THE mixed martial arts world is still processing the fallout from the UFC's first pay-per-view event of 2021 – as it should be.
To quote Jon Anik, the MMA world was 'turned on its axis' last Sunday by the pride of Lafayette, Louisiana, former interim UFC lightweight champion Dustin Poirier.
After nearly seven years of waiting, Poirier exacted revenge on Conor McGregor in the main event of UFC 257 in Abu Dhabi.
Fan favourite Poirier registered an emphatic second-round TKO victory over his old featherweight rival to level their series at one apiece and further cement his status as the best active lightweight on the planet.
The victory – the biggest of Poirier's career – was seismic, to say the least. But for some reason, he isn't being given his dues by fight fans.
Instead, much of the prevailing narrative from the fight has centred around McGregor's performance, or lack thereof.
I can't count the number of tweets I've seen from viewers of the fight – many of whom likely never watched the UFC's poster boy in action before his 2015 featherweight title unification fight with Jose Aldo – saying he's over the hill and a shadow of himself.
I particularly took umbrage with the use of the phrases 'old' and 'washed up', two things McGregor is not.
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I, luckily, had a better view of the return of the Mac than most from the vantage point of Fight Island.
And what I saw was far from the narrative that's been perpetuated over the last week.
As he so often does, McGregor started fast out of the blocks and took advantage of the split-second openings Poirier left to land his left hand.
And when he was taken down, he did well to back himself up against the fence, wall-walk and land shots in the clinch.
A quote-on-quote 'old' or 'washed up' fighter would be able to do neither of those things, let alone win a round – which he almost punctuated with a spinning wheel kick – against the No.1-ranked lightweight in the world.
The use of those terms, I believe, stems from McGregor's lack of movement and decreased accuracy in the second and ultimately fateful round.
But they were taken away from him by Poirier's stellar and well-thought-out game plan, which was to punish McGregor's lead leg – which he leans very heavily on – with debilitating calf kicks.
To the untrained eye, those kicks – with the exception of the one that saw McGregor roll over on his foot – had a small bearing on the outcome of the fight.
But to those versed in the effects of leg kicks, in particular those to the calves, it was clear that McGregor's movement had been compromised.
And make no mistake about it, it was that decreased ability to move and fully extend his punches that ultimately led to his shots missing their mark.
Additionally, Poirier's counter boxing – in particular his use of rolling and his beautiful check right hook – was also a factor in McGregor's inaccuracy in the second round.
To overlook the American's implementation of a perfect game plan and his counter striking is a massive disservice to his work on that memorable night in Abu Dhabi's Etihad Arena.
Yes, one could make the solid argument McGregor's inactivity over the years had a detrimental effect on his performance, a fact he himself has admitted.
But to call him 'old' and 'washed up' on the back of a loss to the best lightweight not named Khabib Nurmagomedov is ludicrous and a harsh reminder of just how fickle combat sports fans can be.
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