Stephen Thompson says Conor McGregor needs to make one key adjustment in order to beat Dustin Poirier in their rubber match at UFC 264 on July 10th.
McGregor and Poirier are currently tied at 1-1. ‘The Notorious’ beat ‘The Diamond’ by first-round TKO in their first fight at featherweight in 2014, while the Louisiana native avenged the loss with a second round TKO in their lightweight contest at UFC 257 in January.
The main talking points from the UFC 257 main event were Poirier’s devastating calf kicks, which severely compromised McGregor’s movement and footwork, and the Irishman’s strict boxing stance, as opposed to his usual fleet footed karate stance.
One Key Adjustment
Speaking to Submission Radio (as transcribed by MMA Junkie), Thompson said that McGregor needs to move like a ‘karate guy’ again if he wants to beat Poirier in the UFC 264 main event.
“I think the person that has to do more changing of the fighters is definitely Conor,” Thompson said. “I mean, Dustin Poirier has been fighting pretty much the same way for the longest time. He’s got great boxing, good timing, he’s tough as nails, he likes to sit in the pocket, and he’s intelligent. I think he (Conor) kind of lost something in his last fight. I think it was all the boxing that he was doing. He doesn’t have that movement anymore that you normally saw. Like when he fought Jose Aldo, it was the movement that won him that fight. And he was kind of standing there in front of Dustin Poirier, and he took a lot of low calf kicks, and that’s what settled it, sealed the deal.
“So, he’s got to get back into moving like a karate guy. He’s got to get back into getting on his bike, using that in-and-out movement, switching sides, playing that game if he’s going to go out there and beat him again. Because he can draw out Dustin Poirier’s strikes with his movement. And him being such a good counter puncher, [he] can counter off of that. So out of the two, Conor’s got to get back to that. So, don’t know how hard that is and how long he’s been doing the boxing stuff, but he’s got to get out of that and get back to his movement. If he can do that, Conor can win.”
He Can Do It
With only six months to prepare for Poirier’s offensive, including the calf kicks that McGregor’s coach John Kavanagh said they had never experienced before, many are questioning the former two division champion’s ability to make the necessary adjustments.
However, Thompson believes it wouldn’t be hard for a lifelong martial artist like McGregor to do so.
“For a lifelong martial artist such as Conor McGregor, I think it should be fairly easy for him,” Thompson said. “I think he can get back to that fairly easy. And as long as he’s been doing that directly after the fight. After his last fight, he should have gone back to the gym and started working on it. I mean, he knew then they’re going to have a rematch. He’s won one; Poirier has won one. It’s bound to happen. It’s meant to be, have a third fight. So, hopefully he’s doing that, and hopefully he’s got good coaches to get him back, making him do that movement. So, I don’t think it should be that hard for him.”
Stephen Thompson is also set to fight at UFC 264, where he will face Gilbert Burns in a potential welterweight title eliminator in the co-main event.
Do you think Conor McGregor can make the necessary changes to win the rubber match against Dustin Poirier at UFC 264?