dead and to put weight on it is going to be painful.
“We know how effective a calf kick can be. A calf kick being singular. You only need to land one in the right shot and that can effectively be a round or two where that is a nullified limb. If Poirier is able to land that early, the threat of the left hand is significantly diminished as well as the kicking game. Because the majority of it is left leg so he needs to plant all of his weight on his right leg to throw all of those kicks.
“So if you dismantle that leg in the early rounds, that puts Poirier in a position where he can force McGregor into a position where he may have to work, clinch or wrestle. And that forces him to work which — long-term game plan — would be valuable.”
McGregor does put a lot of weight on his lead leg but ‘The Notorious’ knows exactly when to pull in and out of exchanges and has a very solid kicking game of his own.
UFC 257: Poirier vs. McGregor takes place Saturday, Jan. 23 at the Etihad Arena in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.