UFC actual or not: Dustin Poirier is the suitable opponent for Conor McGregor’s return

UFC celebrity Conor McGregor introduced on Wednesday that he’ll return to the Octagon and face Dustin Poirier as the primary occasion of UFC 257 on Jan. 23, and he is hoping the struggle will probably be held in AT&T Stadium, the house of the Dallas Cowboys.

Will the UFC conform to the venue?

McGregor needed to struggle 3 times in 2020, however the pandemic wrecked these plans. McGregor hasn’t fought since his 40-second victory over Donald Cerrone in January. Since that point, he has retired on Twitter, mentioned he was facing Manny Pacquiao in a boxing match and referred to as out quite a few different UFC fighters, together with Nate Diaz and Khabib Nurmagomedov. The entire public negotiations resulted in McGregor seemingly getting all that he has needed in a high-profile bout that can personal the eye of the sports activities world on Jan. 23, 2021.

If the struggle comes collectively, Poirier will attempt to get some redemption for his first-round knockout loss to McGregor in 2014 (Watch on ESPN+). In that featherweight bout, McGregor labored shortly, flattening Poirier with a left and ending him off with hammerfists with just below two minutes left within the first spherical. There isn’t any doubt that each fighters have advanced, and whereas the spotlight of McGregor’s win over Poirier will proceed to be performed within the lead-up, Poirier represents an intense problem as McGregor tries to earn his approach again to a title shot.

However is that this the suitable bout for the game’s greatest star? Is he taking too huge of a threat by not ready for a attainable title shot in opposition to the winner of the Oct. 24 bout between Nurmagomedov and Justin Gaethje?

Ariel Helwani, Marc Raimondi, Phil Murphy and Jeff Wagenheim consider the bout, taking a look at what’s actual or not as we start to arrange for a possible main light-weight battle.


That is the suitable struggle for Conor McGregor

Raimondi: I wasn’t offered initially, however the extra I give it some thought, the extra I prefer it. First, any struggle for McGregor is an effective factor for the UFC and McGregor himself. He was clear that he needed a “season” of at the very least three fights — perhaps 4 — in 2020. And to this point, he has fought simply as soon as, a fast knockout of Cerrone in January. The inactivity has been a sticking level for the UFC, which gave the impression to be cautious of bringing McGregor again with out crowds. There was an analogous difficulty with big-time boxing pay-per-views. The speed on funding has to make sense, and with out the thousands and thousands of {dollars} that come from ticket gross sales, is it value it to have somebody who will get paid as a lot as McGregor compete with out that income?

McGregor knocked out Poirier shortly after they first met in 2014 at UFC 178, however which may as properly have been a lifetime in the past. It was at featherweight, and each males have now fought at light-weight (welterweight, too, in McGregor’s case) for years. Poirier has been one of many prime lightweights on the planet since 2017. Followers cannot argue that McGregor is hand-picking straightforward competitors right here — Poirier is as legit because it will get. One might say that McGregor in opposition to somebody like Diaz would pull in more cash for the UFC. Most likely so, however that trilogy struggle will probably be there sooner or later. McGregor vs. Poirier is extraordinarily aggressive and more likely to be an motion struggle. MMA lovers and informal followers alike needs to be excited for it.

Conor McGregor is unnecessarily risking a title shot by taking this struggle

Helwani: No. McGregor simply needs to struggle. I believe he has made that clear at this level. He is annoyed that he has fought solely a complete of 40 seconds in 2020 and is itching to get again in there. He additionally acknowledges that he’s a much bigger draw than the belt. I believe the competitor in him most actually needs to struggle Nurmagomedov once more, however the businessman in him additionally is aware of he would not want to attend round for a title shot or be frightened about “risking” a title shot. I additionally suppose he can be assured going into this one, particularly contemplating he already has a win over Poirier, and is aware of {that a} win will get him a title shot anyway.

With a win, this struggle will get Dustin Poirier a title shot

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Dustin Poirier explains how after his loss to Conor McGregor in 2014, he started to vary his perspective on preventing which made him happier total in life.

