McGregor admits shout from Dustin Poirier's corner got inside his head
"In my head, I was thinking, you bastard, that was a good one."
Thiago Alves was loving the view from Dustin Poirier's corner, at UFC 257.
Back in 2009, Alves was riding high in the UFC and went into a welterweight title bout against Georges St-Pierre at 17-5 but on a seven-fight winning streak. 'Rush' defeated him on points and that turned out to be as close as he would get to UFC gold.
The Brazilian, known as Pitbull, would fight on until 2019 but he finished up with a somewhat middling 23-15 pro record. By the time he lost to Tim Means in his final trip to The Octagon, however, he was already making strides as a striking coach at America Top Team (ATT).
Since he began working with Dustin Poirier, the Louisiana native has come on leaps and bounds. His striking accounted for wins over Eddie Alvarez and Justin Gaethje and he pieced Max Holloway up to win the interim lightweight belt before running into the unstoppable Khabib Nurmagomedov.
For all his improvements, though, few gave Poirier a chance against the returning McGregor at UFC 257. Having lost in the first round against the Dubliner in 2014, 'The Diamond' vowed he was a much better fighter than he was back at UFC 178.
McGregor paid credit to Poirier for taking the hard road back, but was still predicting another first round win. In the Etihad Stadium, with a socially distanced crowd of 2,000 present, Poirier ripped up the script and did so with take-down attempts and leg kicks.
Poirier unloaded low kicks to McGregor's shins and calves that had 'The Notorious' hobbled by the mid-point of the second round. Following his TKO loss to the American, McGregor remarked that his injured leg was 'the size of a football under my suit'.
McGregor conceded that his leg was "compromised" by the second round and he spoke about how shouts from Alves, in Poirier's corner, got into his head.
"The kicks accumulated, for sure. I knew when I saw he had Thiago Alves in his corner. I thought, 'These' ... I knew what was coming.
"I knew he was going to try the low kicks. He's also experienced taking those low kicks himself, before. So that's my first time to experience it. 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 kicks left McGregor stunted for movement and it was no surprise to hear him tell Poirier, after the fight had been stopped, that his leg was "dead".
After proceedings wrapped, McGregor was seen leaving the arena on crutches.
— SportsJOE (@SportsJOEdotie) January 24, 2021
Back to the mat for McGregor to work on how to defend such kicks or turn defence into attack. As his coach, John Kavanagh says, 'Win or learn'.
As for Poirier, Alves & Co. it was time to celebrate:
Looking forward to the rematch already.