UFC

His aura is gone! - Poirier and McGregor trade insults ahead of UFC 264

By Sports Desk July 09, 2021

Dustin Poirier will face Conor McGregor at UFC 264 in Las Vegas on Saturday in one of the year's most highly anticipated fights.

The trilogy bout take place at the T-Mobile Arena with a 100 per cent crowd capacity.

"I am so happy to finally be able to say: Vegas is back," UFC president Dana White said when the fight was announced in April.

McGregor had previously claimed the bout was off during an expletive-laden exchange on Twitter and that heated build-up has continued.

Poirier took victory in their previous showdown at UFC 257 in January in Abu Dhabi with a second-round knockout, after which McGregor conceded the result was "a tough one to swallow".

McGregor, who described his opponent's performance three months ago as "phenomenal", stopped the 32-year-old American in 106 seconds in their first encounter in September 2014.

The former two-weight world champion, who is also 32, has not won a UFC bout since January last year.

Fight build-up has been as entertaining you would expect, with McGregor aiming a kick at Poirier as the duo went head to head at the pre-fight news conference on Thursday.

Here are some of the best quotes from the event which took place with both fighters and a large crowd.
 

FIGHTING TALK FROM MCGREGOR

McGregor did not hold back when he explained what he planned to do with Poirier.

"I'm gonna go through his head, put holes in and take it off his shoulders - that's the goal here!

"He's done here, this is it for him. This is the end of the road. 

"Even after that last fight saying, 'Oh I don't love this [fighting] anymore' - he knew what was coming, he knew the smacks he took.

"Saturday night he's getting walked around that octagon like a dog and put to sleep."

POIRIER RESPECTS PUNICHING POWER

And Poirier did not dismiss the threat posed by the Irishman.

"I think he has a big advantage in some areas like his punching power.

"That's been worked on for years, and I'm sure some of it's God gifted, his timing is very good, but I truly believe he is a well-rounded martial artist.

"But he's so successful in those areas that he doesn't have to go in there and shoot for a takedown because he believes he's going to finish the fight on the feet.

"He doesn't have to play jiu-jitsu because he's so confident in what's been working for him, he's knocked out a bunch of greats. Don't fix it if it's not broken, I truly believe he is a well-rounded fighter."

MCGREGOR PROMISES CAREER NIGHT

A crowning moment for McGregor came when he defeated Eddie Alvarez in November 2016 to become the first UFC fighter to be world champion in two weight divisions simultaneously.

He insists there is better still to come from him.

"I'm an evolution of that guy. I'm better than that man. I feel like I've come full circle and I look forward to showing it.

"That night was widely regarded as the single greatest performance in UFC history. This performance on Saturday night, I'm going to top it."

POIRIER DOUBTS THAT IS POSSIBLE

But Poirier does not think McGregor is the same force he once was.

"For me, the aura's not there anymore. Not anymore. 

"A very dangerous fighter sitting right there for sure but I see a man. 

"You guys in the crowd, cheer it up, have fun. But I see a man that I've defeated and know that I can defeat again."

 

MCGREGOR COMPARES POIRIER TO BUSTER DOUGLAS

James 'Buster' Douglas achieved one of sport's greatest upsets by beating Mike Tyson in 1990 but immediately lost his next fight and his titles to Evander Holyfield.

McGregor says the same fate awaits Poirier.

"He's going to be known for that [like Buster Douglas].

"It was a fluke win and I'm going to correct it on Saturday night. It's on now."

POIRIER SAYS HE IS DIFFERENT

McGregor was asked by a fan why he was being so confrontational with Poirier in the build up to this fight after showing significant respect to his opponent around their second bout.

Poirier interjected with a put down, saying "Because he got knocked the f*** out!" before going on to criticise the falling quality of McGregor's trash talk.

"He was not McGregor fast but McGregor sleep. Respect to him and everything that he's done [but his trash talk is] f*****g weak. 

"I don't hate anybody up here. I'm in a different place mentally. 

"I am straight business. I've never really had that hype pushed. I know who I am. I'm the same guy and it's easy to be me.

"I knew this [rematch] was next. As soon as I got to my hotel room that night [in January], I knew this was next. I've kind of been preparing for this fight since that fight ended."

TALE OF THE TAPE

Poirier has 27 wins, six losses and one no contest on his record, while McGregor has 22 wins and five defeats.

Both men are southpaws, 5' 9" and 155 lbs, though McGregor has the reach advantage (74” to 72”).

