Dustin Poirier appeared to gain the upperhand in a big way during the first round of his trilogy fight against Conor McGregor after he got on top of him and started landing big ground-and-pound blows, but ‘The Diamond’ has now claimed that he actually believes he was close to finishing him on the feet before that.
“We threw crosses at the same time,” Poirier recalled on ‘The Fight With Teddy Atlas’ podcast. “I slipped his, and I kind of threw a looping cross that touched him good, and now I know. I saw the same eyes that I saw in Abu Dhabi when I hurt him on the feet. He makes a certain expression, and his reaction is a certain way when he’s hurt, and now I’ve seen it twice. He was hurt before the grappling and him clinching and the takedown and all that. He was hurt on the feet, and I really feel like if he wouldn’t have engaged in the clinch, I think I would have finished him there. I saw the same look in his eyes, and I knew I was a punch or two away from sitting him down.”
It certainly was interesting that McGregor went to the mat with a guillotine choke as he’d made a big deal of stating pre-fight that “the first one that shoots for a takedown is a dusty b–ch.”
The fact that it ended up being ‘The Notorious’ who earned that dubious moniker suggests that something wasn’t going according to plan for him, so perhaps Poirier’s theory is correct, or it could be that he already felt his leg was compromised by that stage and was adjusting his gameplan on the fly.
Either way, Poirier has been left less than impressed by McGregor’s post-fight excuses, including his claims that he was dealing with ankle issues and stress fractures.
“There were a lot of excuses in the last one, too,” Poirier recalled. “He was getting ready to box, he wasn’t focusing on mixed martial arts, he was getting ready to fight Manny Pacquiao, and a lot of reasons. A lot of excuses. …
“If you’re training for a fight, you’re going to go into fight week with something going on. Whether it’s an elbow, a wrist, a hand, an ankle, something’s gonna be busted up.”
Poirier also questioned McGregor’s decision to utilize leg kicks early and often in their third encounter if the limb was such a problem for him in the weeks leading up to the bout.
“It’s not a smart game plan if it is hurt. Especially where he was kicking. He was kicking not my thigh or my calf muscle; he was kicking at my knee. It was bone on bone. I wouldn’t … even with technique, usually you want to set up these kicks. He was throwing them by themselves. Usually you want to punch before you kick, just to set it up, just to get me thinking about something else.
“He was throwing kicks by themselves, single kicks by themselves directly on my knee. Maybe it was in his head that he needed to come out and show me that he can do it too, because I tore his leg up in the second fight. I have no clue what him and his coaches were thinking.”
In the end, Poirier is just satisfied to have emerged with a second consecutive win over McGregor and isn’t looking to dwell on what happened for too long as he looks forward to time off with his family and then a lightweight title fight later in the year.
“I’m trying not to read too far into it or go down these days of reading what videos are out and what people are saying, because I’m back home with my family. It’s a win on my record. I know I did what I needed to do in the fight, pre-fight, in my training camp.
“I crossed and checked all the boxes I needed to check, gave it my all and then went out there and – like we’re saying, it’s noise. Whatever people are gonna say or he’s gonna say, it is what it is. I’m healthy, I’m safe, I’m back home, have another win on my record, and I’m still the No. 1 contender, so those are facts.”