Once the most feared MMA fighter in the world, Conor McGregor will return to the UFC octagon on July 10 as an underdog ready to prove his legendary status. The Irish fighter will be fighting against Dustin Poirier for the second time in 2021, in a hotly anticipated trilogy fight where both will be eager to secure a victory.
McGregor came out of retirement for the January rematch in Abu Dhabi, only for Poirier to win by technical knockout, a reversal of the fortunes when McGregor beat Poirier at their first fight in 2014. This was the latest blow to the former world champion, who continued his losing streak, with no wins since January 2020.
The latest UFC betting odds show that this fight will be close, with some offering equal 10/11 odds for both. As fans was for the hotly anticipated UFC 264 title fight, we’ve looked back at McGregor’s career highlights for what we can expect.
McGregor’s road to the UFC
McGregor made his professional MMA debut as a lightweight in 2008, before soon moving to compete as a featherweight. He lost his debut featherweight battle, as his early mixed success led him to consider moving career paths – it was only when his mum contacted his trainer that his passion for fighting was reinvigorated.
Between 2011 and 2012, McGregor became a force to be reckoned with, entering an eight fight winning streak that saw him net both the CWFC Featherweight and Lightweight championship. He became the first European fighter to hold the titles in two divisions simultaneously.
In 2013, UFC President Dana White was in Dublin, and contacted by several fans telling him to sign McGregor. Days later, McGregor was offered a contract – and he was one step closer to becoming one of the world’s most famous athletes.
The Face of the UFC
McGregor made his MMA debut in April 2013, knocking out Marcus Brimage in round one. After his second fight against featherweight champion Max Holloway, winning via unanimous decision, he was forced to take a ten month break after doctors discovered he had torn his anterior cruciate ligament during the fight.
Upon his return from surgery in 2014, with wins against Diego Brandão and his long term rival Dustin Poirier. He remained unbeatable, and in 2015 won his first Featherweight championship, knocking out José Aldo 13 seconds into the first round – a world record for fastest knockout.
In 2016, he suffered his first UFC loss against Nate Diaz (although he won in a rematch later that year), but also saw him become a two division champion, taking home the lightweight title for the first time. His win against Eddie Alvarez is still considered one of his finest performances in the octagon, and it made history as he became the first to simultaneously hold two titles in two weight classes.
McGregor was stripped of his featherweight title due to inactivity in the league, and his cockiness did get the better of him – his high profile transition to boxing ended with a loss by TKO in the tenth round, courtesy of Floyd Mayweather. Again, due to inactivity, McGregor was stripped of his lightweight title, and his return to the octagon in 2018 saw him lose to his successor, Khabib Nurmagomedov.
His final win came in January 2020, with a win in the welterweight division against Donald Cerrone. This made McGregor the first fighter to have had knockout wins in the featherweight, lightweight and welterweight divisions.
Shortly after the match, he announced his retirement, but he returned in 2021 for his much-anticipated rematch with Dustin Poirier. Prior to this match, fans saw a different side to McGregor, with less confrontation towards his opponent than we’ve become accustomed to.
But as he re-enters the Octagon as an underdog, the former world champion is back in competitive mode. The bad blood between the pair has already started to resurface in a series of controversial pre-match interviews, with Poirier accusing McGregor of falling back on his promise of donating $500,000 to charity.
What to expect from the fight
The trilogy fight is the headline event for UFC 264, as 20,000 fans will be welcomed back to the T Mobile Arena in Las Vegas for the biggest MMA event of the year. In the January fight in Abu Dhabi, McGregor lost to “The Diamond” in an upset, struggling to match the fierce leg kicks and punches coming his way.
The pair have since had several heated exchanges on Twitter – up to and including sending each other GIFS of the moments they have previously knocked each other out. Nobody is quite sure which direction the July fight will go in, with all odds suggesting equal chances of victory, but McGregor has previously proven that when he does lose, all hell breaks loose when he puts himself forward for a rematch
Whatever happens, it is bound to be a night to remember.