Conor McGregor vs Dustin Poirier insight and breakdown from ex-opponents, trainers and fighters ahead of UFC 257 rematch

CONOR McGREGOR and Dustin Poirier will renew their rivalry on Fight Island – but do so under vastly different circumstances than before.

McGregor knocked Poirier out in under two minutes of their featherweight fight in 2014.

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Since then, the 32-year-old pair have enjoyed differing career trajectories – but encountered familiar faces.

Here, SunSport talks to those with a personal insight on the two men, who headline UFC 257 on Saturday.

Joe Duffy, the first man to ever beat McGregor, is one of those to have fought both, – he also lost to Poirier in 2016.

Admittedly, he submitted the UFC's future megastar while they were both upstarts, in a now-famous 2010 Cage Warriors fight.

But, with experience and a special knowledge of each, he expects McGregor to get the job done again, albeit it in different fashion.

Duffy, 32, said: "I think Conor again. 

"I don't think it will be as quick, but I do think it will be in the first or second round, he's going to clip him."

On the other side of the octagon, Henri Hooft trained Eddie Alvarez, who faced but lost to McGregor and Poirier.

And while Hooft stops short of predicting a winner, he warned to expect a completely different fight from the first McGregor-Poirier battle.

He said: "I think Conor is a little bit more precise and explosive, but Dustin's last couple of fights he's showed a lot of maturity, he weathers the storm.

"I won't make a prediction, but it will be a great fight.

"Conor has a little bit of the timing, the eyes, the timing but Dustin has great skills, he can take it to the floor and submit you too.

"So, I will be just a fan seeing these two fight." 

Hooft will have a keen interest in the main-event in Abu Dhabi, but admits he will likely miss it as he corners Michael Chandler beforehand.

Chandler, 34, fights Dan Hooker, 30, in the co-headliner, his first in the UFC.

Hooker comes into it off the back of a narrow points loss against Poirier, which followed after a five-round thriller.

The New Zealander felt the force of Poirier's lightweight frame, which is a stark contrast to the depleted featherweight McGregor wiped out.

And he feels the rematch at 155lb suits his old opponent better, but admitted with Khabib Nurmagomedov retired, McGregor is the division's current No1.

Hooker said: "I feel it will be much different from the first fight.

"I feel like Poirier has far more durability at 55, I don't think McGregor will be able to stop him that quick.

"In my opinion, with Khabib stepping away, McGregor is the most skilled lightweight that there is out there.

"Strip away everything, the mystique around McGregor, strip around all the antics that come with it, he is the most skilful lightweight that there is, in my opinion.

"I think it's going to be a pretty close fight but I don't think it will be over as quick as the first one."

Poirier struggled with McGregor's mental warfare in their first fight, and as a result was unable to deal with the pressure under the bright lights.

Duffy points to Khabib and Nate Diaz – the only two to beat The Notorious in the UFC – as a possible inspiration for Poirier.

They held their nerve early with McGregor, who will put a big emphasis on starting quick in the opening five minutes.

Duffy explained: "I think the main mental battle he's got is staying calm in the first round.

"I feel like he needs to look at Khabib, who did a great job in not letting McGregor touch him and find his range.

"Conor seems to doubt himself a little bit when he starts missing too, or when they start to take the shots.

"Then he doesn't stay as calm. I really feel the first round is important.

"If Dustin gets stung – look at Nate Diaz – he was so used to the boxing sparring when he got stung he didn't change his game, he didn't panic.

"He just carried on with his game and I think that's what Dustin will do."

Hooft has also urged Poirier – who was beaten by Khabib in 2019 – to replicate how the Russian blended grappling and striking to defeat McGregor.

As the experienced Dutch coach admitted simply looking to KO the Irishman is not good enough.

Hooft said: "Conor McGregor, I must say he's a special guy.

"I think he's a once-in-a-lifetime athlete. He's something special so to beat him you need to be special, like Khabib, he's very special.

"You can't just go for a knockout first. He either needs to get tired or very comfortable to make mistakes.

"Because, if he's on point it's not easy to knock him out, you really need to mix it up and you saw Khabib doing that, and also hitting him with a good right hand."

When the first bell rings, Poirier will be confronted with the memory of being put away last time he fought McGregor.

But, Duffy argues that can inspire the American to pull off the upset – and believes the roles have been reversed in terms of expectation this time.

He said: "I'm sure for Dustin, after losing to someone it has it place, but it depends on his mentally and how he's going in there and looking at it.

"It can have an affect but it can also inspire you. From the things I've seen it looks like he has the pressure of his back now.

"Before, he was more of a favourite and expected to stop the hype train but this time the roles have been reversed.

"I think he's carrying less pressure, I think Conor's more the favourite."

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