In their last fight, Poirier attempted more significant strikes than McGregor (91 to 66).

He also landed more, 52 per cent compared to 43 for the Irishman.

McGregor landed 25 times, 23 to the head and just twice to the legs, while Poirer made an impact in both areas, with 30 significant strikes to the head and 18 to the legs.

Related items

  • Neuer happy for milestone-man Muller – and his 'weird' celebrations Neuer happy for milestone-man Muller – and his 'weird' celebrations

    Manuel Neuer was full of praise for Thomas Muller and his "weird" celebrations after the Bayern Munich forward got a milestone goal in the 3-1 win at Greuther Furth.

    Robert Lewandowski's long goalscoring streak ended at 15 consecutive Bundesliga games – one short of Gerd Muller's record – but the champions moved three points clear of Wolfsburg.

    That is now 40 goals in their past eight matches for ruthless Bayern, who led 2-0 courtesy of great finishes from Muller and Kimmich at half-time.

    Benjamin Pavard was given his marching orders for a professional foul on Jeremy Dudziak early in the second half, but a Sebastian Griesbeck own goal extended their lead.

    Cedric Itten's header in the closing stages was too little, too late for bottom side Furth in the Bavarian derby at Sportpark Ronhof on Friday.

    Muller, who also scored the opener in recent victories over Barcelona and Hertha Berlin, is now on 218 goals for Bayern, one more than Karl-Heinz Rummenigge.

    Neuer was delighted for his long-time team-mate, although he joked the forward could be summoned to a meeting with the former Bayern CEO after taking his place in the all-time list.

    "He doesn't get tired and has been around for a long time," Neuer said, as per Bayern's website.

    "I've accompanied him for long stretches of this time, and I'm always happy about every one of Thomas' goals and celebrations, which sometimes look a bit weird with him.

    "I'm especially happy for him personally, because we've been playing together for a long time, but I think he'll have to report to Kalle [Rummenigge] today."

    Bayern, who next face Dynamo Kiev in the Champions League on Wednesday, have started the season with eight consecutive victories under coach Julian Nagelsmann.

    Neuer himself added: "It looks quite good. We scored three goals and showed a good attitude. In the first half, we didn't make enough of it when we had space. We wasted a lot of chances. That's annoying.

    "Despite being a man down, we made it 3-0, which gives you a good feeling. Then we got in between the lines better, but sometimes we were too sloppy.

    "It's nitpicking really, but we can still play more flowing football. We're happy with how it's going, but we always have to take the next step and improve."

  • Solskjaer: Man Utd need to start 1-0 down! Solskjaer: Man Utd need to start 1-0 down!

    Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer joked he has written to the Premier League to ask them if his team can start matches 1-0 down.

    United have come from behind to claim points in top-flight matches against Southampton and West Ham this season and also made a habit of launching comebacks in the 2020-21 campaign.

    But they could not recover from a slow start on Wednesday as they suffered a 1-0 defeat to West Ham in the EFL Cup, with Solskjaer critical of how his team began the game.

    Ahead of Saturday's key home clash against Aston Villa, the United boss knows the trend has to change.

    "We need to start games better of course," he said.

    "I've sent a letter to the Premier League asking if we can start games 1-0 down, it'll make things so much easier for us!

    "Joking apart, it's a big, big part of the game and we need to start better, we can't expect to come back and win games as we have done fantastically in the last 12, 14, 15 months but it's going to catch up with us.

    "It's been looked at and talked about and hopefully we can see a response."

    Despite their cup disappointment, United are joint top of the Premier League with 13 points from five matches.

    United have won 18 of their last 21 home league games against Villa (D2 L1), failing to score on just one occasion in that run, with star forward Cristiano Ronaldo expected to return to the team after being rested against West Ham.

    Solskjaer said ahead of the match at Old Trafford that he believes the Portugal forward is capable of playing into his 40s due to his supreme physical conditioning.

    Villa have earned just one win in their last 45 Premier League games against the Red Devils, racking up an astonishing 33 defeats in that span.

    The visitors have also lost both of their Premier League away games this season, conceding three goals in each defeat, but did thump Everton 3-0 at home in their last top-flight outing.

  • Vini, vidi, vici? Vinicius Junior emerging at last as Real Madrid's next superstar Vini, vidi, vici? Vinicius Junior emerging at last as Real Madrid's next superstar

    "I am not a magician," said Carlo Ancelotti. "Just a coach who has to give players the confidence they need to express their qualities."

