Dustin Poirier conquered Conor McGregor in their rematch at UFC 257 by connecting with a series of calf kicks that debilitated the Irishman’s right leg and forced him to tumble when Poirier poured on with a cracking and fight-ending combination to the head.
The 32-year-old McGregor (22-5 MMA; 20 stoppages; 0-1 boxing), a prolific southpaw striker, believes he has a better chance at pugilism because his legs would avoid taking punishment.
"It's hard to take. The highest highs and the lowest lows in this game," McGregor said in his post-fight press conference following the first knockout loss of his MMA career. "My leg is completely dead. Even though I felt like I was checking them, it was just sinking into the muscle at the front of the leg and it was badly compromised."
“There are no damn leg kicks in boxing, you know what I mean? I always did want to focus on my MMA career, but I'm also open. I'll just see what happens. I don't know what will happen. That Manny [Pacquiao] fight was happening. It was as good as done. I just want to get in there and get back into a bounce, especially against that style of fighter, and not take those kicks. Not play with those kicks. It's just a motherf---er to take. That's my mind going.”
McGregor was paving a path to meet Pacquiao (62-7-2, 39 KOs) in a boxing match, but demand for the fight certainly suffered due to the former two-division UFC champion’s loss.
“Beautiful thing about the fight game, anything can happen,” Pacquiao wrote on social media immediately after the fight. “Congrats to Dustin Poirier. Huge win!”
Including his defeat to Floyd Mayweather Jr., McGregor has just a 3-4 record in his last seven fights dating back to 2016. McGregor has scored only one win since 2016, a 40-second KO of Donald Cerrone in 2020.
McGregor didn't fully commit if he’ll look to bounce back and revive his career as a full-time MMA fighter, or moonlight as a boxer as well.
“I’ll certainly regroup. I’ll regroup. I’ll pick myself off the floor and go again,” said McGregor. “There are many good matchups for me … I have a lot more weapons I didn’t get to show. It wasn’t my night. It wasn’t a great night. Again, no excuses. Hats off. (I’ll) regroup and pick myself up. I look forward to going back now and seeing the kids and just taking the licks.
“I have no excuses here. It was a phenomenal performance by Dustin. I don’t know what to say … The leg was compromised. I was rushing the shots a little bit, and I didn’t adjust. That’s that. It’s a bitter pill to swallow. I don’t even know if I’m that upset. I don’t know what to say … Things don’t go your way at times. Well, pick yourself up and carry on. I’ve got a lot of good things going on in my life, so I just keep my head high. That’s it. Take the shots, take the licks, and just keep on going."
Manouk Akopyan is a sports journalist, writer and broadcast reporter. He’s also a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America and MMA Journalists Association. He can be reached on Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and YouTube at @ManoukAkopyan, via email at manouk[dot]akopyan[at]gmail.com or on www.ManoukAkopyan.com