After getting stopped at UFC 257, what’s next for Conor McGregor?

Conor McGregor, UFC
January 18, 2020; Las Vegas, Nevada, USA; Conor McGregor holds an Irish flag as he celebrates his first round TKO victory against Donald Cerrone following UFC 246 at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Last night at UFC 257, the fight world was turned upside down. Dustin Poirier (27-6, 1 NC) utilized a beautiful game plan and stopped Conor McGregor (22-5) in the second round of their rematch.

McGregor had a lot of success in the first round at UFC 257. Upon rewatching the fight, I noticed that McGregor appeared to briefly wobble Poirier a couple of times in the first round. However, he never pushed the action afterwards.

It appeared that McGregor was a little too patient in there. Meanwhile, Poirier took McGregor’s shots and he wouldn’t go away in the first. In the second round, Poirier really started to connect with devastating leg kicks.

A couple of minutes into the round and McGregor buckled after a brutal kick from Poirier. Sensing that McGregor was badly hurt, Poirier swarmed. McGregor dodged some big shots at first, but Poirier was able to land a brutal combination to end things.

The loss at UFC 257 was the first time that McGregor has been stopped by strikes in his career. In reality, it was the first time we’ve seen him really hurt badly on the feet. He’s been stunned a couple of times, but Poirier put him out.

What’s next after UFC 257?

I was very encouraged to hear McGregor at the UFC 257 post-fight press conference. McGregor made it clear that he doesn’t plan on walking away. He also said in his interview in the octagon that he believes inactivity really bit him in this fight.

After last night, it will be back to the drawing board for McGregor. Fortunately for the former UFC champion, the problems from last night are easy to identify. His inability to properly check Poirier’s leg kicks is what did him in.

If the main event was just a boxing match with MMA gloves, McGregor was getting the better of it. McGregor was even getting the better of some of the grappling exchanges that occurred in the fight.

However, a very poised Dustin Poirier found a weakness in the McGregor armor. When he found that weakness, he attacked it viscously. Unlike McGregor, Poirier fought with a killer instinct and he won because of it.

I think the UFC has a very clear next step for Conor McGregor. The next step is the trilogy fight with Nate Diaz (20-12). Diaz is returning to the lightweight division and both men are coming off losses. It’s a massive fight and really the only one that makes sense for Conor McGregor at this time.