Conor McGregor was determined to show the world that he is still an elite fighter in the UFC’s lightweight division. One of the biggest criticisms of his last outing against Poirier was that he relied too heavily upon striking. There was talk that his foray into boxing had diminished his overall mixed martial arts skills and that he did not bring a diverse enough attack into the octagon. His approach at the onset of the fight made it clear he’d been listening to the critics.
He started the fight with two spinning kicks, which appeared to catch Poirier off guard. Poirier countered with a combination and the two men exchanged calf kicks while feeling each other out. McGregor then scored a nice takedown against Poirier and tried to put him in a submission chokehold. Poirier was able to fight out of it and eventually gained the dominant grappling position. He then piled up a large number of points using ground and pound tactics.
Eventually, the two men got up from the mat and faced off. While the two of them each missed an attempted strike, McGregor fell back on his leg. The full weight of his body came down awkwardly, snapping his shin and leaving his ankle dangling at an unnatural angle. The referee took one look at McGregor’s ankle and waived off the fight. Thus Dustin Poirier won the fight with a first round TKO.
In the post-fight interview in the octagon, Poirier told Joe Rogan that he thought McGregor initially fractured his shin on an attempted kick early in the round. Once he fell back on the leg awkwardly, the result was inevitable.
Is this the end of Conor McGregor as an elite fighter? Time will tell. The truth is, even before the injury, Poirier was the clear winner of round one. Anything can happen in mixed martial arts and the momentum may have eventually swung back to McGregor but it looked to be Poirier’s night. After weathering McGregor’s initial onslaught, he clearly regained control of the fight. Whether or not he properly heals from this dramatic injury will play a huge role in McGregor’s future as a fighter. That being said, the narrative of this fight should focus on Poirier. He won the trilogy fight against his arch nemesis; he should feel good about that. He also greatly improved his chances at getting a title shot, which he’d cherish even more than a win over a rival.