Dustin Poirier scored a sensational knockout victory over Conor McGregor at UFC 257, decking him in the second round to put himself in pole position for another crack at the lightweight title.
The KO was the first in McGregor’s storied career and came after the Irishman had dominated the fight from the opening bell.
Controlling the centre of the octagon on Fight Island in Abu Dhabi, McGregor landed some hard shots with his right hand but he couldn’t find the blow with his left that would have finished the fight.
Instead Poirier scored with a hard right to get his back off the fence before landing a flurry of blows to beat the overwhelming favourite.
McGregor, returning after a year off the scene, was gracious in defeat.
“That low calf kick was very good, my leg was dead and then I wasn’t just as comfortable as I needed to be. It’s inactivity and that’s it. Dustin’s some fighter,” he said.
“If you put in the time in here, you’re going to get cosy in here and I just have to dust it off and come back and that’s what I will do.
“I need activity, you don’t get away with being inactive in this business.
“I’ll take my licks. I’m gutted and I put so much work in. Well done Dustin: 1-1, good man. It’s a tough one to swallow, I put in a lot of work, I’m proud of my work. We’ll get to go again and that’s it.”
Poirier said he was confident of upsetting his decorated opponent.
“I’m happy but I’m not surprised, I put in the work,” he said.
“Conor took this result very professionally and nothing but respect. We’re 1-1, maybe we have to do it again.
“The goal was to be technical, pick my shots, not brawl at all. I felt like I was boxing pretty well with Conor, he hit with some good counters.
“I felt like this was a title fight. If Khabib’s not coming back then me and Conor are the two best guys. I’m the champion.”
The knockout also silenced the thousands in the crowd cheering on McGregor and the arena emptied out quickly once the fight was over.
Poirier, who won the interim lightweight title in 2019 but came up short when Khabib Nurmagomedov beat him for the undisputed crown later the same year.
Nurmagomedov has since retired and if he does not return, Poirier is likely to face Michael Chandler, the former Bellator champion who scored a thunderous first-round knockout victory in his UFC debut over New Zealand’s Dan Hooker in the evening’s co-main event.