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14th May 2017

Conor McGregor’s reaction to UFC 211’s biggest controversy really sums up his character

McGregor knocked both fighters out

Ben Kiely

Imagine watching one of the best movies ever and right at the halfway point, the cinema lights go up and it just stops playing.

That’s kind of like what happened in the ‘I can’t believe it’s not main card’ fight on UFC 211 between former UFC champion Eddie Alvarez and Dustin Poirier.

The lightweight contest headlined the preliminary card and from the very early exchanges, there was a sense that it was going to live up to the hype.

Alvarez seemed uncharacteristically stiff and tentative in the first stanza, but things really started to heat up in the second. It was Poirier who started off stronger, rocking ‘the Underground King’ with stinging punches before moving in for the kill with a flurry.

However, Alvarez isn’t out until he’s out. As anyone who’s seen more than one fight featuring the elite brawler has come to expect, once adversity hit him, he embraced it.

Alvarez stepped straight into the fire, bit down on his mouthpiece and began firing back. Two right hands clipped his opponent and allowed him move his back off the cage. With their roles now reversed, he began letting his hands go, tagging and hurting Poirier as he began swinging for the fences, not paying too much heed to defence.

MMA fans love a comeback. The crowd inside the American Airlines Center began chanting ‘Eddie! Eddie! Eddie!’ as the former champ dug deep, lighting up the Diamond’s body with vicious haymakers. Regardless of who was emerging from this one with their hand raised, it seemed destined to be a future classic, a fight that both warriors would look back on as one of their finest moments.

Then, it was all over in one of the most unsatisfactory ways imaginable.

Alvarez scored a takedown against the fence and went for a choke. His grip was not tight enough, so he began going to work with knees to the dome. Several of these were illegal as both Poirier’s hand and knee were on the mat when they landed. He slumped to the mat face-first as the last one landed with venom.

Herb Dean stepped in and was forced to end the fight once Poirier said that his vision had become blurry. He concluded that Alvarez, who’s eye had become pretty swollen, couldn’t see the hand placement of his opponent and therefore didn’t know he was committing a foul. The final result read ‘No Contest’.

It was a bizarre way to end proceedings, so it seemed fitting that the Octagon interview was also strange. Joe Rogan had both competitors either side of him and allowed Alvarez to explain himself first.

“Look guys, I’m not a dirty fighter. We’re fist-fighting in here. I’m doing the best I can. I apologise to Dustin and I apologise to the…”

The crowd weren’t exactly thrilled with Alvarez’s excuses and a chorus of boos was building up inside the Arena. Poirier grabbed hold of the mic to put a stop that though.

“Hey! Don’t boo this man! This guy’s a champion. This guy’s fought all over the world. I’ve got nothing but respect for this guy. Don’t boo this man! This guy’s a warrior!”

“We both put it on the line every time we step in here. This is unfortunate, Eddie didn’t mean to do that, but like he said, this is a fist-fight. We’re fighting.”

McGregor, who has knocked out both fighters in prior meetings, was watching the fight.

The man who proclaimed that respect was earned through battle, lived up to those words with his response to what he saw inside the Octagon.

It was a war, a massively entertaining war and both of them deserve kudos for their performances, even though the result was disappointing.