UFC 264 preview: Momentum favors Dustin Poirier in trilogy bout vs. Conor McGregor

·Combat columnist
·3-min read

LAS VEGAS — As Conor McGregor’s next fight approaches, on July 10 in the main event of UFC 264 at T-Mobile Arena against Dustin Poirier, the question keeps arising more frequently: What will happen to McGregor if he loses again?

McGregor was knocked out by Poirier in the second round of their bout at UFC 257 in Abu Dhabi on Jan. 24. making him 3-3 in his last six fights. He hasn’t won three in a row in more than five years, since a 15-bout winning streak ended with a submission to Nate Diaz at UFC 196 on March 5, 2016.

The answer to the question is simple: Nothing.

If McGregor wants to continue fighting in the UFC after the Poirier fight, he will. Period. End of story.

If you don’t believe that, remember that eight weeks ago, Donald Cerrone fought while 0-4 with a no-contest in his last five fights. Cerrone, who lost that night to Alex Morono, is nowhere near McGregor in terms of star level.

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UFC president Dana White allowed Cerrone to continue his career while on a significant losing streak. McGregor is the biggest draw in the history of the sport, and the UFC isn’t going to forbid him from fighting again if he wants to.

The best way to end such talk, though, is by winning the fight with Poirier. BetMGM has the odds in favor of Poirier at -120 as the series between them stands 1-1. McGregor finished Poirier in the first round of a featherweight bout at UFC 178 on Sept. 27, 2014. Poirier evened the second with a second-round stoppage at UFC 257.

Poirier has all the momentum. He’s 7-1 with a no-contest in his last nine, with the only loss coming by submission in a lightweight title fight to Khabib Nurmagomedov at UFC 242 on Sept. 7, 2019. Among his wins in the 7-1 streak are five men who held, at worst, a UFC interim title: McGregor, Max Holloway, Eddie Alvarez, Justin Gaethje and Anthony Pettis.

McGregor, though, came close to ending Poirier’s streak. After the bout at UFC 257, Poirier admitted that McGregor stung him and had him buzzed in the first round of their bout. McGregor didn’t realize how badly he was hurt and was cautious instead of wading in firing shots.

That shows the fine line between victory and defeat at the highest level of competition in the UFC.

For McGregor to reverse it, he’s probably going to have to incorporate more kicks into his arsenal. He’s an extraordinarily good kicker and mixing his attack would be a shrewd move.

But no matter what happens, don’t expect the Poirier fight to be his last UFC bout unless it’s what he wants. Given his status as an elite drawing card, he can go as long as he wants and will have little-to-nothing to worry about in terms of job security.

ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - JANUARY 22: (L-R) Opponents Dustin Poirier and Conor McGregor of Ireland face off during the UFC 257 weigh-in at Etihad Arena on UFC Fight Island on January 22, 2021 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)
Dustin Poirier and Conor McGregor will meet in the Octagon for a third time on Saturday, July 10 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)

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