Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 26 October 2020

UFC

Conor McGregor set to make UFC return after 'accepting' fight with Dustin Poirier

Former two-weight champion retired in June and has not fought since a 40-second stoppage win over Donald Cerrone in January

Conor McGregor has said he has accepted a rematch with Dustin Poirier for January 23, marking a return to the UFC octagon following the Irish superstar's most recent retirement announcement.

McGregor, a former UFC champion at featherweight and lightweight, stated in June that he was walking away from mixed martial arts. It was the third time he retired from the sport.

Since then, the 32-year-old from Dublin opened talks with Filipino boxing world champion Manny Pacquaio for a crossover fight and also engaged in social media dialogue with Poirier over a charity bout.

It now appears that McGregor's showdown with Poirier will be a sanctioned UFC event, and the Irishman said he hopes it can take place at the Dallas Cowboys' AT&T Stadium.

"I accept, Jan 23rd is on! My goal is to see this fight take place in Cowboy stadium," McGregor wrote on Twitter. "Proper Style! [Cowboys owner] Jerry Jones is a friend and the stadium can hold our crowd. I will be ready for Texas and Texas will be ready for my fans!"

McGregor added that he has not given up his plans on facing Pacquiao, writing: "Then Manny."

Poirier, 31, responded to McGregor's announcement by saying: "Close to home for me on my birthday weekend! What weight?"

McGregor and Poirier have met inside the octagon once before, at UFC 178 in September 2014, with McGregor claiming a first round TKO win. That bout was contested at featherweight.

McGregor's hopes of staging the bout at the Cowboys stadium follows guidelines from the NFL team to allow 25 per cent capacity – up to 20,000 fans – for American football games.

However, after hosting a few of its early shows during the pandemic in Jacksonville, the UFC has staged all of its subsequent events at its base in Las Vegas and all international fights at Fight Island in Abu Dhabi within strict "bubbles". Whether the UFC would be willing to relocate for McGregor's fight with Poirier remains to be seen.

UFC president Dana White, currently in Abu Dhabi for the second instalment of Fight Island, confirmed in an exclusive interview with The National this week that an offer had gone out to McGregor and Poirier.

“We offered them both a fight, Dustin accepted the fight; we’re waiting on Conor,” White said. “We actually made a date for him, a date that we didn’t have. We created another date in January for Dustin versus Conor. So we’re just waiting to hear back from Conor and get this done.”

McGregor last fought in the UFC in January when he claimed a 40-second stoppage win over Donald Cerrone at UFC 246. Poirier bounced back from his defeat to Khabib Nurmagomedov at UFC 242 in Abu Dhabi with a decision victory over Dan Hooker in June.

Updated: October 15, 2020 09:12 AM

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