A day after suffering a gruesome leg injury in his loss to Dustin Poirier in UFC 264 in Las Vegas, Conor McGregor underwent successful surgery, he and his management team said on Sunday night.
“Conor is in recovery after 3 hours of surgery. The surgery was successful repairing fractures of his tibia and fibula,” Audie Attar, McGregor’s agent, said in a statement. “His physicians included Dr. Neal ElAttrache from [Kerlan-Jobe], Conor’s long time orthopedist, and trauma surgeon Dr. Milton Little from Cedars-Sinai. Both doctors are confident that with time he will make a full recovery. We anticipate his return to the octagon.”
McGregor also posted some reaction on Twitter on Sunday, saying, “Just out of the surgery room guys! Surgery went excellent! Feeling tremendous! 6 weeks on crutch and we build back! Let’s go! God bless.”
He later posted a video on social media, thanking the fans for their support.
Poirier hit McGregor with a combination at the end of the first round of Saturday’s highly anticipated main event. McGregor went to plant his left foot and his leg buckled, sending him to the mat. Poirier followed up with punches on the ground as time expired in the round.
With McGregor clearly hurt, referee Herb Dean called the lightweight bout. The official result was Poirier by TKO (doctor’s stoppage) at 5:00 of the first round. A stretcher was brought in to transport McGregor to the hospital. The video replay showed McGregor’s lower leg bent gruesomely as his foot hit the canvas.
A defeated McGregor, after the round, was sitting dejected and leaning against the cage, breathing heavily. His face was bruised, blood streaming from his left ear. It was a scene not many could have predicted beforehand, despite McGregor’s underdog status for the fight.
“Doctor’s stoppage! Doctor’s stoppage!” McGregor yelled toward the center of the cage, and the fight was eventually labeled as such.
But the drama was just beginning. A day later, McGregor did his best to fan the flames.
“The place was absolutely electric. It was a hell of a first round,” he said in his post-surgery video posted on Twitter. “It would have been nice to get to that second round, and then you know, to see what’s what. But it is what it is, that’s the nature of the business.”
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Grateful for the fans or not, the finish did leave the sold-out crowd disappointed. There was a mixture of boos and cheers when Poirier was announced as the winner of one of the most anticipated trilogy fights in UFC history.
“I beat the guy,” Poirier said in his postfight interview.
Poirier said he hurt McGregor’s ankle on a checked kick and then the ankle buckled at the end of the round. McGregor denied that it was a checked kick that did it. Regardless, Poirier picked up his 15th career first-round finish.
“This is not over,” McGregor said Saturday, and he reiterated that after the surgery.
“It was not to be,” he said in the video. “You know, Dustin, you can celebrate that illegitimate win all you want, but you’ve done nothing in there. That second round would have shown all.”
UFC president Dana White said Poirier will fight for the UFC lightweight title next against champion Charles Oliveira and that when McGregor is healthy, he probably will get a fourth fight against Poirier.
“When Conor is healed and ready to go, we’ll do the rematch, I guess,” White said. “Poirier will do his thing until Conor is ready.”
White was among those disappointed not to see the fight at least make a second round, saying Saturday he believed that had McGregor not been injured, he would have gotten out of the first.
“His ankle snapped from throwing punches. He was fighting back,” White said. “It wasn’t like he was up against the cage with Dustin unloading punches on him. If his ankle doesn’t break, I think we get to the end of the round.”
Poirier, for his part, said he and McGregor “are going to fight again, whether it’s in the Octagon or on the sidewalk. … He was saying that he was going to kill me. You don’t say stuff like that.”
Poirier said he wasn’t sure he felt a sense of closure following the trilogy.
“I need to digest it all, because right now, it kind of feels weird,” he said. “It’s not a good feeling.”
Poirier stopped McGregor at UFC 257 in January via second-round TKO. In 2014, at UFC 178, McGregor knocked out Poirier in less than two minutes.
McGregor came out throwing more kicks Saturday night than he did in their second fight six months ago. His lack of kicks was a criticism in that bout. They looked effective early, landing to Poirier’s body and legs. But Poirier hurt McGregor with a punching combination and big left hand. McGregor initiated a clinch and then jumped a guillotine choke attempt, taking the bout to the mat.
Poirier, 32, landed hard ground-and-pound efforts from the top position, but McGregor countered with sharp elbows from the bottom. Poirier landed more punches from the top as McGregor attempted to land upkicks. Poirier gave McGregor a chance to get up and then sent him back to the canvas with a combination, combined with that unnatural twisting of McGregor’s leg.
Poirier (28-6, 1 NC) has won three straight and has just one loss since 2016, a defeat in a lightweight title fight against undefeated all-time great Khabib Nurmagomedov.
McGregor (22-6) was the first UFC fighter to hold two titles in two divisions at the same time, after beating Eddie Alvarez for the lightweight title in 2016 while already holding the featherweight belt. But the 32-year-old has just one win and has only fought four times since that Alvarez bout, not including his boxing match with Floyd Mayweather.
All that said, McGregor’s confidence — especially after Sunday’s surgery — has not wavered.
“Onwards and upwards we go,” he said. “We dust ourselves off. We build ourselves back and we come back better than ever. Let’s go team.”
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