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UFC 264: Trilogy of Two Titans; Poirier Vs. McGregor 3 Defines Legacies

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MMA fighters love to test the limits of immortality in the cage, even at the risk of their legacy. It is a fool’s dream, but that’s the pride of being a human. Our ultimate flaw will be to chase the impossible.

Conor McGregor was the king, even primed to be the king of the promotion he fought for, but every man falls from grace. They say you can never recapture the grace you once had. For grace is said to be a gift granted from God, and once lost, it can never be recovered.

A humble man with a will as sharp as a diamond, Dustin Poirier stripped the immortality of McGregor when he knocked him out in the second round of the UFC 257 main event. Now, the notoriously stubborn Irishman looks to claim revenge and the final blood in the anticipated UFC 264 trilogy matchup.

ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES – JANUARY 23: (L-R) Conor McGregor of Ireland punches Dustin Poirier in a lightweight fight during the UFC 257 event inside Etihad Arena on UFC Fight Island on January 23, 2021, in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)

The Leadup to the Trilogy at UFC 264

McGregor was near untouchable in his initial UFC run from 2013 to 2016, in which he ousted Brazilian legends and American warriors to create the “Immortal Irishman” persona. Walking around the octagon in his infamous “Billi-Strut,” McGregor was a man with legacy and riches. He was praised like a god for growing from humble beginnings to reaching indescribable heights with a platform that had limited potential at best.

After failing to make a mortal of Floyd “Money” Mayweather, McGregor took his humble defeat along with a 100 million dollar purse. Henry Cavill once said, “Comfort is a drug. It’s addictive. Give a weak man regular sex, good food, cheap entertainment, and he’ll throw his ambitions right out the window. The comfort zone is where dreams go to die.”

McGregor had shown true weakness against Mayweather, with no excuses for opponent changes or short prep time. Instead, he took comfort with the largest payday of his life, a cool $100 million for accepting defeat to boxing’s finest ever to grace the squared circle. Unfortunately, the comfort made him lose the discipline he had as a martial artist, killing his drive to defeat the obstacles in front of him.

He lost himself somewhere along the way of fighting Khabib. With his nemesis now gone, he looked to reclaim the empty throne he once sat on and ruled the lightweight division with. From the backwoods of Louisiana, a Diamond with years of pressure from wars with the best fighters in the world showed McGregor the error of his ways. Rumor was McGregor looked to use the Poirier fight as a tune-up fight to prep for Manny Pacquiao in boxing.

McGregor had seemed to shed his old karate stance in UFC 257, favoring a heavy boxing lead-foot stance instead. He didn’t know it, but the MMA landscape had progressed without him. Just as how COVID-19 shockingly devastated the world in a short amount of time, the new ever-so deadly calf kicks spelled impending doom to anyone not aware of its lethal effect. Poirier showcased how the prime sport of MMA outclassed the prehistoric boxing style of McGregor.

ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES – JANUARY 23: Dustin Poirier reacts after his knockout victory over Conor McGregor of Ireland in a lightweight fight during the UFC 257 event inside Etihad Arena on UFC Fight Island on January 23, 2021, in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)

UFC 264 Defines McGregor’s and Poirier’s Legacies

Poirier showed that an MMA fight is never the same twice. McGregor gave it his best, with the game plan he had. Unfortunately for McGregor, the difference showed. They say the more the pressure, the better the diamond. With that being said, Poirier’s fights with Pettis, Alvarez, Holloway, Hooker, and even his loss to Khabib Nurmagomedov made him better.

He had accumulated about 1 hour and 45 minutes of octagon time and experience. Compared to McGregor’s mere 46 seconds in that time span, Poirier now had the experience to flip the table and deal McGregor the payback he righteously earned.

This UFC 264 trilogy will close the chapter of yesteryear. So many stars have come and gone, and now McGregor has reached that moment in his career. Has MMA moved on without him? Or does he have what it takes to lead the new age of the UFC and topple another Brazilian for his crown? Poirier himself has questions that will be answered after UFC 264, and they too will shape out how his legacy holds up.

ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES – JANUARY 23: (L-R) Dustin Poirier greets Conor McGregor of Ireland after his victory in their lightweight fight during the UFC 257 event inside Etihad Arena on UFC Fight Island on January 23, 2021, in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)

Poirier passed on an undisputed UFC lightweight title fight for a McGregor payday. An eerie echo of how McGregor passed on defending his title; instead choosing to pursue a money fight with the undefeated Mayweather in a boxing ring. Did Poirier pass up his only shot at claiming undisputed gold?

Poirier held the fool’s gold and was unsuccessful in uniting his belt with Khabib’s undisputed title at UFC 242. Now Poirier seems to have adopted a prize-fighter mentality. An ominous echo to how McGregor changed himself. Is Poirier worthy enough to humble McGregor twice, or has he grown soft with the comfort that once plagued McGregor?

With UFC 264 a few days away, the fans are biting their nails with anticipation. With the new age of MMA setting its mark on history, will it include the “Notorious” and the “Diamond?” One thing is for sure, in an uncertain world, we were able to see McGregor fight twice in a 6-month span.

UFC 264 fight card starts with the early ESPN+ Prelims matches scheduled to begin at 6 P.M. EST, then the remaining undercard balance on ESPN/ESPN+ at 8 P.M. EST. Finally, the PPV main card start time will be at 10 P.M. EST on ESPN+ PPV.


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