The niceties surrounding their rematch in January made for uncomfortable viewing at times, but manufactured heat or otherwise, the door will definitively close on their rivalry Saturday night with a title shot looming for the winner.
It’s showtime once again
It felt inevitable Conor McGregor would channel his inner bad guy here, especially after being made a laughing stock for losing the way he did in Abu Dhabi six months prior.
Considering all the trouble he’s gotten himself into in recent years, Dustin Poirier is right to be unfazed by his antics, as they won’t matter a jot once that Octagon door closes.
After all, the Diamond knows a title bout with newly-crowned lightweight titlist Charles Oliveira awaits this weekend’s winner. If anything, this volatile version of McGregor should give him more assurance. It seemingly does.
“I felt like I saw a guy who was unsure of himself, scared, trying to hype himself up. I felt good, he has to work himself up to be that guy: I am that guy, don’t have to do that. I know if he would have gotten close enough, he would have seen it – and that’s just it. I know who I am, don’t have to be crazy.
I knew he would act crazy, but to see him in the flesh, it just made me feel good because he has that little guy, not that guy he used to be, I feel – through my eyes, anyway.”
While McGregor acquitted himself well, his stand-up skills were centred around the boxing base he used as preparation for a potential lucrative bout against Manny Pacquiao.
However, the record books will forever state he lost via second-round TKO – dangerous display or not. That he’s describing the result as a fluke is something Poirier believes will ultimately prove his biggest downfall.
“He’s doing himself a disservice by not reassessing everything and figuring out what really went wrong.
That’s what losers do – they scramble to find something to stand on, and that’s what he’s doing. But it doesn’t matter, I got my hand raised… it’s a fight.”
Conor meanwhile, believes everyone will marvel at his best performance yet this weekend:
“It’s all about me, he was electrocuted in the last fight, both rounds, so I’m just going to finish the job here. He’s getting taken out on a stretcher, I’m ready for the 25 [minutes], but I’ll [finish him] early on. A devastating KO, a masterpiece.
Assuming the winner emerges unscathed, a winter timeframe for Oliveira’s first title defence is likely. The Brazilian will watch more intently than most overnight, considering the high stakes for both – but who will end this trilogy on top?
Picture source: Getty Images