Conor McGregor showed up to box. Dustin Poirier showed up to fight. The result was one of the most memorable knockouts in recent UFC history, one that will send Poirier to MMA superstardom.
McGregor spoke to reporters after his second-round TKO loss to Poirier, saying his leg was "completely dead" after taking a series of kicks.
"My leg is completely dead, and even though I felt like I was checking them [Poirier's leg kicks], it was just sinking into the muscle at the front of my leg," McGregor said. "Dustin fought a hell of a fight. I thought I was better than him in the clinch, but too little, too late. My leg was compromised, and I didn't adjust and that's it. Fair play to Dustin."
Poirier smartly targeted McGregor's front leg from the outset with a series of kicks. McGregor, seemingly determined to knock Poirier out with boxing-style punches, never adjusted to the kicks and noticeably lost his mobility as the second round progressed, allowing Poirier to take advantage and land punches to the head that ultimately led to the stoppage.
"I'm happy, but I'm not surprised," Poirier said. "I put in the work. We're 1-1 now. Maybe we have to do it again. The goal was to be technical and pick my shots, not brawl at all. I have a tendency to go a little crazy, and I did in this one a little at the end, but I had him hurt."
McGregor had not fought since his 40-second TKO win over Donald Cerrone last January. He cited his prolonged inactivity as a reason for his loss, but McGregor's failures in big fights have become a pattern. Since taking a break in 2017 to be embarrassed by Floyd Mayweather Jr. in a boxing match, McGregor has been overmatched by better all-around fighters in Khabib Nurmagomedov and Poirier.
While McGregor quickly committed to getting back into the Octagon after the fight, he's likely cost himself an anticipated match with Nurmagomedov, who may now stay retired rather than return. Poirier has now won six of his last seven fights and will hope his own rematch with Khabib is in the offing.