Dustin Poirier thinks Conor McGregor bringing his pre-fight leg injury to light is a sign of weakness.
McGregor (22-6 MMA, 10-4 UFC) revealed that he’d been having issues prior to the trilogy bout with Poirier (28-6 MMA, 20-5 UFC) at UFC 264, which might’ve contributed to his leg breaking. McGregor posted images of his ankle taped up, as well as an x-ray of his ankle, claiming that both the Nevada Athletic Commission and UFC president Dana White were aware that he had stress fractures in his leg going into the fight. But Poirier thinks McGregor is only offering up excuses as to why he lost.
“Right off the bat, mentally, I just feel like it’s weak,” Poirier said on “THE FIGHT with Teddy Atlas.” “It’s weak, it’s excuses, but I’m trying not to read too far into it or go down these days of reading what videos are out and what people are saying, because I’m back home with my family. It’s a win on my record. I know I did what I needed to do in the fight, pre-fight, in my training camp.
“I crossed and checked all the boxes I needed to check, gave it my all and then went out there and – like we’re saying, it’s noise. Whatever people are gonna say or he’s gonna say, it is what it is. I’m healthy, I’m safe, I’m back home, have another win on my record, and I’m still the No. 1 contender, so those are facts.”
With seconds winding down in the first round, which McGregor was down 10-8 on two of the judges’ scorecards, the Irish superstar snapped his left tibia and fibula while stepping back on a missed punch, forcing doctors to stop the fight in between rounds. The unfortunate ending raised questions, but Poirier doesn’t think the injury was the turning point of the fight.
Poirier recalls stumbling McGregor back with a hard shot early, which he thinks prompted him to clinch because he was hurt.
“We threw crosses at the same time,” Poirier said. “I slipped his, and I kind of threw a looping cross that touched him good, and now I know. I saw the same eyes that I saw in Abu Dhabi when I hurt him on the feet. He makes a certain expression, and his reaction is a certain way when he’s hurt, and now I’ve seen it twice. He was hurt before the grappling and him clinching and the takedown and all that. He was hurt on the feet, and I really feel like if he wouldn’t have engaged in the clinch, I think I would have finished him there. I saw the same look in his eyes, and I knew I was a punch or two away from sitting him down.”
After the fight, a frustrated McGregor deemed Poirier’s win illegitimate and truly believed that he would’ve turned the tide in Round 2. But Poirier thinks it’s become a habit for McGregor to make excuses, just like he did in their rematch when he knocked him out at UFC 257.
“There were a lot of excuses in the last one, too,” Poirier said. “He was getting ready to box, he wasn’t focusing on mixed martial arts, he was getting ready to fight Manny Pacquiao, and a lot of reasons. A lot of excuses. …
“If you’re training for a fight, you’re going to go into fight week with something going on. Whether it’s an elbow, a wrist, a hand, an ankle, something’s gonna be busted up.”
McGregor came out with a leg kick-heavy approach to the fight, where he blasted Poirier with an array of low kicks. So Poirier wonders if McGregor’s leg really was hurt prior, why would he employ such a game plan?
“It’s not a smart game plan if it is hurt,” Poirier said. “Especially where he was kicking. He was kicking not my thigh or my calf muscle; he was kicking at my knee. It was bone on bone. I wouldn’t … even with technique, usually you want to set up these kicks. He was throwing them by themselves. Usually you want to punch before you kick, just to set it up, just to get me thinking about something else.
“He was throwing kicks by themselves, single kicks by themselves directly on my knee. Maybe it was in his head that he needed to come out and show me that he can do it too, because I tore hiss leg up in the second fight. I have no clue what him and his coaches were thinking.”
The aftermath of the fight turned ugly, with McGregor insulting both Poirier and his wife. While Poirier admits he didn’t recognize that McGregor had broken his leg, it became apparent as soon as the round ended.
“That was a little surprising, but this guy will go as far as – there’s no boundaries to this man’s talking and hype and stuff that he would do,” Poirier said. “I was surprised that, with the broken leg, he was sitting there still talking, but the things he said I wasn’t surprised because he was talking crazy all week.
“When you’re in the moment, in the eye of the storm, it’s kind of crazy, so I didn’t know his leg broke because we both were punching at the same time. He went down then I started punching. I didn’t know his leg was broke until the bell rang, and I started walking away. He was sitting on his butt holding his leg, and I kind of saw that his ankle and his leg were hanging. There was no bone there, it was just a flap of skin there. That’s when I realized he broke his leg.”