And the significance goes deeper than the winner likely landing a title shot against lightweight champ Charles Oliveira.
For Poirier, the decision to face McGregor for a third time meant passing up the opportunity to fight for the title vacated by the retirement of Khabib Nurmagomedov. Poirier has held the interim belt before, but being undisputed champ is the dream of every fighter. Poirier is betting on himself, confident he’ll beat McGregor again in what should be the most lucrative fight of his career. The plan is to win the money fight first and then go after the title fight. A loss would put his title quest on an uncertain path.
For McGregor, he’s trying for his first win over a ranked opponent since he beat Eddie Alvarez in 2016. Once considered one of the top pound-for-pound fighters in the world, McGregor now just hopes to silence the critics who suggest he lost his mojo after attaining incredible wealth. Can McGregor regain his championship form? That’s a huge part of the backdrop for this blockbuster. And the reality is, despite McGregor’s recent plight, he could very well land the title shot with a victory.
For now, it’s about the trilogy. McGregor KOd Poirier in 90 seconds in 2014 as his star ascended to unprecedented heights, and Poirier avenged the loss on Jan. 23 with a second-round KO.
Keep checking back as this story will be updated with news, features, videos and social media observations as one of the most anticipated trilogies in combat sports history approaches.
No title at stake, but McGregor’s legacy will be on the line
Let me tell you why there is so much riding on this trilogy fight … it’s not outlandish to say that the entire narrative of McGregor’s athletic career could be on the line in this fight.
As of this moment, what would we say about McGregor the fighter? Not the superstar. Not the entertainer. If he were to retire right now, how would we define his athletic achievement?
— Brett Okamoto
Capacity crowd in Vegas will be on hand
A capacity crowd will be present at UFC 264 in Las Vegas, UFC president Dana White announced. The pay-per-view will be held at T-Mobile Arena.
“I’m so happy to finally be able to say Vegas is back,” White said in his tweeted video. “This summer Las Vegas is back open for business and on July 10, UFC 264 will be at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas at 100% capacity. Ladies and gentlemen, that’s 20,000 fans.”
The charity saga: McGregor donates, but not to Poirier
Dustin Poirier reacts to Conor McGregor donating $500K to a Boys & Girls Club in Louisiana, saying that ultimately charity wins and people will be helped.
Conor McGregor has donated $500,000 to a Boys & Girls Club in Louisiana as an apparent resolution to an issue he had with rival Dustin Poirier.
Earlier this month, McGregor and Poirier bickered on social media about McGregor’s pledge to donate $500,000 to Poirier’s The Good Fight Foundation. Poirier tweeted that McGregor reneged on his promise following Poirier’s TKO win over McGregor at UFC 257 on Jan. 24. McGregor shot back that his team wanted more details about what the money would be used for.
Sept. 27, 2014: The first time they fought
On Unlocking Victory, Dominick Cruz breaks down how Conor McGregor set up his knockout win vs. Dustin Poirier in 2014.
Conor McGregor (16-2) made quick work of another UFC featherweight, knocking out Dustin Poirier with a grazing left hand at 1:46 of the first round.
There was some controversy over whether McGregor hit Poirier (16-4) in the back of the head with his elbow as he followed through, but referee Herb Dean made no such signal, and Bob Bennett, Nevada State Athletic Commission executive director, told ESPN.com the elbow landed to a legal area of Poirier’s head.
“He caught me with one, but other than that I feel good. I’ll have to go watch it back, but it felt great,” McGregor said.
“I’m honored to hear a percentage of the tickets were bought in Ireland and my countrymen came to support me. When one of us go to war, we all go to war. Our countrymen have been fighting our whole lives. This is where we come from.”
— Brett Okamoto
Jan. 23, 2021: The rematch: Poirier stuns McGregor
Daniel Cormier breaks down Dustin Poirier’s most effective strikes vs. Conor McGregor in UFC 257. Watch the full episode on ESPN+.
Dustin Poirier avenged his loss to Conor McGregor and picked up by far the biggest win of his career.
The perennial UFC lightweight contender shocked McGregor, beating him via TKO after swarming him with punches at 2:32 of the second round Saturday night in the main event of UFC 257 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.
— Marc Raimondi
How Poirier grew after losing to McGregor and his head games
The only time Dustin Poirier wanted to fight an opponent outside of the cage was the week of UFC 178.
Poirier remembers standing behind a curtain at the MGM Grand Conference Center in Las Vegas in September 2014, waiting to get on the scale. He recalls seeing a few scuffles in the crowd, which was packed with Irish fans. He remembers being dehydrated and anxious to weigh in. And he remembers tension after weeks of being the target of Conor McGregor’s trash talk.
“I wanted to make the guy pay, you know? I was angry,” Poirier says. “I remember wanting to fight him at the weigh-in, which is crazy to look back at. I was just in such a weird place in my mind.”
— Brett Okamoto
McGregor’s journey: Success, controversy, star power
UFC president Dana White remembers the first time he heard the name Conor McGregor, a name that would forever change the promotion.
White was in Dublin to receive an award from Trinity College in 2013 when he invited UFC fans on Twitter to join him at a nearby pub after the ceremony. Drinks would be covered by the UFC president.
It was that night, Feb. 11, when he first heard a name that would become the most talked about in UFC history.
“The place was packed, full of people,” White said. “I was in there with the fans all night, and everybody kept talking about Conor McGregor.”
See which of the two is ranked among ESPN’s P4P top 10
There was a time when Conor McGregor was considered one of the best fighters on the planet, with a future that could make him the GOAT.
But a lucrative sidetrack to box Floyd Mayweather Jr. derailed those plans on Aug. 26, 2017. Was it a temporary derailment? The answer might be revealed in at UFC 264.
Meanwhile, Poirier has been busy and successful, beating some of the best in the world, including McGregor in the rematch.
One of these two was ranked among the top 10 pound-for-pound fighters in the world.
What they’re saying
Some commenters noticed some bruising around McGregor’s left eye.