Dan Hardy was spot on in his pre-fight assessment of Dustin Poirier vs. Conor McGregor.
“If Poirier can start chopping away at that lead leg, it nullifies big chunks of McGregor’s game,” Hardy said in the weeks leading up to the UFC 257 main event between Poirier and McGregor. “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.”
The leg kicks were, indeed, a major path to victory for Poirier as the Louisianan effectively nullified McGregor’s movement and distance management in the second round by chopping away at the latter’s lead leg. Poirier ended up trapping McGregor against the cage and KO’ing him with a vicious flurry of punches, becoming the first ever fighter to finish ‘The Notorious’ with strikes.
McGregor, who was seen walking with a cane after the fight, agreed that the leg kicks nullified his striking and credited Poirier for executing the perfect gameplan on Saturday night.
“I’ll certainly regroup,” McGregor said at the UFC 257 post-fight press conference (h/t Ryan Harkness of MMA Mania). “I’ll regroup and pick myself up off the floor and go again and that’s it. Styles make fights, there are many great stylistic matchups out there. Me and Dustin are 1-1, myself and Nate are 1-1. There are many good matchups for me and I’ll adopt a different approach for a trilogy with Dustin because those leg kicks are not to be messed with.
“That calf kick. I’ve never experienced that, and it’s a good one. It’s not that I don’t have the style in me to switch it up and keep that at bay. I’ve a lot more weapons I didn’t get to show. It wasn’t my night. Wasn’t a great night.”
McGregor is still determined to reclaim the UFC lightweight title and hopes to be more active upon his return.
“I would like to get in and get back on the horse and secure the new belt with the Irish flag on it, for sure. And anything can happen in this business so long as you stay active, so long as you compete. Things shape around you. You show up and you reap the rewards, and that’s it. That’s what happened for Dustin tonight, and what happened against me tonight. So I’ll keep my eye on the prize, for sure.”
The former two-division champion is 2-2 in his last four fights and currently #4 in the UFC lightweight rankings.