In Conor ‘The Notorious’ McGregor’s first 11 Octagon appearances, there was some sort of bad blood between him and his opponent. If it didn’t exist before the scrap was booked, McGregor went out of his way to create it with tenacious verbal attacks.
However, after his reputation took such a major hit with all of his troubles, including multiple arrests and sexual assault allegations, away from the sport and his shenanigans before and after his UFC 229 loss to Khabib Nurmagomedov, McGregor was ‘Mr. Nice Guy’ leading into his last two bouts vs. Donald ‘Cowboy’ Cerrone and Dustin ‘The Diamond’ Poirier.
The results were mixed. The former champ champ from Dublin, Ireland, defeated Cerrone in just 40 seconds with shoulder strikes, a headkick and several punches to finish the job.
In the UFC 246 presser two days before facing Cerrone, McGregor said, “Mark my words, there will be blood spilled Saturday night in the Octagon, but it will not be bad blood.”
After desperately trying to get another bout scheduled for the rest of 2020, McGregor was finally booked for a rematch with Poirier on Jan. 24 in the UFC 257 headliner.
Before they fought in a featherweight showdown at UFC 178, there was animosity galore between McGregor and Poirier. McGregor’s trash talk about Poirier’s upbringing in Lafayette, LA., clearly got under his skin, especially when the Irishman spoke of him as a “hillbilly.”
McGregor dusted Poirier via first-round KO in just 106 seconds in Las Vegas on Sept. 27 of 2014. But the rematch was at lightweight, where Poirier had moved up after the loss to McGregor.
Poirier jumped up to 155 pounds and started his tenure in the division with four consecutive victories, including three via first-round knockouts. After a brief hiccup in a first-round KO loss to Michael Johnson, Poirier went 5-0 with one no-contest in next his six appearances.
Three of the five wins came over a sitting champion (featherweight kingpin Max Holloway moved up to 155 to try to join the champ-champ club) and two former champions in Eddie Alverez and Anthony ‘Showtime’ Pettis. Another win was dubbed the 2018 Fight of the Year by MMAFighting, MMAJunkie and MMAWeekly, as Poirier won a back-and-forth war over Justin Gaethje by fourth-round KO.
The win over Holloway made Poirier the interim lightweight champ while Nurmagomedov was serving a suspension prompted by the post-fight brawl after his fourth-round submission triumph over McGregor.
In a battle to unify the lightweight belts at UFC 242 in Abu Dhabi on Sept. 7 of 2019, Nurmagomedov retained his belt with a third-round submission win over Poirier.
Poirier bounced back with a hard-fought unanimous-decision victory over Dan ‘Hangman’ Hooker in a five-round headliner last summer.
During the promotion of the McGregor-Poirier rematch on Jan. 24, McGregor complimented Poirier on his career accomplishments since they first met as featherweights. He also offered to donate $500,000 to Poirier’s foundation called ‘The Good Fight’ back on the bayou that helps kids in Lafayette that come from low-income families.
After Poirier evened the score with a second-round KO win at UFC 257, a trilogy bout was quickly agreed upon. With Nurmagomedov retiring after his last title defense over Gaethje, Poirier passed on a title shot for another big payday to face McGregor.
However, Poirier let it be known on social media this past Sunday that McGregor still hasn’t donated the half-million dollars he publicly agreed to give prior to UFC 257.
The back and forth continued…
Then McGregor threatened to back out on this summer’s trilogy scrap.
After that war of words, cooler heads — and perhaps some colorful verbiage from UFC President Dana White — prevailed, and White announced this morning that the Poirier-McGregor trilogy bout is official for the UFC 264 main event in Las Vegas at T-Mobile Arena.
McGregor told ESPN’s Ariel Helwani earlier today, “I signed my bout agreement this morning. I’m going to rip this game a new asshole July 10th. The Mac is back in Sin City! Full house!”
This will be the first full-capacity show in Las Vegas since before the global pandemic in early 2020.
Most books like DraftKings, William Hill, BetOnline and 5Dimes have the bout as a pick ’em (-110 either way). FanDuel has McGregor listed as short -126 ‘chalk,’ with Poirier available for a +105 payout.
In a showdown of welterweight contenders, Gilbert Burns and Stephen ‘Wonderboy’ Thompson will collide on the main card (and possibly the co-main event?) at UFC 264. Most shops have Thompson installed as a -150 favorite, with Burns as a +125 to +130 underdog.
In a women’s flyweight fight, Jennifer Maia is a -200 favorite vs. Jessica ‘Evil’ Eye, who is a +170 underdog.
Tickets go on sale later this week.