UFC 264: McGregor vs Poirier Fight 3 Preview & Betting Lines
After ill-advised forays in the world of boxing and pro wrestling, Conor McGregor is back doing what he does best. That would be entering the Mixed Martial Arts octagon to face an opponent that wants to rip his head off. The problem for McGregor is he might be but one step from obscurity. That is something that didn’t seem possible five years ago when he was at the top of the sport.
When he enters the octagon on July 10, 2021, he will be battling more than interim UFC Lightweight Champion Dustin Poirier at UFC 264. He will be battling time and a chance to remain relevant in a sport where people come and go like a city bus. The fight is scheduled to take place at the T-Mobile Arena in Paradise, Nevada.
This will not be the first time that McGregor and Poirier have squared off with a UFC title on the line. In fact, this will be the third fight in a trilogy that started seven years ago.
Their first fight took place in September 2014 at UFC 178 in the featherweight division. In that fight, McGregor won by first-round technical knockout. Indeed, the then 25-year-old MMA fighter was in his prime and invoking fear everywhere he showed up to fight. That fight was part of a 15 fight winning streak that propelled the McGregor name to the top of the charts in the UFC.
By the time McGregor and Poirier met again in January of this year, McGregor wasn’t looking as invincible as he was going into the first fight. Having only fought in the MMA on six occasions since December of 2015, there were doubts going into the January fight. The doubts were about his desire to enter the octagon with his same signature intensity. Indeed, Poirier prevailed at UFC 257 via second-round knockout.
The Betting Lines
Going into the rubber match of this trilogy, bookmakers are seeing this as an even matchup. Both fighters are currently listed at odds of -110 (sports bettor would need to wager $110 to win $100).
Both fighters will be entering this fight at the age of 32. They carry the same height (5’9″) and weight (155 lbs) with McGregor having a reach advantage of 74 inches versus 72 inches. In his last 6 MMA fights since December of 2015, McGregor has a record of 3-3 with victories over Nate Diaz, Eddie Alvarez, and Don Cerrone. His losses were versus Nate Diaz (first fight), Khabib Nurmagomedov, and Poirier in January.
During that same timeframe, Poirier was able to amass a record of 9-2-1. One of his losses was against the same Khabib Nurmagomedov while he defeated Eddie Alvarez on two occasions.
McGregor Power Advantage
In the octagon, McGregor would seem to have an advantage in the power category. He has a knockout rate of 70%, having only won one of his bouts by submission. In the Poirier corner, it’s more about speed and finesse. His knockout rate is only 38% while he won 41% of his fights via submission or decision.
As was the case in the prior two bouts, Poirier will need to stay away from McGregor’s punching power. It was no mistake that McGregor gave boxing a shot because of his power. In late August of 2017, he entered the boxing ring, believing he had a chance to beat down former boxing champ Floyd Mayweather Jr. Unfortunately for McGregor, he was badly outclassed by arguably one of the best boxers of all time. The man can punch, but he was exposed as more of a brawler than a boxer.
McGregor vs Poirier Strategy
Looking at this fight objectively, Poirier will be looking to keep this fight on the ground. His grappling skills and speed are far superior to what McGregor has to offer on the ground. For McGregor, the goal will be to stay on his feet, cock that right hand, and look to land the big punch.
To land that big punch, McGregor will need to stay on his feet. That means he will likely end up chasing Poirier around the octagon. That causes two potential problems for the Irish-born McGregor.
First, Poirier has just enough punching power that McGregor can’t really afford to just charge right in and start wailing. What Poirier lacks in reach, he more than compensates for it with hand speed.
The second potential issue for McGregor is conditioning. Remember, this is only his 7th fight of any kind over the last 5 1/2 years. That’s not a lot of fights for MMA fighters who typically hit the ring at least twice a year. If his heart or head is off-center, as experts have noted, that too could end up showing in his conditioning. If he ends up chasing the fleet Poitier around the octagon early in the fight, he stands to lose his punching power edge as his legs get tired.
The bookmakers are calling this even. The sports bettors are calling this fight even. The answer will come in the octagon on July 10th.
One gets the sense that McGregor has lost a bit of his edge, something he traded in for his celebrity status. The man is tough, but his best years were more than six years ago.
Poirier has the conditioning edge, the speed edge, and more punching power than he had in 2014 during the first fight between these two fighters. While this fight is very unlikely to go the distance, this fight just feels like Poirier’s fight to lose. It will be by a submission.