The rubber match between Dustin Poirier and Conor McGregor at UFC 264 didn’t exactly have a satisfactory ending. McGregor suffered a lower tibia fracture towards the end of round one and the fight was stopped shortly after the horn sounded. It’s not officially known what caused the break but Poirier suggested it was after a checked low kick that Conor threw. That’s something considering how poorly McGregor dealt with Poirier’s low kicks in their second fight.
While the ending was unfortunate there was no doubt who took the opening round. McGregor had some offensive moments but otherwise got clipped a few times and he initiated the first grappling sequence While he did land an upkick and some elbows from his back, he also ate some hard elbows and other strikes on the mat after a failed guillotine attempt (again, an amusing decision considering earlier in the week he said he only counted knockouts). They stood back up in the closing seconds — Poirier claims this was in frustration after he said McGregor was grabbing his gloves — and you know what happened after that.
McGregor has rightly earned the reputation as a legendarily quick starter. He almost always wins round 1, but on this occasion he was on the wrong end of what was a majority 10-8 score from the judges.
Derek Cleary and Junichiro Kamijo both saw it 10-8 in Poirier’s favor, while Sal D’Amato scored it 10-9. When McGregor fell back and hurt his leg it initially looked like a knockdown from a punch, but that wasn’t really the case so it’s possible that thinking Poirier dropped him with a clean shot factored into the scoring. UFC Stats had Poirier outlanding McGregor 36-27 in significant strikes, but 28-9 on the ground.
Ultimately the scoring didn’t matter, but had there not been an injury it would’ve been an uphill climb for McGregor against someone who’s built for five-round wars, whereas Conor’s only real rally from a deficit came against Chad Mendes back at UFC 189.