Dustin Poirier knocked out UFC superstar Conor McGregor in a sensational second-round turnaround at UFC 257.
Upon his return to the Octagon after a sensational retirement last year, it was McGregor who seemed to come out of the gates faster when he battled Poirier at UFC Fight Island.
The Irishman appeared to have emerged better after a tough first round which saw both fighters do their melee work early when they were tied up against the cage.
He showed poise to pull himself out of the situation and return to striking range where the Irishman showed he still has the power and hand speed to catch up to his rival on more than one occasion .
Returning for the second, McGregor picked up where he left off, but some clinical work from Poirier seemed to rattle the former champion who didn’t look comfortable in his position.
McGregor’s damaged calf was all the invitation Poirier, who was waiting for this opportunity, needed as he squeezed his rival, choosing to go upstairs and trade with one of the biggest forwards in the division.
From there, Poirier lashed out, entering a brief period of frenzied brawling that allowed McGregor to unsuccessfully attempt to swing and make his way out of the cage until he was overwhelmed.
A left hook followed by a nose right had McGregor on the canvas before referee Herb Dean rushed in to stop the impending pitch and end the fight.
“It’s hard to get over inactivity over a long period of time,” said a visibly downtrodden McGregor after the loss.
“My leg was dead and I wasn’t as comfortable as I needed to be. It is inactivity.
“I have to dust it off and come back and that’s what I’m going to do.”
When asked if he would return or take another break from the sport, McGregor was steadfast.
“Of course [you’ll be seeing me again in 2021]”, he said.” I need activity, guys. Let’s go. You don’t get away with being inactive in this business and that’s how it is. “
“I’m gutted, to be honest I’m gutted. I put in so much work. It’s hard to swallow.
Meanwhile, it’s kudos for Poirier taking his record against McGregor to 1-1, and teasing a possible trilogy fight with the Irishman.
“Conor took this result very professionally here, he’s a pro, and I have nothing but respect,” said Poirier.
“We’re now 1-1, so you know maybe we’ll have to do it again.”
“I’m just happy. I’m happy with the pace I’m on, I’m happy with the man I see in the mirror.”
McGregor, whose previous four losses were all due to submission, remained on the canvas for moments afterward, rallying after his second loss in three fights since 2016.
McGregor and Poirier first met in September 2014 as a featherweight, and McGregor won by knockout in just 106 seconds in his incredible early career success.
McGregor became the featherweight champion 15 months later, while Poirier rebuilt his career with just one loss in his next 11 fights.