In their rematch, the #1-ranked lightweight Poirier knocked McGregor out after immobilizing him with calf kicks, which the Irishman had no answer for.
It’s fair to say it wasn’t a good night for The Notorious. Not only was he knocked out cold for the first time, but so tenderized was his leg that he hobbled to the post-fight press conference in crutches.
“My leg is completely dead,” he told the press. “It was badly compromised, it’s like an American football in my suit at the minute.”
Poirier expects McGregor to return the favor in their trilogy bout
“He felt how crippling those kicks and how painful those kicks are and how much it changes the dynamic of a fight that I think he’s going to try and use them against me now,” said Poirier.
Calf kicks have emerged as an effective tactic in recent years, during which time The Notorious has largely been absent from the octagon. After his defeat to Poirier, McGregor admitted that he never trained to combat calf kicks.
Poirier said that he became painfully aware of the tactic a few years ago.
“I fought Jim Miller a few years ago back in New York at the Barclays Center, and he was the first guy to use them against me,” Poirier told Teddy Atlas. “And after that fight, my leg was so damaged, I had a whole new respect for the calf kick, the low leg kick game, and I’m expecting Conor to do the same now. For me, whenever those low calf kicks first started getting more popular, and I’m a southpaw so for these calf kicks to work, it has to be against another southpaw.”
While Poirier said he still intends to throw calf kicks at McGregor, he’ll be wary of the Irishman returning the favor.
“I’m working on still landing my offense with my low kicks, but now I’m working on defending a lot more than I used to,” said Poirier. “Just like in that fight, if he [McGregor] would have started checking those kicks, or if I would have been getting taken down because I was chasing that leg kick, then I would have called an audible and gone with something else.
“I just used them because they were there, it was damaging him, he wasn’t making the right decisions to start defending them, and I knew how much they hurt, and I knew it was going to change the fight. He wouldn’t be able to plant and throw. That power, his mobility would be taken away. The same thing in this one. If the kicks are there, I’m going to use them. If not, I’ve got a tool bag full of tricks that I can’t wait to show you guys.”
In the upcoming UFC 264 rubber match, Poirier will be looking to secure a second successive victory over McGregor after having lost their first bout by knockout. The duo’s recent interactions have contrasted sharply with the amicable lead up to their previous bout.
In April, Poirier publicly called out McGregor for failing to follow through on a donation to his charity, to which the Irishman responded by donating $500K to another Louisiana-based charity.
And never one to shy from throwing shade, earlier this month McGregor tweeted that Poirier was the easiest opponent he’s faced in the octagon.
What do you think? Will McGregor be able to defend and successfully utilize leg kicks against Poirier?