UFC 257 or…how I learned to stop worrying and love the leg kick

Bonus Points if you catch that reference! 

Dustin Poirier vs Conor McGregor 2

Let me start by asking one question – why on earth has nobody ever tried to leg kick Conor McGregor before this fight? In all seriousness, this was a perfect game plan by Dustin Poirier who in 2 rounds managed to finish arguably the best 2 round fighter in the sport. I said in my prediction article that Poirier had a big chance to win this fight but I never expected him to win like this. First off, he did the smartest thing possible and targeted the lead leg of Conor, a major vulnerability that nobody has ever exploited. Most importantly Poirier knew not to trade and go straight to the grappling, to be clear he lost the first round but winning it wasn’t the objective he was clearly trying to drain Conor and take the power from his shots. Also, Conor did manage to catch Poirier clean which proves once and for all that 155 Poirier has a much better chin and his defense did enough to avoid any follow up shots. The second round saw Poirier stick to the leg kicks and boxing, Conor had no answer for these kicks which quickly set up the finishing sequence in which Poirier went all in using amazing combinations. While the leg kicks were the catalyst, the way Poirier swarmed Conor again showed that Conor does not like to be pressured and when being punched against the cage he struggles massively. Poirier managed to hold back anything that would give Conor a good shot notice; he only used his usual switch stance entry maybe once or twice and was much more cautious than usual. If anything this fight at least proved Poirier is the more well-rounded fighter of the two. 

This feels like a full circle moment in the career of Dustin Poirier, finally avenging his career defining loss in the best way possible. If Khabib is truly retired, it seems appropriate that Dustin is now the man in the division, due to the pure amount of hard work he has put into reaching the top. In this fight, many were writing Dustin off as a gimme fight for Conor even UFC president Dana White was already trying to make plans for a Khabib vs Conor rematch. Everything was stacked against Dustin which is the place he has been in for most if not all of his career. Well now hopefully people will recognize his greatness as I have believed for a while that Dustin Poirier is not only the most exciting fighter in the UFC but arguably has the best overall resume in the lightweight division. If Khabib remains in retirement then I have no doubt that Dustin Poirier is the next Lightweight champion.

Dan Hooker vs Michael Chandler

I did not see this coming at all. I believed Chandler had a shot at winning, especially if he was to effectively use the wrestling but at the same time I believed Dan Hooker was an incredibly difficult match up for Chandler. Chandler made the best UFC debut he possibly could by finishing Hooker in the first round. The set up to this finish was fantastic. Chandler was throwing constant body shots and putting in a lot of power, all of which was set up for Chandler to land that big power shot. Chandler managed to out think the kickboxer who comes from a gym known for being great thinking strikers. It seemed like Hooker was attempting to replicate his fight against Al Iaquinta by staying on the back foot and throwing mostly jabs and calf kicks. The calf kicks were actually working very well for Hooker but it was clear the power of Chandler was an issue and it’s very possible that all the constant back and forth wars are finally starting to take a toll on the chin of Dan Hooker. Regardless, Chandler has immediately put himself in possible title contention and put to bed any doubts about whether or not he belongs in the UFC and it’s exciting to have some new blood in the division.

Overall it was a great night for the underdogs and it truly feels like we are seeing a new path In the Lightweight division. In a division this great that can only be viewed as an exciting thing, so it will be interesting to see who is matched up next and what will happen with the lightweight championship. 

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