UFC 257 was a big hit, and the main event between Conor McGregor and Dustin Poirier was probably the highlight of the night. Despite being an underdog, Poirier knocked out McGregor in the second round, and this was McGregor’s first KO loss in the UFC.
That being said, Dustin Poirier achieved this KO with the help of his leg kicks, and they caused some serious damage to Conor McGregor’s legs.
A recap of UFC 257
Most fans had plenty of reasons to think that McGregor would come out on top. Not only did he easily beat Poirier the first time that they fought six years ago, but McGregor had quickly dismantled his last opponent, Donald Cerrone, as well. Had McGregor won this fight, he would probably be fighting for the title very soon.
For Poirier, this was a chance to prove to himself and to the world that he had made a lot of improvements to his game. After all, Poirier won himself the interim lightweight belt, and while he lost to Khabib Nurmagomedov, he was still a top contender who could fight for the title soon.
Both fighters loved to strike, but most fans thought that it was everything other than punching that would decide the night. The fighter with the better kicks, the better wrestling, and the better jiu-jitsu would probably come out on top, and that was actually the case. By the second round, Poirier managed to knock McGregor out.
How Dustin Poirier exploited a weakness in Conor McGregor’s game
For one reason or another, McGregor seemed to have expected a boxing match, as he kept throwing punches and he kept his guard high. With that high guard in place, McGregor made it very easy for Poirier to kick his legs, since McGregor’s hands were closer to his head. And so, as fans saw, Poirier kicked and kicked at McGregor’s legs repeatedly.
These kicks paid off because, after the end of the first round, it became apparent that McGregor was in serious pain. His right leg, which was the leg that Poirier had targeted, was swelling, and he could barely put any weight on it. Like one fan on Reddit wrote, “His leg was a balloon.”
That Redditor was making a reply to a video from a doctor who had analyzed the fight. The doctor said, in summary, that Poirier’s kicks, which were hitting the lower calf of McGregor’s right leg, was hitting a major nerve.
Repeated damage to that nerve, according to the doctor, will cause severe pain, a loss of feeling, as well as a reduced ability to control the leg. None of that is ideal for a fight, and it was a major reason why Poirier was able to beat McGregor.
Why did this work against Conor McGregor?
As fans on Reddit discussed, leg kicks have, essentially, revolutionized the sport, and they can change how a fight goes when they’re used well. However, they’re not a secret weapon that’s unbeatable. Leg kicks can be beaten by “checking” them, and McGregor is aware of this, as he’s checked leg kicks in the past.
Furthermore, like fans on Reddit said, McGregor and his team should’ve been aware of Poirier’s leg kicks, as Poirier actually threw them in their first fight too.
But, like one fan said, “It’s also possible that they simply never even entertained it as a threat. In the first fight Dustin hit him with leg kicks but Conor clipped him and it made Dustin just constantly back up worrying about the left hand instead of keeping up with the gameplan anymore.”
Regardless of why McGregor failed to patch up this hole in his game, this fight showed that no matter how good a fighter is, their bodies can only take so much damage before collapsing.