Saturday’s highly anticipated UFC 264 ended in a way that nobody predicted, with Dustin Poirier winning via doctor stoppage after Conor McGregor snapped his tibia with only seconds remaining in the very first round.
The event took place in front of a sold-out crowd at the T-Mobile arena in Las Vegas, a crowd that included the largest list of celebrities the UFC has ever accommodated, including former President Donald Trump.
Going into the fight, many fans and analysts were saying that this is a major crossroads in McGregor’s career. If he didn’t win this one, how many fights does he realistically have left, especially fights with legitimate title implications? Additionally, who would end up getting the better of the trilogy between McGregor and Poirier?
How The Fight Played Out
Many also thought that this fight might be slower since each had 1 KO/TKO over the other, meaning perhaps this time they would approach each other slower and try to figure things out along the way. This was not the case. While the fight only lasted 1 round (5 minutes), it was jam-packed. McGregor would open up with a blazing fury of strikes, as he normally does. He also came at Poirier with many vicious calf kicks early, which many credited as the tactic that led to Poirier knocking McGregor out back in January 2021.
McGregor even was able to secure multiple guillotine attempts on Poirier. In fact, it was exactly that guillotine attempt that brought the fight to the ground, where while they were exchanges both ways, Poirier largely dominated with vicious ground and pound, primarily through elbows.
With just 15 seconds left in the round, the fight was stood back up, but not for long. With 7 seconds remaining in the round, McGregor would hit the ground after an exchange. Naturally, many assumed at first that Poirier had dropped him with a punch. However, the replay showed McGregor’s lower shin/ankle snapped as he stepped back on it, which lead him to crumble to the ground and absorb shots from Poirier as he waited for the remaining few seconds to tick off.
An injury to Conor McGregor's leg forced a Doctor's Stoppage in the #UFC264 main event.
Dustin Poirier won via TKO. pic.twitter.com/jsZVltGniI
— ESPN MMA (@espnmma) July 11, 2021
Poirier would get the win via TKO – doctor’s stoppage. As a result, Conor McGregor is now 22-6, and Dustin Poirier is now 28-6.
Where Do We Go From Here?
So now what? In a fight where we were expecting closure, many feel like we didn’t get any. So yes, Poirier technically has won the trilogy, but not in a way that really feels sufficient, as winning because your opponent snapped their leg isn’t necessarily the way that many envision or hope to win.
Do we now get to see a rare 4th fight between the two? UFC President Dana White has already confirmed that Poirier will fight the lightweight champion, Charles Oliveira. However, he also confirmed that McGregor would get a rematch once he’s healed up, which could be odd if Poirier goes on to win the lightweight championship as many think he may do. How would they warrant giving McGregor a shot at the title after coming off 2 losses?
How This Scenario Benefits Everyone
Oddly, this could work out in McGregor’s favor. McGregor can say that this doesn’t really count as a loss, or at least it counts as a loss with an asterisk next to it. But because McGregor lost due to an early doctor’s stoppage, this allows him to continue after a loss even though many were saying he had to win to continue. So now McGregor and Poirier can go in different directions, at least temporarily.
Say what you want about McGregor, as he is definitely a polarizing superstar. Still, nobody can say that he hasn’t fought top talent. After 2 years out of the octagon, he fought Khabib Nurmagomedov for the lightweight championship, who was the most dominant man in the UFC at the time. He then fought Dustin Poirier, who was widely considered to be the next best lightweight in the world after Nurmagomedov.
So this now gives McGregor the chance to fight a different lightweight contender and rack up some octagon time while working his way back into the title picture, while at the same time allowing Poirier to fight for the undisputed lightweight title that he’s been working so hard for, for over half a decade now.
Perhaps, a good move for McGregor would be to fight Rafael Dos Anjos, who was forced out to pull out of their scheduled fight at UFC 196 in 2016, which led to McGregor’s first fight with Nate Diaz. Dos Anjos weighed in as a backup for McGregor and Poirier at UFC 264 should one of them fall out and ended up getting into a scuffle with McGregor backstage after weigh-ins. The two have occasionally gone back and forth at one another since their canceled bout. Dos Anjos is currently the #7 ranked lightweight.
Conor you’re such a snake, sneaking from behind and playing tough. Soon or later we will finish business. I’m not like the guys you play around with.
— Rafael dos Anjos (@RdosAnjosMMA) July 9, 2021
Only time will tell how things play out and what kind of condition McGregor will be in after he recovers from his gruesome injury. However, if you ask me, I feel fairly confident in saying that we haven’t seen the last of Conor McGregor yet.
Onwards and upwards we go ☘️ pic.twitter.com/qKgochlT3t
— Conor McGregor (@TheNotoriousMMA) July 12, 2021