John Kavanagh explains major struggle for Dustin Poirier ahead of Conor McGregor rematch

The countdown is on for Conor McGregor vs. Dustin Poirier II.

Conor McGregor will make his return to the Octagon on January 23, when he will rematch Dustin Poirier in the main event of UFC 257.

There will be a much different atmosphere in Abu Dhabi’s Flash Forum next month than there was when McGregor knocked Poirier out six years ago.

A packed-out crowd with a considerable Irish contingent watched ‘The Notorious’ stop Poirier in the first round of their featherweight clash at UFC 178 but there will likely be no fans present on January 23 due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

McGregor is betting favourite to make it 2-0 against ‘The Diamond’ and the Irishman’s head coach John Kavanagh believes that the physical impact of Poirier’s devastating defeat in 2014 will play a role in the rematch.

“He’s fighting a different animal than any of [his previous opponents],” Kavanagh told The Mac Life. “Somebody with true one punch knockout power that he’s already felt. I think you could spend a lifetime going to sports psychologists and talking to this person and that person — that’s not going to have been erased from his mind. He knows he’s facing somebody who can shut off his lights very, very rapidly and now is a lot more powerful and a lot more experienced than he was even then.

“It’s a tough uphill battle for Dustin, but Dustin’s a phenomenal fighter, a great fighter and I know him and Conor, they’ve got certain agreements on charity things outside which is great. I think that’s what professional sports should be about anyway. But yeah, I’m really looking forward to this one.”

McGregor’s plans to compete multiple times in 2020 were scuppered by the coronavirus pandemic, with his last outing coming in January, when McGregor knocked out Donald Cerrone in just 40 seconds.

Poirier last competed in June, when he dominated Dan Hooker over five rounds to bounce back from his defeat to the now-retired Khabib Nurmagomedov.

McGregor vs. Poirier II will take place at 155lbs and Kavanagh is intrigued to see how the additional mass on both men will play out in the Octagon.

“There’s nothing to be said when you’ve really badly hurt someone like that so fast,” said Kavanagh. “It’s not like it was a decision win or some sort of argument to be made or it was a bit back and forth and Conor got a shot off, it was a bad night for Dustin.

“It was very one-sided and when you look at some of the shots he’s absorbed — now he’s a bigger man now, and there’s maybe some argument he can absorb more shots now but he’s fighting a bigger man as well. If you remember back to the fight, the opening hook kick just whistled by his head.. a couple of inches lower that might even have outdone the [Jose] Aldo fight.

“Look they’ve both matured physically, age-wise they’re in the thirties now with families, Dustin’s had a couple more contests than Conor has in the Octagon, but Conor’s never stopped training and has obviously had a boxing match and done other stuff. It’s interesting to see how the styles meet up this time.”

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