After another year on the sidelines, former UFC featherweight and lightweight champion Conor McGregor will finally make his long-awaited return to action in the main event of January 23’s UFC 257, as he’s set to take on Dustin “The Diamond” Poirier in a highly anticipated rematch.
During his meteoric rise, “The Notorious” was known for fighting quite often, but in recent years, as he has gained success, money, and fame, he hasn’t been all that active.
Prior to the beginning of 2020, however, he discussed his interest in competing multiple times throughout the year and he started on a high note by finishing Donald Cerrone in just 40 seconds last January at UFC 246. He hasn’t competed since that victory though due to the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.
But despite another lengthy layoff for the 32-year-old Irishman, his team appears to believe that he’s in top shape, specifically his longtime striking coach Owen Roddy who recently spoke on the former two-division champion.
“A killer,” Roddy told “The Bash MMA” podcast when speaking on McGregor. “Honest to God just a stone-cold killer. Coming off the Cerrone camp, he was in great form, he was motivated, he was in a good place, and then he wanted to go on this run throughout the year, and then COVID messed it all up for everybody, but he didn’t stop training.
“He hasn’t stopped. He’s been very active, working all areas of mixed martial arts, and you can see that now. He’s in the best shape I’ve ever seen him in my entire life. The doc and Collin have just been working tirelessly and Tristan Kennedy with the nutrition, (McGregor) is just like a very finely tuned machine, and you could see it.”
Given that McGregor and Poirier, who has won five of his last six bouts, have long sat near the top of the 155-pound division, this bout is naturally an exciting one, but the two also have a bit of history, as they squared off back in 2014 at UFC 178 in a bout in which McGregor won via first-round TKO.
It’s obviously been quite some time since that first fight and both men have evolved both physically and mentally. Ultimately, neither man is the same fighter, which is what makes the matchup interesting.
Roddy, however, still has a hard time seeing where “The Diamond” gives Conor McGregor any issues.
“I think Poirier has improved an awful lot since that first fight,” Roddy said. “I think Conor has improved more since then, as well. They’re definitely two better fighters than they were when they first met, but I still think Conor is just the better fighter. I think he’s too precise. Poirier’s skills have definitely improved. His hands are very good. He’s tough, he’s durable, he sets a good pace, but I just don’t see where he beats Conor. Conor’s just too good everywhere, too precise and too clinical with his striking.”
Long Island-based sports writer covering MMA, Boxing, and the New York Jets.