    The Real Madrid boss was talking about arguably the standout player from Los Blancos' strong start to the season – and, brilliant as he continues to be, it's not Karim Benzema.

    When Ancelotti spoke before Madrid's 2-1 win at Valencia, Vinicius Junior was on a run of four goals in as many games in LaLiga. That tally reached five in five after he fired in a late equaliser at Mestalla – as many goals as he had scored in 59 previous league matches.

    For attacking players, nothing builds belief like the support of a coach and regularly sticking the ball in the net. Vinicius has both of those things going for him right now, and it's yielding the best form of his Madrid career.

    NEW-MAR

    Signed amid much fanfare from Flamengo three years ago, it has taken Vinicius time to fully find his feet in the Spanish capital. Patience is notoriously thin on the ground where Madrid are concerned, but fans have been more willing than usual to play the long game with the Brazil international, who has already played 88 times in Spain's top flight, a tally bettered by just six compatriots in the club's history.

    Given Marca ran a headline this week asking whether Vinicius' form in 2021-22 meant Madrid had found "the new Neymar" – a player they once wanted to bring back to Spain, no less – it would appear the wait has been worth it.

    Along with five goals, Vinicius has provided two assists and created 10 chances this term, all of them from open play. Only Eden Hazard (12) and Karim Benzema (14) have created more among Madrid's squad. Indeed, among players aged 21 and under, only Erling Haaland (seven goals, three assists) has been directly involved in more goals in 2021-22 in Europe's top five leagues.

    After the first six matches of 2020-21, Vinicius had two goals and zero assists, with three chances created for team-mates. Granted, he had spent 52 fewer minutes on the pitch in those six games than he has this season, but he has undeniably made better use of the time given to him of late.

    In the first six games of 2021-22, Vinicius' 17 shots have come amid a 2.64 expected goals (xG) total, but they account for 4.36 expected goals on target (xGOT), giving some indication as to the high quality of his attempts. (The xG metric assesses the quality of chances, and xGOT looks at the player's actual effort at goal.)

    By contrast, at the same stage of last season, he had xG of 2.58 but xGOT of just 1.49 from 13 shots.

    KYLIAN (IN THE NAME OF)

    A strong indicator of Vinicius' form, his willingness to stand up in matches and why those Neymar comparisons are a little closer to the mark than they once were, is the upturn in his impact when running with the ball.

    After six games in LaLiga last term, he had completed only five of 17 attempted take-ons. That success rate of 29.4 per cent was the lowest of any Madrid player to complete at least one dribble.

    This season, that success rate has jumped to 47.6 per cent, Vinicius having completed 20 of 42 attempted take-ons. These are identical figures to one Kylian Mbappe of Paris Saint-Germain – another Madrid transfer target.

    Not only that, but 42 attempted take-ons is the most by any player in LaLiga in 2021-22, while Vinicius also ranks highest for take-ons in the box (eight) and those ending with a shot (four), and joint-highest for drives into the penalty area (also four).

    HEARTBEAT

    Vinicius is also averaging 62 touches of the ball per 90 minutes, an increase from 57 at this stage of the season in 2020-21. It follows that he is more heavily involved in the action at the top end of the pitch: he has had 36 involvements in shot-ending sequences in LaLiga, a figure bettered only by Real Betis' Nabil Fekir (38) and Madrid's own Benzema (51). On average, his tally has jumped from just over three per game in 2020-21 to more than seven in 2021-22. And, of those sequences this season, 10 have ended in a goal – only Benzema (14) can do better.

    This is a player embracing responsibility, demanding the ball, and dazzling when he gets it: in short, he's showing all the best qualities of Neymar, Mbappe or anyone else Madrid may wish to buy, and offering fans everything they hoped for when he first arrived for €46million in 2018.

    Perhaps competition is bringing the best out of Vinicius: with Gareth Bale back at the Santiago Bernabeu (although presently injured), Eden Hazard showing more encouraging signs and Marco Asensio fully fit again, there is no shortage of options for the Benzema support act. Or maybe Ancelotti really does have the magic touch to keep Vinicius in vibrant form for a whole season, beyond the fleeting glimpses displayed under Zinedine Zidane.

    Whatever the reason, Vinicius has never looked so dangerous in a Madrid shirt. Worryingly for his opponents, there could be plenty more to come.

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.