Andrew Bondarev ’22
The UFC has been quite the draw in the past few years, and its growth is rapidly accelerated towards the direction of stronger media coverage and social media marketing. On January 24th, Conor McGregor faced Dustin Poirier in a rematch in which both fighters came in with fresh perspectives and experience. Despite both of them sharing a loss against the currently-retired Khabib Nurmagomedov, Poirier seemed to be the hungrier of the two and used this opportunity to avenge his previous loss to “The Notorious”.
The -340 favorite Conor McGregor changed his style for this fight, taking on a boxing stance, contrary to the karate-stance he took on before his bout with Jose Aldo. No longer serenading his opponent with his trash talk, the Irish former two-division champion was searching for a return to glory. This return to glory would mean an attempt at a championship opportunity he did not have a chance at since October 2018. McGregor was once at the heights of the sport, even facing Floyd Mayweather for a multi-million dollar showdown as the first of its kind. However, the bus attack on Khabib as well as the post-fight brawl brought attention to him outside of the octagon, as well as being arrested for a Dublin street fight.
On the other hand, Dustin Poirier is a well-rounded mixed martial artist that was arguably a tougher matchup for Khabib than either McGregor or Justin Gaethje. One can see that ever since his original knockout loss against McGregor in September 2014, Poirier has used this time to evolve. Using circuit workouts as well as starting his training camp months ahead of Conor, he understood the work cut out for him and utilized the time he had wisely.
The UFC’s main fighting competitor boxing has struggled to come back fully ever since the COVID-19 pandemic beginning, as significant fights have been few and far between. This is good news for UFC and the centralized business behind it, as they have used their chances time and time again to host championship bouts. Mainly, Kamaru Usman and Israel Adesanya have dominated recent headlines in the midst of recent UFC cards, ushering in a continued quarantine-proof continuation of the franchise. With the future vacancy of Khabib Nurmagomedov’s welterweight belt presumably, managers may be interested in a trilogy match between McGregor and Poirier.