Conor McGregor has a crystal clear path again to light-weight championship gold.
A win for McGregor over Dustin Poirier of their UFC 264 rubber match, which headlines the ESPN+ pay-per-view occasion from T-Cell Enviornment in Las Vegas on Saturday, and, to cite the Irishman, “the king is again.”
“If he wins, he can do no matter he desires, to be fully sincere with you,” UFC coloration commentator and retired light-weight Paul Felder not too long ago instructed The Publish in a cellphone interview. “He can combat for the belt. … Why not? [UFC lightweight champion] Charles Oliveira could be foolish to not need to take that paycheck.”
However a loss? That’s the place it’s much less minimize and dried, in Felder’s estimation. If McGregor (22-5, 20 finishes) have been to placed on a detailed, five-round warfare with Poirier, who gained such a bout final June in what was maybe the 2020 combat of the yr towards Dan Hooker, that would depart loads of potentialities open to the UFC’s high moneymaker.
These potentialities would vanish, nevertheless, if Poirier (27-6, 20 finishes), who has as viable a declare to being the game’s finest 155-pounder as Oliveira himself, have been to finish the previous two-division champion’s evening early.
“If [McGregor] will get KO’d, it’s actual unhealthy,” Felder mentioned. “I don’t know what he will get [next], perhaps the [Nate] Diaz combat once more or one thing like that. Nevertheless it nonetheless doesn’t have that attract to it. … To see him exit and get KO’d twice in a row or, God forbid, submitted, I believe it’s in direction of the tip. I believe that is likely to be it for actually seeing him in any aggressive fights to get to the belt, which might be unlucky for him and for the UFC.”
Since retiring in Might at age 37, Felder has targeted on coaching for triathlons and returned to his love of performing with a job in an episode of the HBO Max sequence “Hacks.” He was a part of the three-man commentary staff on Jan. 24 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, when Poirier put down McGregor with punches within the second spherical of their rematch. Along with his distinctive perspective as a former light-weight contender himself, Felder has agency concepts of what went fallacious for McGregor the final time, greater than six years after he scored a TKO of Poirier in below two minutes when each have been rising featherweight contenders.
Felder suspects McGregor soaking in time on a yacht “consuming mimosas and champagne and residing the multimillion greenback life-style” softened the previous simultaneous featherweight and light-weight UFC champ. However he additionally pointed to Poirier’s evolution as a fighter through the years as a significant cause “The Diamond” settled the rating with the Irishman.
“Since Dustin has modified over to the light-weight division, he’s simply been a very completely different athlete,” Felder mentioned. “He’s larger, he’s stronger, he can take a greater shot, he’s smarter, they’re game-planning issues significantly better. His teaching employees behind him, they’re a well-oiled machine now, and that was not the case when he fought him the primary time.”
Within the January rematch, McGregor leaned closely on his boxing whereas Poirier floor down his opponent’s lead leg with MMA’s “it” transfer — the calf kick. McGregor took the primary spherical on the judges’ scorecards, however Poirier landed large energy punches to his compromised opponent within the subsequent body till, as Felder put it, McGregor “was perhaps even in search of a approach out as a result of that leg was simply mangled.”
The top got here halfway by the second spherical, when Poirier punctuated a flurry with a menacing proper hook to attain a TKO on McGregor, who appeared unconscious. Having such a setback held over him by Poirier must be working laps in McGregor’s head, mentioned Felder, who is aware of from expertise the sensation of dropping and questioning what may have been executed in a different way.
“In fact!” Felder exclaimed on the suggestion Poirier is in McGregor’s head. “[McGregor’s] gonna say no, however he’s. I imply, you bought put out. You bought put out. Any time any person beats you want that, you’ll be able to say all of the stuff you wanna say. And I’ve obtained nothing however respect for each these guys, however for those who get knocked out, that individual’s residing in that headspace.”
Felder, who is not going to be on the decision this time, mentioned there’s little that might have modified evolutionarily for the 2 veteran headliners within the 5 ½ months since their final combat. Ways can be adjusted. McGregor, he figures, will include a a lot completely different method, forcing Poirier to do the identical.
Finally, nevertheless, Felder mentioned he expects this one gained’t go effectively for the game’s largest star.
“I believe we’ll see a aggressive first few rounds,” Felder says. “I believe Conor’s gonna come at it with a distinct method, however I simply don’t see him placing Poirier away, and I see Poirier getting a late end.”