Once Conor McGregor saw Thiago Alves in Dustin Poirier’s corner last weekend, the Irishman had a fair idea of what to expect.
The calf kicks of Dustin Poirier proved to be the story of the UFC 257 main event as ‘The Diamond’ weathered an early Conor McGregor storm and repeatedly chopped away at the lead leg of his opponent before the finish ultimately presented itself midway through the second round.
McGregor, who required crutches to carry him to the post-fight press conference, admitted that he’d never experienced the pain of the calf kicks that were utilised so precisely by Poirier throughout the lightweight contest.
Dustin Poirier got it done!
The Diamond levelled the rivalry in spectacular fashion at #UFC257 💎
Conor McGregor loses by KO for the first time in his career! pic.twitter.com/5CWFIVlUUn
— UFC on BT Sport (@btsportufc) January 27, 2021
McGregor also acknowledged the mid-fight shout from Poirier’s cornerman Thiago Alves, who spotted the damage caused by one of the early kicks.
McGregor revealed: “One of them sunk in early and Thiago said, ‘That was a good one’. And I was in my head, thinking, ‘You bastard, that was a good one’. And then it started accumulating up.”
The rematch win moved Poirier up to first place in the UFC lightweight rankings, just behind champion Khabib Nurmagomedov who looks increasingly likely to vacate the belt after holding firm on his retirement announcement.
McGregor’s head coach, John Kavanagh, has made the case for a rubber match between ‘The Notorious’ and Poirier with the 155lbs title on the line and Kavanagh has vowed to address the technical issues identified at UFC 257.
Those @DustinPoirier leg kicks were no joke!
— UFC on BT Sport (@btsportufc) January 24, 2021
As for Poirier’s coaching team, they are likely still celebrating the perfect implementation of the wise gameplan last Saturday night.
“That kick is very effective against anyone,” Alves told MMA Fighting. “No matter who you are, when those kicks start to land hard, you can’t move well and you have no strength in your punches because you have no base.
— Thiago “Pitbull” Alves 🇧🇷🇺🇸 (@ThiagoAlvesATT) November 28, 2020
“The way Conor McGregor fights, his stance is a bit of karate and taekwondo… He has wonderful boxing, but his legs are wide open, his knee is a bit inside, so Mike Brown, Dyah [Davis] and I noticed that the calf kicks would be a very effective weapon in this fight.”
Alves, a former UFC welterweight challenger, made a career out of chopping opponents’ legs out from under them.
McGregor will have to be cleared by an X-ray on his tibia/fibula or else face a six-month medical suspension although he is confident that there is no damage to the bone.
Alves is expecting the Irishman to be dealing with the pain from Poirier’s kicks for as long as two weeks, however.
“If you’ve never been kicked in the calf in a fight, man, it sucks,” Alves said. “It debilitates you, and [the pain] won’t leave for a week or two. You have no strength if you can’t use your legs, and we knew it would be one of the strategies against Conor McGregor.”