Dustin Poirier landed the biggest win of his mixed martial arts career when he emphatically defeated Conor McGregor in the main event of UFC 257 at the Etihad Arena in Abu Dhabi on the morning of Sunday 24 January.
The main event at ‘Fight Island’ saw Poirier move to a career tally of 27-6 (1 NC), establish himself as arguably the top active lightweight in the business, and avenge a 2014 loss to McGregor which leaves the fighters at 1-1 in their personal rivalry.
Much of the first round was spent on the fence with the fighters in close-quarters grappling and exchanging shoulder strikes after an early takedown from Poirier, though ultimately it ended with stand-up striking and McGregor landing the more significant blows.
The ‘Notorious’ seemed to have momentum on his side, but Poirier’s tactic of striking McGregor’s lead leg soon paid dividends in the second round: the Irishman’s fluid movement was compromised and Poirier was able to find his range with his boxing, ultimately overpowering his opponent before referee Herb Dean called a stop to the fight in Poirier’s favour.
“The goal was to be technical,” said Poirier in his post-fight interview. “And to pick my shots, not brawl at all. You know I have a big tendency [to brawl] and you saw at the end of this one [fight] but I had him hurt so I went a little crazy.”
The American added, “I felt like this was a title fight. If Khabib [Nurmagomedov, retired champion] is not coming back, me and Conor are the two best guys… I think this is a title fight. I’m the champion.”
The co-main event saw Michael Chandler, a former lightweight champion in the rival Bellator series, make a massive impact on his UFC debut, as he needed just two and a half minutes of the first round to TKO Dan Hooker with a flurry of punches.
The 34-year-old then called out McGregor and Poirier, as well as retired and undefeated lightweight champion Nurmagomedov.
“I tell y’all this: this is the greatest moment in my professional life,” said Chandler in the post-fight interview.
“Conor McGregor, surprise, surprise… there’s a new king in the lightweight division! Dustin Poirier, your time is coming and Khabib… if you ever do see fit to grace us with your presence back here in the UFC Octagon, in your quest for 30-0 you gotta beat somebody, so beat me!”
The early fights on the main card saw Marina Rodriguez overcome Amanda Ribas via second-round TKO in a women’s strawweight clash; Makhmud Muradov impressively took down Andrew Sanchez in a middleweight bout; and Joanne Calderwood defeated Jessica Eye via unanimous decision in the women’s flyweight division.
The UFC’s next event is a Fight Night at the APEX Facility in Las Vegas on Sunday February 7, headlined by a heavyweight clash between Alistair Overeem and Alexander Volkov.
Article written by: SuperSport
Photo credit: CNN International