DUBAI: Fight Island 3 ended in stunning fashion during the early hours of Sunday morning with Dustin Poirier’s shock win over crowd favorite Conor McGregor at UFC 257 in Abu Dhabi.
The 32-year-old American, who had lost to McGregor in 2014, finally got his revenge via a TKO at 2:33 of round 2 in front of almost 2000 spectators at Etihad Arena, Yas Island.
The disappointed Irishman has started positively but after the defeat admitted that “you don’t get away with being inactive in this business”.
The night belonged to Poirier.
“I was so nervous before, on the walkout, in the locker room, was so nervous and felt flat, but once I got under those lights, I just came to life,” Poirier said.
“I felt great. I felt in the moment and that’s what I wasn’t in the first time we fought. I wasn’t in the moment. I just didn’t enjoy what was going on. Right now, I just loved being in there and had some fun in there, talking trash. I know he’s a showman, so I’m just having some fun.”
Poirier added that as soon as he was inside the octagon, he felt confident of beating any fighter in the world.
“When I shot the takedown and tripped him up, I was just kind of in awe of how easily he went down, maybe the timing, maybe it was just a good shot,” said Poirier.
“He flashed me a couple of times with that left hand in this fight, but I felt like I started getting his timing. I was pulling back and throwing hooks, pulling back and hitting him with jabs. He started really admiring some of his work and I felt like every round I was going to pull away. It was going to be a bigger gap every round.”
Poirier also said that away from all the pre-fight hype and showmanship, this win was less about beating McGregor and more about providing for his own family and becoming a champion again.
“I don’t know how many fights I have left, but when I walk away, I’d love to be the world champion,” he said.
“I just want to be the champ. I’ve put in all the work. I’ve done everything you can do in this sport except raise that undisputed world title in the air and that’s what I want to do, but we’ll see. I’m not in a rush to fight again. I just want to go home, sell some hot sauce.”
UFC 257 also saw the highly-anticipated debut of Michael Chandler who defeated Dan Hooker via TKO at 2:30 of round 1.
“It was great. I spent 12 years outside of this company thinking about this possibility, thinking about these matchups, thinking about fighting the best guys in the world,” Chandler said. “Now I’m here. I’m going to be ranked inside the top five now, that might knock Conor out of No 4, maybe put me on No. 3 or 4. I have no idea where the rankings are going to go, doesn’t really matter. Anybody can get a title shot as long as they are in the top five, top 10 actually.
“(I’m) just feeling great,” he added. “Pure elation, tons of hard work ever since I was 14 years old, wrestling in Missouri all the way to becoming All-American, fighting outside the UFC and now winning my first fight in the UFC, getting a spectacular knockout.”
Having finally joined UFC, Chandler declared this to be the best fight of his career so far.
“It’s got to be No. 1,” he said. “I’ve had some more spectacular, more awesome, more cool-looking ones, but to do it on this stage, co-main event of this card in Abu Dhabi, debut in the UFC, a week where everybody wants to see something spectacular, something remarkable…you’ve got to put that at No. 1.”
Meanwhile Joanne Calderwood defeated Jessica Eye via unanimous decision in their women’s Flyweight bout.
“I just was in the moment,” the Scottish fighters said. “Everything that we’ve done for the past 10 weeks, it just came out during the fight. I saw everything coming and I was just in the moment. It felt really good.”
Makhmud Muradov defeated Andrew Sanchez via TKO at 2:59 of round 3 of their Middleweight fight, but was unhappy with the manner of the win.
“I’m not that satisfied because I had trouble breathing, probably, I don’t know, a problem with acclimatization, with different climate, but that’s why I’m not so happy,” he said. “Just keep getting the wins and whoever they give me next, I’m going to beat him too. All my fights in UFC were on short notice: the first fight was in 10 days, second and third, 25 days only.”
In the other main card fight, Marina Rodriguez defeated Amanda Ribas via TKO at 0:54 of round 2.
“It’s great to have the people in there and feel the energy for me or against me. It’s just great to have people in there and hopefully next time it’ll be in a full arena,” Rodriguez said. “I came into the UFC to fight the top-ranked fighters and I hope this win is going to get me over there and I’m always going to keep moving up, whatever the cost may be. I always want to fight because my goal has always been to fight for the belt.”
In the prelims, Arman Tsarukyan defeated Matt Frevola via unanimous decision; Brad Tavares overcame Antonio Carlos Junior with another unanimous decision; Julianna Peña defeated Sara McMann via submission at 3:39 of round 3; and Marcin Prachnio beat Khalil Rountree via unanimous decision.
The early prelims had kicked off the night with Amir Albazi defeat of Zhalgas Zhumagulov via unanimous decision, followed by Movsar Evloev’s win over Nik Lentz via split decision.