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Why Dustin Poirier Can Beat Conor McGregor at UFC 257

| January 16, 2021 10:01 am PDT
5 reasons why Poirier can McGregor

Get this.

I was standing in my kitchen last weekend, looking out the window at the rain beating down. My dog was staring back at me as she took a leak on the grass.

At the same time, I was speaking to my buddy Jeremy about UFC 257. To be more precise, he was talking at me for at least ten minutes about how he was going to bet on McGregor to knock out Poirier. He rambled on about how McGregor’s odds to win were too good not to take, and why Poirier has no chance of winning the fight.

Now, don’t go too hard on my friend. He’s a good dude, but his knowledge of MMA is, well… let’s just say that it’s a little compromised by his status as a bona fide, shameless McGregor fanboy. 

Anyway, as the dog walked mud all over my clean floor, he asked me a question. It was probably the same question that some of you out there will have on your mind. 

“Give me one good reason why Poirier beats McGregor,” he said.

Well, I told him that I could do better than that — I could easily pull a few off the top of my head. But, if he was willing to wait until today, that I would respond with a comprehensive piece outlining why Dustin can beat Conor.

So, that’s what I’ve done for my buddy today. Well, not just for him, of course. This piece is also dedicated to everyone else happy to tell you why Poirier has no chance against McGregor at UFC 257 on January 23, and those looking for reasons to back Louisiana’s main man.


Poirier is a Different Beast in 2021

I didn’t have a dog when Dustin Poirier was flattened by Conor McGregor in 2014.

I wasn’t living in the same house I am in now. A different woman was complaining that I watch too many fights. I looked fresher and didn’t have any gray hairs invading my facial hair. Heck, I was even living in a different city.

The point I’m making here is that a lot can change in the space of more than six years. So to suggest Poirier is the same fighter that he was back then is, well, wrong. On so many levels. So, if you’re looking to make money betting on McGregor, you should really know what he is up against.

Now, I have enjoyed watching the evolution of the Louisianan over the years. His improvement as a fighter has been remarkable, if not very obvious. You see, a lot of what “The Diamond” does inside the cage goes unnoticed by the average fan, and it’s small details that make him so dangerous as a fighter.

There is no doubt that the halcyon days of McGregor’s rise through the UFC’s featherweight division will be always remembered by fans. It was a spectacular period in the history of the fight game, and Poirier played a part in the ascendance of Ireland’s greatest mixed martial artist.

In contrast, Poirier was an underappreciated workhorse at 155-pounds for years. It was the loss to McGregor that instigated his move back up to the division, where he worked his butt off to improve every single aspect of his game.

The American has fought 13 times at lightweight since April 2015. He has lost just two of those fights.

And just look at the fighters Poirier has beaten at 155.

Opponent Result Event
Dan Hooker Win by Decision UFC on ESPN: Poirier vs. Hooker
Max Holloway Win by Decision UFC 242
Eddie Alvarez Win by TKO UFC on Fox: Alvarez vs. Poirier
Justin Gaethje Win by TKO UFC on Fox: Poirier vs. Gaethje
Anthony Pettis Win by Submission UFC FN – Poirier vs. Pettis
Jim Miller Win by Decision UFC 208
Bobby Green Win by KO UFC 199
Joseph Duffy Win by Decision UFC 195
Yancy Medeiros Win by TKO UFC Fight Night: Boetsch vs. Henderson
Carlos Diego Ferreira Win by KO UFC Fight Night: Mendes vs. Lamas

Poirier has only lost to Khabib Nurmagomedov, and strangely enough, Michael Johnson, at 155-pounds since losing to McGregor at 178 in 2014.

He has beaten former champions Eddie Alvarez and Anthony Pettis and former interim champ Justin Gaethje (all by stoppage), as well as then-featherweight champ Max Holloway. Throw in the very solid Dan Hooker, Carlos Diego Ferreira, and a couple more of the guys above, and you’ll soon realize that this guy is no joke.

