Conor McGregor and Dustin Poirier set for highly anticipated trilogy bout at UFC 264

UFC superstar Conor McGregor and rival Dustin Poirier will fight for a third time at UFC 264 this weekend in Las Vegas.

Updated: July 7, 2021 • 10:00 AM ET

conor mcgregor.jpg

Conor McGregor - Wikimedia Commons

Arguably the most popular fighter in MMA history, Conor McGregor will return to the Octagon this Saturday at UFC 264 for a trilogy bout with the No. 1 ranked lightweight in the world, Dustin Poirier.

McGregor became the UFC’s biggest star with brash trash talk and a fighting style full of flair, but his 13-second knockout of Jose Aldo to win the featherweight title in 2015 rocketed him to another stratosphere. Before that, however, McGregor had already secured wins over some of the biggest up-and-coming names in the promotion, including former featherweight champion Max Holloway and Poirier.

McGregor and Poirier’s first fight came at UFC 178 in 2014, which ended with the Irishman securing a first-round TKO over Poirier. Both fighters had yet to reach their prime at the time, evidenced by how much each has improved since their first encounter.

After the loss to McGregor, Poirier immediately moved up a weight class to lightweight and has only lost two fights in 14 outings ever since. One of those losses came in 2016 by knockout to Michael Johnson with the other coming by submission in 2019 to one of the greatest fighters in MMA history, Khabib Nurmagomedov. In his last 14 fights, Poirier has also secured impressive victories over Diego Ferreira, Jim Miller, Anthony Pettis, Justin Gaethje, Eddie Alvarez, Holloway to become the Interim UFC lightweight champion and Dan Hooker. And although Poirier defeated Holloway to become an interim champion and subsequently lost a unification bout with Nurmagomedov, his biggest victory to date may have come in his last fight against McGregor in January.

Poirier avenged his TKO loss to McGregor roughy six years earlier by earning a second-round TKO victory over the UFC’s biggest star earlier this year. The victory was certainly shocking, as McGregor had only lost two fights in his UFC career and had previously secured a convincing win over Poirier. And while the 32-year-old Poirier could have likely fought for the lightweight title after dominating Hooker last June, two fights against McGregor seems to be the more lucrative route. If Poirier defeats McGregor on Saturday, though, he’ll likely be next in line to fight lightweight champion Charles Oliveira, who will be cage side for the bout this weekend.

Although he’s ranked No. 5 in the lightweight division, McGregor will also likely receive a title shot against Oliveira if he defeats the No. 1 contender this weekend. If he loses a second straight fight against Poirier, though, McGregor will slide further down the lightweight rankings and serious questions about whether he can contend for titles anymore would come.

A loss on Saturday would be McGregor’s third in his last four fights in the Octagon, so winning is imperative for him to keep some of the shine that makes him the UFC’s biggest draw. Including the loss to Poirier in his last bout, McGregor also lost to Nurmagomedov in October 2018 by submission. In fact, his only victory since the end of 2016 has come against an aging Donald Cerrone, who has five losses in his last six bouts.

It’s not often that non-title fights headline UFC pay-per-views, but the third fight between McGregor and Poitier may be the most anticipated encounter of the summer. While both fighters will likely be fighting for a title shot, it will be most interesting to see how the 32-year-old McGregor performs after losing two of his last three fights.

 

The rest of the main card on ESPN+ at 10 p.m. EST

Welterweight bout - No. 2 Gilbert Burns vs. No. 4 Stephen Thompson

Heavyweight bout - Tai Tuivasa vs. Greg Hardy

Women’s bantamweight bout - No. 4 Irene Aldana vs. No. 5 Yana Kunitskaya

Bantamweight bout - Sean O’Malley vs. Kris Moutinho

 

Prelims on ESPN at 8 p.m. EST

Welterweight bout - Carlos Condit vs. Max Griffin

Welterweight bout - Niko Price vs. Michel Pereira

Featherweight bout - Ryan Hall vs. Ilia Topuria

Middleweight bout - Trevin Giles vs. Dricus Du Plessis

 

Early Prelims on UFC Fight Pass at 6:15 p.m. EST

Women’s flyweight bout - No. 4 Jennifer Maia vs. No. 7 Jessica Eye

Middleweight bout - No. 13 Omari Akhmedov vs. No. 15 Brad Tavares

Flyweight bout - Zhalgas Zhumagulov vs. Jerome Rivera

Middleweight bout - Hu Yaozong vs. Alen Amedovski

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