Booking the trilogy fight between Dustin Poirier and Conor McGregor isn’t the right move to make.
Trilogy fights are a special moment in combat sports, especially when they come at a time in which both fighters are surging and forcing the issue around a third battle. But that does not mean that all trilogy fights need to happen sooner rather than later. UFC president Dana White is pushing for a third fight between Dustin Poirier and Conor McGregor. Looking at the rest of the division, this is not the fight to make, especially when much more can be done to build up the rest of the roster.
On Friday, White was on Get Up on ESPN where he talked about the potential third fight between McGregor and Poirier.
“Well, when you have two guys that are in their positions—Dustin is the No. 1 ranked guy in the world, you got Conor who is ranked No. 6, and they want the trilogy, you got to go with the trilogy,” White said. “We’re probably going to try to put that fight together this summer.”
At UFC 257, Poirier needed less than 10 minutes to finish off McGregor, stopping him in the second round via technical knockout. It is one of the biggest wins of Poirier’s career, and an important victory over a man who defeated him in 2014. Poirier’s next fight should be either a defense of the lightweight title or for the belt, nothing less. Unfortunately, White’s aspirations around Khabib Nurmagomedov and keeping a potential fight with him and McGregor on the table limits the options for not only Poirier but the rest of the division as well.
Conor McGregor has questions to answer
First, there is the questions around McGregor’s performance. He looked poised to put on a great outing when the first five minutes ended, as the consensus was that he won the first round. But as Poirier stuck to his game plan and blasted McGregor with leg kicks, he began to wilt in a fashion no one expected. McGregor struggled to deal with a technique that has become commonplace in MMA. He even admitted to struggling with the situation.
“That calf kick, that low calf kick – I’ve never experienced that before. It was a good one,” McGregor said during the post-fight press conference. “I’ll adopt a different approach for the trilogy with Dustin because those leg kicks are not to be messed with.”
The best option for McGregor would be to take another fight to test out that “different approach.” The calf kick is becoming a frequently used weapon in the cage and McGregor can expect that future opponents will add it to their arsenal to battle him in the future. McGregor should take the opportunity to work on this craft and show he can successfully use it in the cage before attempting to do so against the man that brutally stopped a few short weeks ago.
Build up Dustin Poirier as the star
Then there’s Poirier. His poise and performance are not being talked about enough after UFC 257. The focus has been around what McGregor did wrong, his enchantment with boxing, or other excuses that denigrate Poirier’s win. Even White’s comments on Get Up cut into the skills that Poirier showed at UFC 257. The UFC has an opportunity to build him into a bigger star, especially since he is one of the few individuals that do not come with the extra, cringe-worthy baggage that is all throughout mixed martial arts.
How can they get there? By awarding Poirier the title for his performance and scheduling him to face someone like Charles Oliveira who deserves the next shot. The lightweight division is filled with men that are ready for their opportunity at the top, the story does not have to circle around McGregor. Plus, that does not mean McGregor cannot be involved, but he should focus on fighting an opponent lower in the rankings to build himself back up, just as he did with Donald Cerrone in 2020.
White is going to do whatever he can to keep the hopes of a Nurmagomedov vs. McGregor fight alive. Even if that means sacrificing the rest of the 155-pound group. Booking a trilogy fight between Poirier and McGregor is not the right move to make currently.