Poirier is arguably the most improved fighter in the UFC over the past ten years. He has gone from strength to strength and would almost certainly be the champion of the division if not for Khabib the G.O.A.T.

The Diamond is the More Active Fighter

Something that is not getting the attention it deserves is the fact that Poirier has been the more active fighter over the past few years.

Including McGregor’s win over Nate Diaz in August 2016, the Irishman has fought just four times inside the cage. Compare that with Poirier’s nine fights, almost all against top-class opposition, and anyone betting on Poirier to beat McGregor at UFC 257 should feel encouraged.

McGregor’s last fight in the UFC was a 40-second blitzing of Donald Cerrone. That was his only appearance in the promotion since feeling the brutal force of Khabib’s neck crank in October 2018. So, in the last 28 months, the Dubliner has just 28 minutes and 43 seconds of fight time. 

Poirier went five rounds with Dan Hooker in an absolute epic in June this year. He should be much sharper than McGregor, and will certainly have no issues with cage rust.

McGregor and his team have been persistent in pushing the idea that he is in the best shape of his life. Judging by the images doing the rounds, it’s hard to say he doesn’t look the part.

But is he conditioned enough to go into deep waters with Poirier, if it comes to it? I’m not sure the UFC legend will be planning on things going that far, but if they do, he could be in trouble…

Poirier’s Cardio is Better Than McGregor’s

Poirier’s move to American Top Team was one of the best choices he had ever, or will ever, make in his time on this earth.

Not only did The Diamond improve as a fighter with that move, but issues with his cardio were all but erased from his game. 

If you need evidence of Poirier now being a cardio machine, watch his fight with the hugely impressive Max Holloway in April 2019. Then, watch him demonstrate tick after tick against the incredibly durable Dan Hooker.

Oh, and remember the Gaethje fight? And let’s face it, it’s not like the super-conditioned Gaethje doesn’t also hit like one of Satan’s personal bodyguards, is it?

The walls of Poirier’s strategy against McGregor is almost certain to be built on the foundations of avoiding McGregor’s left hand while stifling him to run down his battery.

Closing McGregor down and pushing him up the fence; mixing things up in the clinch in order to wear down his arms; takedown attempts and general skullduggery designed to swing the pendulum in his direction is the key to winning this fight.

Easier said than done, of course. But Poirier can beat McGregor, and I guarantee you that the best bets for Poirier winning in this fight are not going to be based on knocking the Irishman out.

Instead, the American will be backed by bettors who believe that he has the gas tank to cause huge problems at UFC 257. Especially given McGregor’s cardio issues that are, like, not exactly a huge secret. 

The Pressure is on McGregor

If you think there is pressure on Poirier in this fight, you’re wrong.

So, before you lick your lips at the latest odds for McGregor vs. Poirier 2 — or dive into placing your bets on McGregor to beat Poirier — consider the pressure on the Irishman.

I can only tell you what I know and what I can perceive, of course. And as I see it, there is something really different in the eyes of The Notorious. It’s not as clean-cut as being able to pinpoint one emotion, but I’d go as far as to say that there is a little bit of fear there. Not necessarily fear of Poirier the fighter — even though he clearly respects him —  but fear of losing.

So, on that thought, what would a loss to Poirier look like for McGregor? Well, for one, it would all but remove any image of the former “Champ-Champ” as an elite fighter. Is his ego capable of taking that kind of a knock, and coming out the other side intact?

I’m not sure that McGregor would continue to compete if he is beaten by Poirier. Well, not in the sense of actively fighting for championships in the promotion. The occasional fight, perhaps once every year until he hangs his gloves up.

Or even a few cross-code exhibitions for a little extra dough? Perhaps McGregor’s odds to beat Jake Paul would be trending in a few months, with a view to a fight?

Who knows? But what I can tell you is that the former two-weight world champ has the pressure on him in this fight, not Poirier. He definitely stands to lose more than his rival.

