A “gutted” Conor McGregor put his knockout defeat to Dustin Poirier in Abu Dhabi down to inactivity and vowed to bounce back as soon as possible.
The former two-division champion, 32, was making his return to the octagon for the first time in more than a year, in the headline bout at UFC 257 at Etihad Arena on Sunday morning.
However, he was rocked by a left hook and then floored with a short right from Poirier midway through the second round. The American, who previously held the lightweight interim title, avenged his 2014 defeat to McGregor. Poirier earned a bonus for Performance of the Night.
McGregor, whose record stands at 22-5, was competing for only the second time since October 2018.
Speaking in the octagon immediately after, the Irishman said: “It’s hard to overcome inactivity over long periods of time. And that’s just it. The leg kicks were good, that low calf kick was very good. The leg was dead.
“Just wasn’t as comfortable as I needed to be. It’s the inactivity and that’s it. But Dustin’s some fighter. If you put in the time in here, you’re going to get cosy in here.
"I have to dust it off and come back and that’s it, and that’s what I’ll do.”
Pressed if he’ll return to fight again this year, McGregor said: “Of course. I need activity, guys, come on. You don’t get away with being inactive in this business and that’s the way it is.
“I’ll take my licks. I’m gutted to be honest. I put so much work in. Well done Dustin, we’re one and one, good man.
“We’ll go again. It’s a tough one to swallow. I did a lot of work. I’m proud of my work.
“I would’ve liked to have represented my team a bit better. We’ll get to go again and that’s it. I’ll go home to my kids in the hotel and chill for a bit and regroup.”
UFC 257 brought to a close the three-event Fight Island Triple Header, the UFC’s third residency in Abu Dhabi. The series was open to a limited amount of fans, with UFC president Dana White confirming 2,600 were in attendance. White said also that the event would rank in the top two or three pay-per-views in the promotion’s history.