Dustin Poirier steering clear of Conor McGregor mind games

It often gets lost in the hoopla amidst all of his chatter throughout the pre-fight accumulation, however it’s important to keep in mind that Conor McGregor is even more than buzz and bluster.

He’s one of the very best fighters on the planet; among the very best ever, really. And excellent fighters in their primes who have actually prepared vigilantly and attempted to cover every angle have actually lost to him. McGregor doesn’t win even if he has a fast wit and is proficient at garbage talking.

He’s got quickly hands and feet, excellent balance and an instinctive feel for how to relocate the cage. The meaning of success is beating other excellent fighters at their finest, and McGregor has actually done that over and over.

He did that currently to the male he’ll combat on Saturday in the primary occasion of UFC 257, previous interim light-weight champ Dustin Poirier. Poirier was 25, in the prime of his profession with a 16-3 record that consisted of a win over Max Holloway when he initially satisfied McGregor on Sept. 27, 2014.

Poirier was ranked 5th at featherweight at the time, while McGregor was ninth. However McGregor won the battle in Las Vegas in simply 106 seconds.

They’ll meet again six-plus years later on Saturday at Etihad Arena in Abu Dhabi with much more at stake. The winner will move on to battle for the UFC light-weight champion in his next bout, either versus champ Khabib Nurmagomedov or another opposition for the uninhabited belt if Nurmagomedov remains retired.

The accumulation, as it normally is, is everything about McGregor, however that neglects one really considerable reality:

It’s a greatly various Dustin Poirier who will fulfill McGregor on Saturday than the man who undoubtedly let the garbage talk get to him in 2014.

“I do think it’s a possibility,” stated light-weight competitor Dan Hooker when asked if he felt Poirier might beat McGregor. Hooker, who lost a Battle of the Year-type choice to Poirier in June, battles ex-Bellator champ Michael Chandler in the co-main occasion.

He made the point that McGregor had actually much better be gotten ready for an enhanced Poirier.

“I think that one is up in the air,” Hooker stated of McGregor-Poirier II. “It’s definitely not going to be how the first fight played out. Dustin has grown so much and I feel like it’s a different fighter at this weight. I feel he’s one of the more durable guys in the division and has an incredible gas tank. They match up very well, a very fast starter versus a guy who can weather that early storm and who can come back.

“I feel it’s going to go the full five rounds. I feel it’s going to be a close fight and it’s hard to pick a winner.”

The initial step to remedying an issue is acknowledging it, and Poirier plainly comprehends he got captured up in all the buzz entering into the very first battle. It took him out of his strategy and he didn’t combat like he’d typically done.

McGregor was calm, positive and effective, harmed him early and sliced him down.

However Poirier has actually progressed considerably. Given that he combated McGregor, he’s beaten a who’s who of a few of the best UFC fighters of the previous years, consisting of Anthony Pettis, Justin Gaethje, Eddie Alvarez, Holloway and Hooker.

All however Hooker have actually held a UFC champion eventually in their professions, and Poirier beat them all, winning 2 by KO and one by submission.

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - JUNE 27: Dustin Poirier prepares to fight Dan Hooker of New Zealand in their lightweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on June 27, 2020 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)
Dustin Poirier (26-6-1) is 10-2 with one no contest because losing to Conor McGregor in 2014. (Image by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)

He comprehends what failed in the very first battle and now has the tools to resolve it. The distinction in the 25-year-old Poirier and the 32-year-old veteran Poirier is plain.

“I’m more mature, more skilled, more battle-tested, more patient,” Poirier stated to Yahoo Sports of the distinctions in between the 2014 and 2021 variations of himself. “There’s a lot that’s changed.”

The battle video game is so psychological, and it’s much more so when one deals with a renowned challenger like McGregor. In 2009, a film was launched called, “Facing Ali,” in which a lot of Ali’s challengers, like Joe Frazier, George Supervisor and Larry Holmes, discuss what it resembled battling him.

Those battles need not just extraordinary physical capabilities to win, however psychological abilities, too. If Poirier had a weakness in 2014, it was being sucked into McGregor’s world. Clearly, it’s something he’s addressed in the interim.

“I felt from that fight I needed to make an adjustment with my emotions and the way I lead into these fights,” he said.

Poirier knows now that he doesn’t get anything extra for winning in 30 or 45 or 90 seconds. All that matters is getting his hand raised.

McGregor’s weakness has long been his durability. He hasn’t been the same guy in the second half of battles that he has been in the first half.

Poirier is the opposite. He’s a gritty, tough and smart guy who, as Hooker said, is as durable as anyone in the UFC.

It’s fairly obvious how much better and more dangerous Poirier is now than he was in 2014, however McGregor is still one of the greatest. There is no argument about Poirier’s improvement, however McGregor might still win this battle since that’s what elite super stars do.

However if you would be surprised by a Poirier win, here’s a recommendation:

Don’t be. Poirier suffices to win this battle and if you don’t think it, look what he’s done because 2014.

If wins over Gaethje, Alvarez and Holloway aren’t enough to encourage you, absolutely nothing will.

More from Yahoo Sports:

Jobber Wiki author Frank Long contributed to this report.