Conor McGregor unleashed a mind games masterclass prior to his first fight with Dustin Poirier back in 2014, and ahead of their rematch in January of next year, ‘The Diamond’ has admitted that it got into his head.
“I was emotional in the first one,” Poirier confessed to MMAJunkie of the first fight, which he lost by TKO in the first round. “I wanted to hurt the guy. This time I just want to outsmart him, just want to beat him. This is business. This isn’t any ill will towards the guy.
“When I was younger, I used to fight with a lot of emotion. This isn’t the same thing for me. This isn’t about getting even for me. This isn’t like a revenge type of thing for me. This is about moving my career forward, about putting my family in a better spot. It’s not trying to get back a guy who got me. This is just business.”
Poirier certainly have matured since that match-up six years ago and has compiled a strong 10-2 (+1nc) record since, including having fought Khabib Nurmagomedov for the lightweight title last year.
Of course during that period McGregor was propelled to superstardom as he won both the featherweight and lightweight titles, and while he may not hold the belts any longer, Poirier is respectful of his ability.
“Watching footage and stuff like that, I can tell you the guy has one of the best counter-twos in the game. No doubt about it. His timing, his balance, his understanding of distance when guys are being too heavy on their front foot and throwing power shots. He’s a great counter puncher. He really is. I give him credit for that.
“I’m sure he’s always evolving and working to get better. I think people, because he’s been submitted, he’s such a big puncher, people underestimate his ground game. I think his jiu-jitsu and his grappling is better than people give him credit for. I really do. I’m not underestimating this guy in any aspect of mixed martial arts. I’m expecting him to come out as a mixed martial artist, not a boxer, not a one-puncher. He’s coming to fight, and so am I.”