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Conor McGregor will finish Dustin Poirier off early, predicts former fighter Mark Weir

Mark Weir believes Conor McGregor is “hungry and motivated” for his big fight against Dustin Poirier at Etihad Stadium in Abu Dhabi on Saturday night, saying: “McGregor has this goal and that is to fight¬†Khabib Nurmagomedov again”

By Raz Mirza

Conor McGregor is “the king”, “the cream of the crop” and on “another level” according to Mark Weir, who is backing the money man to defeat Dustin Poirier in their highly-anticipated rematch on Saturday night.

McGregor (22-4-0) is back – and facing his toughest MMA competition in quite some time.

The former UFC lightweight and featherweight champion, who was last seen in the Octagon just over a year ago running over a past-his-prime Donald Cerrone in less than a minute, meets Poirier (26-6-0) in the lightweight main event of UFC 257 on Saturday night at Etihad Stadium in Abu Dhabi.

It is a rematch of a September 2014 featherweight fight won by knockout in under two minutes by the Irishman.

“McGregor has knocked out everybody fast,” former MMA star Weir told Sky Sports’ Ed Draper. “He’s so powerful, but everybody knows that if he [Poirier] can keep it going to the longer rounds, break his rhythm down because he came out last time with a very good back-kick, he was throwing a lot of long-range kicks.

“Last time they didn’t really fight. I think this time it might be really good because they are both southpaw fighters.

“The low kick will be good if he can kick the legs out, kick and move and keep the distance so he can’t counter as well, but I know McGregor is good at catching the leg so he can throw his overhand.

“When you look at the fight this time, I think it will be longer, but I think McGregor will want to take him out in the first or second round. If it goes beyond that then I think it’s going to change.”

Weir continued: “McGregor is always creative, he’s always trying things and the thing I like about him is that you don’t know what to expect.

“You know that he’s a very good counter-fighter, but he’s very clever on the ground, he’s very good at grappling as well. He’s definitely 100 per cent a well-rounded martial artist and he holds his own with everybody.

“Even his losses have been against the best of the best. I expect a lot more kicks at the early stage and then he will be looking to Poirier to come forward so he can counter him.”

With few fans in attendance, Weir feels McGregor will be at a slight disadvantage as he tends to feed off his massive travelling support.

“McGregor feeds off the fans, the lights, the attention,” admits Weir. “The more crowd there is, the better. He’s best under pressure.

“He’s got pressure, regardless. His name carries pressure which he enjoys. Whether his opponent can handle the pressure, I’m not sure! No one seems to be able to cope with the pressure coming from the fans, the media, and then McGregor himself.”

Poirier is 10-2 since the loss to McGregor, claiming an interim lightweight belt over featherweight champ Max Holloway along the way.

While Poirier lost a title unifier to Khabib Nurmagomedov in September 2019, he rebounded with a unanimous decision over Dan Hooker last June in a thrilling brawl, showing he is still in peak form.

“Poirier has to keep it a long fight and keep the pace going non-stop because if he allows McGregor to get momentum on him, McGregor is a very strong, a fast fighter and I think that his strength shows in the opening couple of rounds. Round three of four I think it might even out a bit more,” said Weir.

“Poirier has got to put in his head it’s going to be a later finish. He hasn’t got that one punch knockout. He breaks people down. He’s improved a hell of a lot, but is it enough to beat McGregor?

“McGregor is on another level. The only thing in his favour is that McGregor has been off and resting.

“McGregor is the king regardless. He’s the money man, like Floyd Mayweather. He’s going to put the pressure on early.

“McGregor has this goal and that is to fight Khabib Nurmagomedov again, regardless. He’s hungry and motivated.”

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