Conor McGregor returns at UFC 257 with huge desires intact4 min read
Conor McGregor had formidable plans for 2020. Like most all people’s huge plans final 12 months, they have been ruined by the coronavirus pandemic.
Now safely contained in the UFC’s Fight Island bubble, the most well-liked man in fight sports activities is getting again to work on undertaking all the pieces he got down to do when he rededicated himself to combating over a 12 months in the past.
“I feel like I’m only starting, man,” the 32-year-old McGregor stated this week. “Everyone wants to say, ‘Hey, Conor, you’ve done it all! You’re so rich! You’re richer than Dana! What are you doing here?’ I want to be here. I want to perform for the fans.”
McGregor (22-4) returns at UFC 257 in Abu Dhabi on Sunday for a rematch with Dustin Poirier, a fellow energy puncher with a aptitude for dramatic finishes. The winner of this pay-per-view occasion airing Saturday night time in North America shall be one battle away from regaining the light-weight title each males have held in recent times.
UFC 257 is co-headlined by title-contending lightweights Dan Hooker and Michael Chandler, who’s making his UFC debut after a decade within the rival Bellator promotion.
McGregor now struggles to conjure the trash-talking, flamboyant persona that after made him extra well-known than something he had but achieved within the octagon. Now financially safe and elevating a younger household, McGregor nonetheless lives a wild life at occasions, however it’s cushioned by a rising sense of his finite time left in sports activities — regardless of his brash pronouncements of youth — and his analysis of his legacy.
“All the money, all the belts, all that comes and that goes,” McGregor stated. “You know what lives on? A fighter’s highlights. Look at Roy Jones Jr.’s highlights, Mike Tyson’s highlights. I still look at them today. Ali’s highlights. I want my highlight reel to be like a movie. That’s what I’m after. I’m looking to get in and perform and put on amazing highlights that I can sit as an old man with my son, and just watch back and just enjoy life.”
When McGregor knocked out veteran welterweight Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone in simply 40 seconds final January, he appeared set for a ferocious return to the game he had largely uncared for for the earlier three years. McGregor spoke of eager to battle 4 occasions in 2020, culminating in one other shot at light-weight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov.
The pandemic understandably curtailed these plans, however Nurmagomedov’s retirement after beating Justin Gaethje final fall cleared a path to regaining the light-weight belt for McGregor or Poirier. Both males have already got misplaced to Nurmagomedov, who has despatched blended alerts about his chance of reneging on his retirement vow.
Despite dropping 15 kilos from his final battle, McGregor seems snug and wholesome at 155 kilos, the place he has gained only one battle in his profession, beating Eddie Alvarez in 2016 to change into the primary fighter in UFC historical past to carry two division titles concurrently.
McGregor and Poirier have been even smaller — two up-and-coming featherweights — once they met in September 2014 within the third-billed bout at UFC 178. McGregor stopped Poirier simply 1:46 into the opening spherical, touchdown an enormous left hook to the ear that ended the motion swiftly.
Poirier (26-6) may have been crushed by the loss, significantly whereas he watched McGregor’s ascent. Instead, he gained 9 of his subsequent 11 fights, even capturing the interim light-weight title for 4 1/2 months in 2019 with a formidable win over Max Holloway.
Poirier is among the many most sturdy and most profitable UFC fighters of his technology, rating tenth within the promotion’s historical past with 18 UFC victories and seventh with 11 post-fight bonuses. A ferocious striker with a excessive work charge, he has six knockout victories as a light-weight.
“Every fight is a chip on my shoulder,” Poirier stated. “I’m trying to prove something. The work that I put in, I’m trying to make it pay off. I’m trying to put my family in a better position, and this is no different. I know what a win over Conor McGregor means in combat sports, and I know that whoever wins this fight is fighting for gold, and that’s why I fight.”
Although McGregor and Poirier are each well-versed within the promotional software of performative verbal sparring, they’ve been mannequin residents in Abu Dhabi. Both males have been unfailingly well mannered to one another, and McGregor’s firm even made a beneficiant donation to Poirier’s charitable basis.
At their ultimate information convention, Poirier laughed on the paucity of ferocity between the UFC 257 main-event fighters, saying it’d look like “we’re up here giving each other back massages.”
“I know we have this competitive fire, and it’s still there,” McGregor added. “There’s no denying that. We’re going to have a clash, and it’s going to be a good, firework-filled bout, but the respect is admirable for this man from me.”