Dustin Poirier proved on Saturday night that the underdog can never be underestimated. Poirier waited six years to seek vengeance from his first loss to Conor McGregor at UFC 178 in 2014.
In this matchup, Poirier defeated McGregor in the second round with a TKO finish. Poirier started off with a trip on McGregor within the first minute of the bout. It was an unexpected position and the two worked in the clinch for the opening three minutes. McGregor landed several shoulder strikes up against the cage on Poirier. Once McGregor broke away from the clinch, he walked down Poirier and the two exchanged shots for the remainder of the first round.
In the second, Poirier grew more comfortable striking and he started to hurt McGregor’s legs with calf kicks. McGregor’s mobility was significantly impaired, and he had trouble getting away from Poirier’s offensive attack. He landed heavy shots upstairs on McGregor and he dropped McGregor up against the cage.
“I’m happy, but I am not surprised. I put in the work,” Poirier said to UFC blow-by-blow announcer Jon Anik in the Octagon. “[McGregor and I] are one and one, maybe we have to [fight] again.”
Regardless of what Khabib Nurmagomedov decides to do with the lightweight title, a trilogy bout between Poirier and McGregor could be on the horizon. One possibility could be Poirier seeking a rematch for the lightweight title against Nurmagomedov. Few people believed in Poirier’s chances to beat McGregor, and he showed that he is worthy of competing for the title.
Poirier is a much-improved fighter from when he first fought McGregor in 2014. The main event was not the only exciting fight of the night, as the co-main event delivered an unexpected outcome.
Michael Chandler made the ultimate statement in his UFC debut in the co-main event with a first-round TKO victory against Dan Hooker. He set up the knockdown blow with a right to the body and then a left over the top that floored Hooker. Chandler finished off Hooker with strikes on the ground as Marc Goddard stepped in to stop the fight. After the stoppage, Chandler celebrated his first win in the UFC with a backflip off the Octagon cage.
“It’s been such a long road, lots of ups and downs, but every road has led me to here,” Chandler said in his post-fight interview with Anik. “Let’s go get this title shot soon.”
Chandler proceeded to call out McGregor, Poirier, and Nurmagomedov in his interview, which turned out to be a very wise move because he already had the MMA world’s attention with his performance. Chandler has set himself up for a high ranking in the lightweight division, and he is on the fast track to a lightweight title against any championship opponent that the UFC lines him up against. Nurmagomedov spoke about returning to face someone who put on a spectacular performance at UFC 257, and Chandler’s performance fits the bill.