Dustin “Diamond” Poirier (27-6) shone bright in Abu Dhabi as he delivered an absolute stunner to even out the score against former champion Conor “Notorious” McGregor (22-5) via second-round knockout in UFC 257 at Etihad Arena on Sunday, January 24.
Poirier wore McGregor out with his calf kicks in the opening round before he turned up the heat in the second, landing a solid left hand that made McGregor backpedal against the cage.
The American immediately followed up with a flurry of punches and sent McGregor to sleep with a nasty right hand, finally avenging his technical knockout loss to the Irishman in their first matchup in 2014.
“I’m happy but not surprised,” Poirier said. “I put in the work. The goal was to be technical, pick my shots, and not brawl at all. I have a tendency to go all-in and you saw that at the end of this fight, but I got him hurt so I went a little crazy.”
With his impressive victory and with Khabib Nurmagomedov still out of the picture, Poirier believes that he is the champion of the 155-pound division.
“I feel like this is the title fight,” he said. “If Khabib’s not coming back, and me and Conor are the two best guys, I think this is the title fight and I’m the champion.”
McGregor, on the other hand, embraced the loss with grace and blamed his poor performance on his inactivity inside the cage. His last fight was a first-round win against Donald Cerrone more than a year ago.
“The leg kicks and calf kicks were really good. My legs were dead, I wasn’t as comfortable as I needed. It’s the inactivity,” McGregor said.
In the co-main event, “Iron” Michael Chandler (22-5) proved all the doubters wrong in his UFC debut as he finished off No. 6 lightweight contender Dan “The Hangman” Hooker (20-10) in the opening round.
The former Bellator lightweight champion did not waste time and announced his arrival in the UFC with a left-hand bomb that put Hooker down to the ground.
“It’s been such a long road, lot of ups, couple downs but every road has led me to this,” Chandler said. “I tell you all this – this is the greatest moment in my professional life.”
Chandler then went on top of the cage to execute a celebratory backflip and immediately called out reigning lightweight champion Nurmagomedov, as well as McGregor and Poirier, and proclaimed that he is the new king of the lightweight division.
“Surprise, surprise, there’s a new king in the lightweight division,” Chandler said. “Khabib, if you ever do see fit to grace us with your presence back here in the UFC octagon, in your quest for your 30th win, you know you gonna beat somebody, so beat me if you can.”
The hot streak continued for Makhmud “Mach” Muradov (25-6) as he picked up his 14th straight victory against Andrew “El Dirte” Sanchez (13-6) via a third-round knockout.
Muradov dictated the pace throughout the fight with his striking before landing a heavy right hand in the final round that made Sanchez wobble and forced the referee to stop the bout.
Meanwhile, Marina Rodriguez (13-1-2) kicked off the main card with a huge upset as she knocked out rising strawweight prospect Amanda Ribas (10-2) in the second round.
Ribas took control in the opening round and asserted her dominance on the ground. But Rodriguez came out huge in the second round and landed a solid right hand that absolutely stunned Ribas.
With her victory, Rodriguez returned to the win column after suffering her first career loss against Carla Esparza last July. – Rappler.com