After the niceties in Abu Dhabi in January, Conor McGregor reverted to type early Friday ahead of his trilogy with Dustin Poirier, as he goaded then kicked out at his opponent at the pre-fight press conference - before promising the greatest display in UFC history.
McGregor, a former two-division world champion, takes on the American in the headline bout at UFC 264 at T-Mobile Arena on Sunday, where he will seek to rebound from his emphatic knockout in the UAE capital six months ago.
Poirier registered a second-round TKO at Etihad Arena at UFC 257, the first knockout of McGregor’s 27-fight professional career, to even their rivalry at 1-1. The pair first met in 2014, when McGregor won by first-round TKO.
However, while the build-up to their second clash was congenial, the Irishman has spent the past week taunting Poirier on social media. That continued through his media duties on Thursday, and ramped up even more at the official press conference.
"I'm going to go through his head, put holes in it and take it off his shoulders," McGregor said in front of a lively crowd at T-Mobile Arena, having thrown around bottles of Poirier’s hot-sauce product when he arrived on stage. "That's the goal here. He's done here. This is it for him. This is the end of the road.
“Even after that last fight, ‘Oh I don’t love this anymore, I don’t love doing this.’ He knew what was coming. He knew the smacks he took. So it’s on now.”
McGregor, 33 next week, went on to include Poirier’s wife, Jolie, in the jibes and again questioned his opponent’s mettle and conditioning. The Dublin native vowed to have learnt lessons from his January defeat, saying he had overlooked Poirier as at the time he was focusing on a crossover boxing match with Manny Pacquiao later in 2021. All said, McGregor has won only once in the UFC in almost five years.
Asked what victory on Sunday would mean to him, he replied: "Another feather to the cap. It's what I love to do. I love to come in here, defy the odds, do the unthinkable and put on a show.
"He’s Buster Douglas. Buster Douglas is what he is, and that’s the way he’s going to go down. He’s going to be known for that. [UFC257] was a fluke win, and I’m going to correct it on Saturday night.”
McGregor, the most bankable star in the promotion, said he would deliver a performance superior to his celebrated TKO win against Eddie Alvarez at UFC 205 in 2016, when he became the UFC’s first simultaneous two-weight champion.
“I’m better than that man [Poirier]; it’s coming full circle and I look forward to showing it on Saturday night,” McGregor said. “[UFC 205] was the single greatest performance in UFC history, widely regarded, the night I won the second world title in Madison Square Garden. This performance on Saturday night, I’m going to top it.”
Poirier, however, did not appear too flustered by McGregor’s antics throughout the press conference, saying: “You used to be a lot better than that. The trash talk was a lot better than that. Weak.”
Poirier, also 32, added: “For me, the aura is not there anymore. Very dangerous fighter sitting right here, for sure. No doubt. But I see a man.
“You guys in the crowd, cheer it up, have fun. But I see a man sitting here in front of me that I have defeated and I know I can defeat again."
McGregor had to be repeatedly held back from his opponent during the conference, and when the two fighters squared off at its conclusion, he kicked out at Poirier. UFC president Dana White has already confirmed the winner of Sunday’s encounter will next face lightweight champion Charles Oliveira.