Dustin ‘The Diamond’ Poirier is in the unenviable position of being the punchline of every sharp crack of Conor McGregor’s tongue in the lead up to their September 27 bout.
Despite an unprecedented brawl between the former headliners of UFC 178, Jon ‘Bones’ Jones and Daniel Cormier, most of the talk from Irish fans has been unsurprisingly based around the their countryman’s verbal assault on Poirier during the media tour for the MGM Grand event.
McGregor claimed that “a gust of wind” could force Poirier to do “the chicken dance”, that the American had been “wobbled” in his last few outings and he also labelled him a “hillbilly”. Poirier, who insisted he had never faced an opponent with a similar approach, explained his thoughts on watching McGregor in full flight on the media tour.
“It’s been kind of funny to hear the guy talk and try to insult me like that,” he said. “It’s definitely a first for me in my career, I’ve never experienced anything like that. I think he believes the trash he’s talking, he thinks he can actually do the things he says he will.”
The Irishman wasted no time in predicting that Poirier would be the next of his victims to succumb to his power in the striking department within the first five minutes of their bout. Poirier believes McGregor’s forecast can only mean that he is underestimating the challenge ahead of him.
“By saying he’s going to knock me out in the first round shows how lightly he’s taking me. He should be preparing for 15 minutes of hard fighting, that’s what I’m prepared for.
“I’m going to have to show him on September 27 how wrong he is about me. He has people all around him telling him he’s this and that, I think it may have just gone to his head. I’ve got to give him a reality check,” he said.
Citing the Irish featherweight’s combative stance, Poirier spoke of openings he thinks McGregor leaves to his body and of the SBG man’s ground game when considering his biggest weaknesses.
He said: “His body is open a lot the way he stands with his hands up, he leaves it open a lot. A lot of his punches are looping, but that being said he is a good athlete. He’s got good hand speed, he’s a great counter puncher but he makes guys fight his fight.
“I’ve seen it in every one of his performances, guys fighting his fight, and I’m not going to do that. I’m going to be in his face touching him up, he’s never fought anyone like me.
“If the fight goes to the ground I feel I’ll have an advantage, but I’m not going to go out of my way and put myself in a bad position trying to get him down there. If he makes a mistake and leaves himself open – say he lunges forward – I’m going to take his back.
“It’s not really my game plan though so you won’t see me shooting for doubles and singles when we’re in there. I’m going to go in there and just let the fight unfold naturally.”
Although the ATT man did point out McGregor’s athletic gifts, he maintains that the Dubliner’s mouth is one of his greatest assets and without it Poirier is adamant that his UFC 178 counterpart would not have climbed the 145lbs division as quickly as he has.
“His marketing power has allowed him to climb the rankings quicker and it’s helped him get a match-up against me. His mouth has taken him far. I don’t remember anyone else headlining a UFC card for their third fight and now he could be fighting in the co-main event of a huge pay-per-view for his fourth.
“His mouth has definitely helped him out but he speaks well, he’s interesting and attractive to people. I’ll give him that, he does it very well,” he conceded.
Despite believing that McGregor has talked himself into this fight, the American claimed that if successful on September 27, the victory would be the biggest of his career to date:
“Beating Conor would be one of my biggest wins, it will propel my career to the next level and give me a lot more popularity because there is going to be a lot of eyes on us for this one. A lot of people are really high on Conor right now so it will be awesome to go out there and prove them wrong.”
Poirier also highlighted his belief that a title shot might be too optimistic when considering where McGregor will settle in the featherweight rankings.
“I’m going to beat him and if he fights another guy around the same calibre as me he’s going to lose again. UFC are probably going to give him a couple of fights that he’s the favourite in and that will help him grow and get better.
“He will be around, he’s not going anywhere but I don’t think he will ever be mentioned along with the guys at the top of this weight division,” he said.
Finally, the fifth ranked UFC featherweight gave his prediction his upcoming bout with ‘The Notorious’.
“I really don’t know what’s going to happen, we’re going to have to wait and see. I truly feel like I could knock him out or submit him and if it goes the distance I think I would win the decision. If I was pushed for a prediction I’d go with TKO, I think I’m going to knock him out.”