Dustin Poirier vowed to shock the world and he did just that as the Diamond poured cold water on Conor McGregor’s UFC comeback with a vicious second round knockout victory.
The Irishman pledged to secure a first round knockout, as he had achieved seven years ago, but this time he promised to finish the former interim lightweight champion inside 60 seconds.
Dustin Poirier has knocked out Conor McGregor to send a shock through the lightweight ranks
The Diamond vowed to upset the odds in his highly-anticipated rematch with the Irishman
And having survived McGregor’s typical fast start, Poirier got in his groove and found his range
However, Poirier, 32, rode the expected storm in the first round, landing an early takedown before exchanging rapid exchanges against the fence as the pair repeatedly switched positions.
The American consistently attacked McGregor’s lead right leg, which worsened as the opening five minutes unfolded.
Having established his range, Poirier slipped McGregor’s fluent punches and upped the tempo, taking centre of the ring and unleashing a flurry of strikes that the Notorious simply had no answer for.
Poirier snapped the Irishman’s head back with a beautiful uppercut, sending McGregor sprawling before following up with a strong right hook that left the former two-weight world champion in a daze.
Poirier taunts the Irishman after picking his shots towards the end of the first round
The American upped the tempo in the second and blitzed McGregor with a flurry of strikes
The Notorious, 32, had no answer for Poirier’s volume of strikes and the fight was waved off
Only seconds later did referee Herb Dean step into wave off the contest and hand the Diamond a monumental victory to shake up the lightweight division.
Poirier’s win moves him into prime position to fight for UFC gold once more, having lost to the all-conquering Khabib Nurmagomedov back in September 2019.
‘I’m happy man but I’m not surprised, I put in the work,’ he told Jon Anik in his post-fight interview.
‘First off I gotta say Conor has taken this result very professionally. [We are] one and one, maybe we have to do it again. I’m happy with the place where I’m at. The win is great, but I’m fighting for bigger things back home with my good fight foundation. I love my wife, I love my city and I love my foundation.
The former interim champion talks with Dana White following his sensational victory
A dejected McGregor watches on after failing to mark his UFC return with a victory
Poirier consoles the former two-weight world champion following his victory on Saturday
‘The goal was to be technical and pick my shots, to not brawl at all. I can box very technically but I have a tendency of going crazy and getting in trouble. Max Holloway thinks he is the best boxer but I have beat the kid twice. Nothing against the kid.
‘We’ll see [about a future title shot], I felt like this was a title fight. I am the champion.’
McGregor’s defeat represents a huge setback to his plans to regain his lightweight title. The Irishman was hoping a victory over Poirier would set up a rematch with arch rival Nurmagomedov, having lost to the Dagestani in October 2018.
Saturday’s loss, which is McGregor’s first defeat by knockout, leaves questions over his championship prospects. The Irishman was filmed walking on crutches after the fight, such was the damage inflicted by Poirier.
‘It’s heartbreaking, it’s hard to take, highest highs and the lowest lows,’ he said in the post-fight press conference. ‘My leg is completely dead – even though I felt like I was checking them I was badly compromised. It is like an American football in my suit at the minute.
‘Dustin had a hell of a fight. I felt alright in the second round, felt better than him in the clinch but too little too late – my leg was compromised and I didn’t adjust.
‘Fair play to Dustin, I am happy for him. I am happy to compete in these challenging times. I don’t know where I am at the minute. He fought a hell of a fight but what can you do, I am happy for him.’
The Irishman exits the Etihad Arena after suffering a second-round defeat to the Diamond
Saturday’s defeat raises questions over where McGregor goes next as a UFC fighter
White compared McGregor to Rocky Balbao in Rocky III, questioning the Notorious’ motivation.
‘Look, there is two ways this goes – hungrier or I’m done, he’s got the money,’ he said in the post-fight press conference.
‘This is like Rocky III, when you get offered a 300 foot yacht, it is tough to be a savage when he is living like he is.
UFC supremo Dana White questioned McGregor’s ‘hunger’ to continue fighting at the top level
‘When he was a young kid he was hungry, now he has got everything he ever wanted so I don’t know, it goes this way or that way.’
White also admitted he has low expectations of Khabib Nurmagomedov returning to the octagon after Saturday’s showing, revealing that the Dagestani told him he was ‘so many levels above’ his competition.
‘I did talk to Khabib [after the fight],’ White revealed. ‘He said to me “Dana be honest with yourself, I’m so many levels above these guys, I’d beat these guys.”
‘It doesn’t sound very positive so we’ll see. I’ve told you guys before he won’t hold the division up. He’s basically retired…’
Nurmagomedov took to Twitter to taunt his former rival, saying: ‘This is what happened, when you change your team, leave the sparring partners who made you a champion and sparring with little kids, far away from reality.’
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