If Dustin Poirier is looking to take Conor McGregor down at UFC 257, ‘The Diamond’ could be in for rude surprise.
That’s according to top-three welterweight Gilbert Burns, who believes McGregor is a severely underrated defensive grappler, pointing to ‘The Notorious’s’ grappling handiwork against Nate Diaz at UFC 196.
“He’s (Conor McGregor) good,” Burns said in a recent video on his YouTube channel (h/t Derek Hall of Middle Easy). “People think he’s very bad, but he’s very good. People don’t remember he swept Nate Diaz in their first fight. I think he’s very underrated. People say, ‘All you have to do is take him down.’ First of all, when the guy controls the distance like Conor (McGregor), it’s not easy to take the guy down.“
Burns also credited McGregor’s kicking game for his flexibility on the mat while acknowledging that the Irishman is by no means a natural grappler. McGregor was, after all, submitted by Diaz at UFC 196 but showed resilience against Khabib Nurmagomedov before being forced to tap to a neck crank in the fourth round.
“Another thing that people don’t realise is those guys that kick a lot, they develop a lot power in their hips,” Burns said. “So those hips are very flexible and very strong. It’s that type of flexibility and strength that is the same one that you use to defend the takedowns. The point is, Conor’s Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is not bad. People underestimate that, but he is a good grappler the way I see. For sure, he’s not a grappler. It’s not a natural thing. It’s not his natural thing, but for sure he’s put a lot of focus on that.”
UFC 257: Poirier vs. McGregor 2 will take place later this month, Jan 23 at UFC Fight Island in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.