All eyes of the sports world were on the Ultimate Fighting Championship Saturday evening as “The Notorious” Conor McGregor made his highly-anticipated return to the Octagon after a year layoff. What the outside world didn’t know was McGregor’s opponent, Dustin Poirier, is one of the very best lightweights in the world and went through a gauntlet of dangerous opponents to reach this point.
Here are the lists of opponents both men have fought since Dec. 2016.
McGregor: Khabib Nurmagomedov, Donald Cerrone
Poirier: Jim Miller, Eddie Alvarez(2x), Anthony Pettis, Justin Gaethje, Max Holloway, Khabib Nurmagomedov, Dan Hooker
It’s a pretty drastic difference in activity, and it showed Saturday night.
Like is the case for most McGregor fights, all the momentum belonged to him early with the aura of his fantastic entrance and ring announcer Bruce Buffer passionately yelling his name. McGregor won the first round with ease. Both men went toe-to-toe and the stats read a coin flip as to who won the round, but visually, you saw vintage Mystic Mac. He’s turned shoulder strikes into vicious offense as he rammed Poirier’s head into the cage with a brutal shoulder blow. McGregor also used his precise striking to catch Poirier and hurt him for a second.
However, one of the overlooked moments of the first round was Poirier’s leg kicks. He landed 11 strikes to McGregor’s right calf and it neutralized McGregor’s speed that helps him set up his striking. This became apparent in the second round as Poirier became comfortable in the pocket and found success in the exchanges. While still being a stationary target, Poirier found a rhythm and when he put McGregor’s back against the fence, that was all she wrote as Poirier brought the volume that couldn’t be stopped by the very best. A right hook on the button dropped McGregor and Poirier finished the job to net the second-round victory by technical knockout.
Poirier moves back into the No. 1 contender spot in the lightweight division, while McGregor has to go back to the drawing board if he is serious about being a champ in the organization again.
Michael Chandler def. Dan Hooker via TKO(punches). Round 1(2:30)
Coming from the ranks of Bellator, Chandler made his UFC debut in grand fashion as he asserted his striking prowess early and didn’t hold back as he dropped Hooker and finished the job inside three minutes. It’s now the third-straight TKO for Chandler inside three minutes. It’s safe to say his name will also be in the hat when Dana White decides what to do with the lightweight division.
Welcome UFC fans to the Michael Chandler show.
Marina Rodriguez def. Amanda Ribas via TKO (elbow & punches). Round 2(0:54)
The biggest shock of the night came in the pay-per-view curtain jerker as Rodriguez stifled the quick ascent of Ribas. Ribas’ witty personality and entertaining fight style made her a household name and she had a grand opportunity to solidify her stardom Saturday night. It didn’t happen as Rodriguez clipped her with a vicious right hand. She continued to ground & pound Ribas to oblivion and began celebrating as referee Herb Dean stepped in, but didn’t stop the fight. When Rodriguez noticed that the fight wasn’t over, she gathered herself quickly and continued to pummel Ribas until Dean finally stopped the fight.
Rodriguez now becomes the household name as Ribas returns to phase one of getting to notoriety.