Conor McGregor’s Stats in the UFC
Takedown Average 0.75
Takedown Accuracy 62%
Takedown Defense 70%
Significant Strikes LPM 5.43
Striking Accuracy 49%
Significant Strikes APM 4.40
Striking Defense 55%
Submission Average 0.0
  • LPM = Landed Per Minute
  • APM = Absorbed Per Minute

Poirier is Extremely Well-Rounded

Much has been made of the psychological strength of Conor McGregor.

It has been a huge part of the UFC superstar’s success inside and outside of the cage. And naturally, some believe that McGregor’s win against Poirier in 2014 is something that gives him something of a mental edge heading into this fight.

I am in that camp. He has the psychological edge over the American, but with everything that has happened between 2014 and UFC 257, I wouldn’t bet on McGregor beating Poirier on this alone.

Poirier has been in there with the best of the best at 155. He has almost always come out on top. And the reason why is that he is one of the premier fighters on the roster. Poirier is a beast, with a super well-rounded style, heart, a great engine, and everything else you would expect from an elite fighter.

It’s hard to pinpoint an X-factor with Poirier, partly because of this. Where McGregor’s fast-twitch, left hand from hell is there for all to see, his opponent can get you in several different ways. Let’s not forget that he is a smart dude that has a great sense of McGregor’s strengths and weaknesses, and has proven his ability to almost always enter a fight with previous opponents with the right game plan. 

Poirier’s Versatility

Dustin Poirier is one of the most versatile fighters in the UFC’s lightweight division.

  • Poirier has beaten 12 of his opponents by KO/TKO and 7 by submission
  • The Diamond has also earned 7 decision wins in his professional career to date

With 12 KO/TKOs, 7 submissions, and 7 decision wins under his belt, Poirier’s record reflects his versatility in a fight. He’s not the hardest hitter in the world, but he has knocked out the likes of Gaethje and Alvarez. He’s not known as a specialist submission artist, but he is the only fighter to submit Max Holloway and also forced legit BJJ blackbelt Anthony Pettis to tap.

You wouldn’t call him a point fighter, yet he has decision wins over Hooker and Holloway.

Poirier is about as well-rounded as they come in the UFC. You can bet on Poirier to submit McGregor, to beat him on points, or even to stop him late, and I don’t think any UFC fighter, fan, pundit, or anyone else who knows what they are talking about would question your sanity.

There is money to be made betting on Conor McGregor fights, as it’s a huge business. But quite often, the value is to be had on his opponent winning, rather than The Notorious getting the job done…

The Smart Bets for McGregor vs. Poirier 2

Well, that sums up my five reasons why Poirier can beat McGregor.

A lot of time has passed since his loss to the Irishman in 2014, and his records speak volumes for his improvement as a fighter in that time. He is one of the best lightweights of all time, in my opinion, and could still improve.

His cardio and durability will be important factors in this fight. He will need to show up with all of his tools sharpened and ready to go when that first horn sounds.

So, are you convinced enough to place your bets on Poirier to beat McGregor at UFC 257? Or will McGregor’s odds to win be too good to turn down?

If it’s the latter, I have provided an objective breakdown of why McGregor beats Poirier which is similar to this piece but lists the reasons how McGregor could come out on top. I’d recommend giving it a read.

But before you make your decision, make sure to think about this one. I would argue that it is nowhere near as one-sided as some are making it out to be and that Poirier has a big chance of coming away with the win.

As for my McGregor vs. Poirier 2 predictions and pick? Well, I’ll be back with more content to keep you in the loop ahead of UFC 257. You can find that, and much more, on our UFC betting picks and UFC blog sections.

I’ll leave you with a couple of pieces that are popular with our readers right now. Check ’em out!

Adam Haynes
Adam Haynes

Adam is a sports writer and tipster with a strong background in MMA, boxing, and combat sports.

When Adam isn't writing about those, as well as politics, rugby, and Gaelic Games, he can be found working on methods and strategies to beat the bookies.

For his troubles, Adam is a fan of Leinster Rugby, Glasgow Celtic, and trusting the process.

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