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About a year ago at this time, a rejuvenated Conor
McGregor
had big plans in store following a quick finish of
Donald
Cerrone
at UFC 246.

An active 2020 calendar didn’t come to fruition for the Irish star,
however, and it was a much more somber atmosphere following his
first appearance since then, a second-round technical knockout loss
to Dustin
Poirier
in the UFC 257 headliner at Etihad Arena in Abu Dhabi
on Saturday night. A victory could have opened the door for
numerous possibilities for the biggest star in the sport. Instead,
McGregor must figure out how to rebound from perhaps the most
damaging loss of his career to date.

“It’s the whole shebang, but I have no excuses here. It was a
phenomenal performance by Dustin. I don’t know what to say,”
McGregor said at the post-fight press conference. “I’m going to go
back. I’m going to chill out. I’ll watch the full fight and get a
better grasp on it. The leg was compromised. I was rushing the
shots a little bit, and I didn’t adjust. That’s that. It’s a bitter
pill to swallow. I don’t even know if I’m that upset. I don’t know
what to say.”

The showing was a stark contrast to McGregor’s first meeting with
Poirier at UFC 178, where he got into his opponent’s head before
the fight and finished him off in less than two minutes in
September 2014. A much-improved Poirier took center stage on
Saturday, as he landed an early takedown, battered McGregor’s leg
with calf kicks and swarmed on his compromised foe with punches for
the stoppage at the 2:32 mark of Round 2.

“My leg is completely dead,” McGregor admitted. “Even though I felt
like I was checking them, it was just sinking into the muscle in
the front of the leg, and it was badly compromised. It was like an
American football in my suit at the minute, so it is what it
is.”

McGregor remains the most recognizable figure in the sport, and as
long as he’s willing to keep accepting fights, there should still
be plenty of opportunities for the SBG Ireland standout. The former
two-division champion vowed to bounce back in the aftermath of his
latest setback.

“I’ll certainly regroup,” McGregor said. “I’ll regroup. I’ll pick
myself off the floor and go again. That’s it. Styles make fights.
There’s many great stylistic fights out there. Myself and Dustin
are one-and-one. Myself and Nate [Diaz] are one-and-one. There are
many good matchups for me. I’ll adopt a different approach for the
trilogy. … I have a lot more weapons I didn’t get to show. It
wasn’t my night. It wasn’t a great night. Again, no excuses. Hats
off. [I’ll] regroup and pick myself up.”

Early Sunday, McGregor released a statement on Instagram expressing
similar sentiments. Once again, a trilogy with Poirier seemed to be
at the forefront his thoughts.

“Thanks for the support everyone! Was not my night/morning in there
but a great contest to improve on. I’m excited at the blockbuster
trilogy I now have on my hands,” McGregor wrote. “Dustin is a hell
of a competitor and I look forward to going again. Elevating the
leg and the spirit on my way home! God bless us all, happy
Sunday.”

With his future prospects uncertain, McGregor nonetheless seems to
be relatively upbeat. That could bode well regarding a relatively
quick Octagon return.

“I got to come out here and do this fight here in the Middle East,
put on a show for the people,” McGregor said. “I’ve done my best.
Things don’t go your way at times. Well, pick yourself up and carry
on. I’ve got a lot of good things going on in my life, so I just
keep my head high. That’s it. Take the shots, take the licks, and
just keep on going.”


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