Saturday night, Conor McGregor made his long-awaited return to the octagon when he faced off with Dustin Poirier in UFC 257. The two men took part in a rematch of their 2014 battle, which McGregor previously won with a first-round knockout. This time, Poirier turned the tables and stunned the world with a second-round knockout.
The battle started in McGregor's favor during the first round as the two fighters traded punches. The fans said that the Irishman was in control early and that he would take care of business as the fight progressed. However, Poirier showed off his striking ability in the second. He caught McGregor with several punches, backed him into the cage and knocked him out.
"Give this guy the respect that he deserves," UFC star Francis Ngannou tweeted after the knockout punch. Several other stars from the promotion also echoed similar sentiments. They called this performance incredible and said that Poirier was a great fighter.
Prior to the bout, there were raised expectations for the battle that would take place in the octagon. Poirier fans highlighted his six career knockouts, which place him in a tie for third-most in division history behind Melvin Guillard and Edson Barboza. They called these knockouts a reason why he could find success against McGregor. They also cited his 6.45 significant strikes landed per minute, the third most in UFC history in the lightweight division.
"I know what a win over Conor McGregor means in combat sports and I know whoever wins this fight is fighting for gold and that’s why I fight," Poirier said during the lead-up to the fight, per the LA Times. "I want to be the undisputed world champion. I’m still chasing that goal and I know this fight gets me one step closer to that."
The McGregor, supporters, however, had their own reasons for why he would win the highly-anticipated battle. First and foremost was the 2014 victory over Poirier, but the fans and analysts had other reasons. They listed McGregor ending 91% of his wins by finish (19 knockouts and one submission) as another example of his abilities in the cage.
"I think Poirier is gonna try to fight smart and win a mixed martial arts bout, not make it a standup battle or a grappling battle," UFC Hall of Famer Urijah Faber told ESPN prior to Saturday's fight. "Conor has been looking super impressive as far as his athleticism goes. It looks like he's taking it really seriously. I'm leaning on the side of Conor again."
Now that the fight is over, one big question remains: Will Khabib Nurmagomedov come out of retirement for a title defense? He last fought Justin Gaethje at UFC 254 but said he was walking away after making a promise to his mother. He said that he would not fight without his father in his corner. However, UFC president Dana White said that Nurmagomedov would be intently watching UFC 257's main event and that the fighters would have to show him "something spectacular" and make him come back and fight.0comments
The co-main event featuring Michael Chandler and Dan Hooker was reportedly one of the bouts that Nurmagomedov would watch while contemplating his future. Chandler was aware of this report and responded with a first-round TKO victory. He then did a backflip off the top of the cage and called out three different lightweight fighters.
"Conor McGregor! Surprise surprise, there is a new king in the lightweight division," Chandler yelled after his fight. "Dustin Poirier, your time is coming! And Khabib, if you ever do see fit to grace us with your presence back here in the UFC octagon in your quest for 30 — you know you gotta beat somebody — so beat me...if you can!"