Conor McGregor returns to the octagon for the first time in 12 months when he fights Dustin Poirier at UFC 257 on Abu Dhabi’s Fight Island on Saturday.
The bout is a rematch of their 2014 encounter, which McGregor won via a first-round knockout, and will take place in front of a limited number of fans in line with coronavirus protocols.
The Irishman has not fought professionally since beating Donald ‘Cowboy’ Cerrone inside 40 seconds last January.
The 32-year-old McGregor has promised to „deliver a masterpiece“, knowing victory could set up a potential mouth-watering rematch with bitter long-term rival Khabib Nurmagomedov.
But what has McGregor been up to in his year away from the UFC, who is the ‘Diamond’ Dustin Poirier, and how can you follow the fight on the BBC?
Here’s everything you need to know about the blockbuster fight.
Where has McGregor been?
Saturday’s main event marks the third time McGregor has come out of retirement after announcing an end to his professional fighting career last June.
He had previously announced his retirement in 2016 and 2019 before twice returning to the octagon.
In September, McGregor shared screenshots of an alleged conversation with UFC president Dana White, citing his frustrations with the UFC’s failure to book his fights in 2020.
„Sometimes you have to take yourself out of a situation if you’re not being appreciated,“ McGregor told ESPN, saying his retirement was born out of a „lack of respect“ from the UFC.
https://emp.bbc.com/emp/SMPj/2.36.7/iframe.htmlI want my highlights reel to be like a movie – McGregor
Away from the fighting world, the Irishman earned plaudits in March when he pledged to buy more than one million euros worth of personal protective equipment for hospitals in Ireland fighting the Covid-19 pandemic.
This showcased a more positive public persona than the one involved in controversies over recent years, including guilty pleas to disorderly conduct and assault charges in 2018 and 2019 respectively.
What happened last time they fought?
Much has changed for both fighters since their meeting in 2014.
McGregor was catapulted into featherweight title contention and global stardom following the win, while Poirier had to work his way back up through the UFC rankings.
„McGregor went from being an Irish commodity, to a global commodity,“ journalist Nick Peet told BBC Sounds’ MMA Podcast.
Poirier has since said he wasn’t 100% mentally focused going into the fight.
„I remember wanting to fight him at the weigh-in. Looking back, that was crazy,“ the American told ESPN.
„My mind was in a weird place“
It is a different story for the rematch, with both fighters holding a new found respect for each other.
Following the disappointment of the McGregor defeat, Poirier went on to gain notable victories over stars such as Max Holloway, Justin Gaethje and Dan Hooker.
„After that first loss, he rose up, became champion, he’s given so much back and I’m honoured to share the octagon with this man,“ said McGregor in Thursday’s pre-fight press conference.
The Irishman also pledged to donate $500,000 (£367,000) to Poirier’s charity the Good Fight Foundation, which helps under-served populations in his home state of Louisiana.
How could the fight go?
McGregor has again predicted an early knockout victory over Poirier, and this is echoed by his striking coach Owen Roddy.
„I think we’re going to see a phenomenal version of Conor McGregor this Saturday,“ Roddy told BBC Sounds’ MMA Podcast.
„He’s bigger than he’s ever been and he’s faster than he’s ever been.“
„I don’t want to disrespect Poirier, he’s tough, he’s got a lot of good tools, but I just think Conor is better.“
MMA journalist Peter Carroll says you cannot rule out Dustin Poirier, despite his defeat at the hands of McGregor seven years ago.
„With the thousands of fans and media, so many fighters lose the fight before it’s even begun with Conor, but Dustin doesn’t have to put up with that here,“ said Carroll.
„Conor’s intimidation factor is removed, so the situation out here is perfect for the mental state of Dustin Poirier.“
UFC welterweight Danny Roberts says the fight will go one of two ways.
„If Conor gets it his way, he will win within three rounds, but if it goes the distance, Poirier is the favourite.“
Who else is on the fight card?
Scotland’s Joanne Calderwood is in action on the undercard as she faces American Jessica Eye in a flyweight bout.
The 34-year-old will be hoping a win can kickstart a succession of victories which could put her in the frame for a title shot.
Elsewhere, former Bellator lightweight world champion Michael Chandler makes his much-anticipated MMA debut against Dan Hooker.
Marina Rodriguez v Amanda Ribas and Andrew Sanchez v Makhmud Muradov complete the main card.
Fight coverage on the BBC
There will be live commentary from around 04:45 to 06:00 GMT on BBC Radio 5 Live and BBC Sounds.
Play-by-play updates come from commentator Brad Wharton, alongside British welterweight fighter Danny Roberts.
And there will be updates between rounds from our man at the event, Nick Peet.
The BBC Sport website will have live text commentary, with updates, photos and analysis from 03:00.