Conor McGregor’s fight with Dustin Poirier at UFC 257 this weekend may be a rematch but it is not your average UFC sequel – and Poirier is not your average fighter.
It’s no grudge match, there’s no bad blood, and it’s not like there’s any unfinished business – McGregor was a clear winner when they last met in September 2014.
Gone are the pre-fight histrionics that preceded their featherweight clash at UFC 178. Each man is now a different beast – in and out of the octagon.
The 32-year-olds seem to have matured, having become fathers, and they are showing the mutual respect of seasoned fighters before they meet again at lightweight.
McGregor has even pledged to make a sizeable donation to Poirier’s charitable foundation. But who is the man who will face the Irishman in his latest UFC return?
‘I’ve overcome adversity so many times’
McGregor caught Poirier cold in 2014, knocking him out in under two minutes for a win that helped propel „the Notorious“ to global stardom.
Poirier, meanwhile, was left with a mixed martial arts record of 16-4 and having to work his way back up the UFC rankings.
The American switched from featherweight to lightweight and although a four-fight win streak was halted by a first-round knockout by Michael Johnson in 2016, Poirier bounced back to win his next five.
He stopped Justin Gaethje, plus former world champions Anthony Pettis and Eddie Alvarez, before earning a decision against Max Holloway in 2019 to win the interim lightweight title.
„I’ve overcome adversity so many times,“ said Poirier, who made his UFC debut in 2011. „This is my belt, I earned it in blood.“
That also earned a first world title shot, 31 fights into his MMA career, but the grappling prowess of the still-unbeaten lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov proved too much.
Again, „the Diamond“ regrouped and earned a decision against Dan Hooker last June in a fight of the year contender. Then McGregor came calling.
The Irishman is keen to regain the lightweight title and Poirier is now the number two ranked contender, but he represents a much tougher, wiser proposition than in 2014.
He’s lost just two of his 13 fights since, while McGregor has only fought twice in MMA since 2016. Poirier also has 26 MMA wins to McGregor’s 22, with seven submissions to one.
And Poirier has become a philanthropist at the same time as moving into the top 10 for most UFC wins (18).
Fighting the Good Fight
After his no-contest with Alvarez in 2017, Poirier auctioned off his fight-worn kit and the money raised provided 3,000 meals for a local food bank.
He and his wife Jolie then launched The Good Fight Foundation, a non-profit organisation to help local communities and under-served populations in their home state of Louisiana.
They have continued to donate time, money and resources – during the global pandemic too – with Poirier announcing a charity goal before each of his fights.
Last June, Poirier was named the inaugural winner of the UFC’s Forrest Griffin Community Award in recognition of his charity work, and an increasing number of fighters are sending their kit to be auctioned, while Nurmagomedov donated $100,000 (£73,000) in 2019.
And after Poirier and McGregor announced their plans to meet again, McGregor pledged to donate $500,000 (£367,000) to the foundation, which Poirier aims to use to build an MMA and boxing gym in his hometown of Lafayette.
„Life is a fight, and we have to stay positive during the good and bad times,“ said Poirier. „The foundation will not lose sight of the goal no matter what is happening. It’s our mission to not only help, but be a voice to those in need. We will persevere and continue the fight.“