Murphy: When it comes to his subsequent struggle being for a title, Poirier completely earns the shot by beating McGregor. Its immediacy, although, relies on the winner when Nurmagomedov and Gaethje unify the light-weight belt — and the way sincerely Nurmagomedov plans to retire after 30 fights.

Six of Poirier’s previous seven bouts — wherein he is 5-1 (1 NC) — have come in opposition to former or present champions or interim champions. Beating McGregor would make seven of eight, and it could take Poirier’s star energy to a wholly new stage. Within the UFC’s deepest division, there is no questioning that résumé. At a gradual two or three fights per 12 months since his professional debut in 2009, there is no questioning Poirier’s stage of exercise both.

The one outlier is who holds the belt when Poirier hypothetically topples the Infamous One. If Nurmagomedov holds the gold, is a final-chapter GSP struggle on the desk? May Nurmagomedov wish to problem Kamaru Usman in a superfight as an alternative? Nurmagomedov holds all of the playing cards, and there wasn’t a lot from Poirier’s loss at UFC 242 that calls for a rematch.

If Gaethje wins, nevertheless, the door grows a lot wider. Poirier knocked out Gaethje two years in the past, which raises intrigue for a sequel. However would Gaethje grant Nurmagomedov a right away rematch? Shared administration makes it one thing lower than an absolute meritocracy.

With a win over McGregor, Poirier will struggle subsequent for the title. However excellent contingencies would possibly power him to attend till late subsequent 12 months to take action.

Actual or not: A McGregor struggle at AT&T Stadium can be the proper approach to welcome again followers to a reside UFC occasion within the U.S.

Wagenheim: Nobody in MMA creates capital-M Moments like McGregor, and the followers have at all times performed an enormous position in elevating the goosebumps. There’s nothing like an enviornment filled with singing and chanting and Irish flag-waving zealots who’ve flown into city to help their man. Different fighters have hordes of followers, too, however the scene at a McGregor struggle is just the next stage of spectacle.

McGregor feeds off the vitality contained in the venue, so he understands higher than anybody the impression of staging his performances in entrance of followers. Why else would he insist on having his return play out at a stadium that in non-pandemic occasions seats over 100,000? Now, who is aware of what this occasion would appear like — what number of followers can be allowed in, and the way journey restrictions and these economically exhausting occasions would possibly preserve away many who would like to be there.

There are numerous variables that may must be settled — an important amongst them, after all, being whether or not the UFC will conform to McGregor’s stipulation of locale. But when the struggle does occur in Dallas, how acceptable would that be. Of us within the Lone Star State love doing issues huge, and a McGregor return after a 12 months out of the Octagon, in a struggle in opposition to a professional light-weight contender, with some quantity of followers in attendance at a UFC occasion for the primary time since March 7 — that positive can be a Texas-sized extravaganza.

That is the PPV foremost occasion on the horizon that I am wanting ahead to most

Raimondi: That is a tricky one with out realizing for positive what else the UFC might have on the docket for November and December. Might a deal be made to have former mates Jorge Masvidal and Colby Covington settle their blood feud? In that case, that would definitely be extremely anticipated. Or how about one thing involving Israel Adesanya? He has mentioned he needs to struggle once more earlier than 2020 is up.

McGregor vs. Poirier would absolutely be excessive on the checklist it doesn’t matter what the UFC has up its sleeve. However I would most likely nonetheless say the UFC light-weight title unification matchup between Nurmagomedov and Gaethje is No. 1 for me. That has an opportunity to be a very unimaginable struggle with excessive stakes, together with Nurmagomedov’s unbeaten report. Many pundits imagine Gaethje matches up higher with Nurmagomedov than anybody else does — and I imagine there may be some validity to that.

You additionally should consider that Nurmagomedov continues to be grieving the loss of life of his father, legendary Dagestani coach Abdulmanap. And we do not understand how for much longer Nurmagomedov, who has talked retirement, will probably be round. Each probability we get to see “The Eagle” is particular. He is likely one of the best fighters within the historical past of the game, a grasp of his craft. Everybody is aware of he’ll wrestle, but nobody can cease it. Gaethje, in the meantime, is the game’s foremost purveyor of violence and has honed his approach up to now 12 months. I completely can not anticipate UFC 254 on Oct. 24.

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