UFC 257 fallout: Did Conor McGregor lose his killer instinct?

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

This past Saturday at UFC 257, the world got to see the highly anticipated rematch between Conor McGregor (22-5) and Dustin Poirier (27-6, 1 NC). The two had fought in 2014 and McGregor won by first round knockout.

This fight was drastically different. While McGregor did have success, Poirier’s improved durability and overall skills really showed. In the second round, Poirier was able to put together a massive string of shots and put McGregor away to even the score.

After UFC 257, I’ve heard some people talk about McGregor’s killer instinct in the cage. There’s been a narrative that McGregor didn’t have that dog in him when he was fighting Poirier and that is one of the reasons he lost.

Josh Thomson was the first to mention it on his podcast, Weighing In, with Big John McCarthy. Thomson said that when you’re at the stage of happiness that McGregor is at, it’s hard to have that killer in you like you do when you’re on the come up.

When McGregor first came on the scene in the UFC, he had nothing to his name. He was on welfare and he briefly worked as a plumber. McGregor was just a kid who wanted the world and that’s what he got. He achieved everything he’s ever wanted in this game.

What happened at UFC 257?

Heading into UFC 257, I don’t think we’ve ever seen a more dedicated version of McGregor from a training perspective. He looked to be in incredible shape and you could tell he was fully prepared for the fight.

In the first round, the former two-division UFC champion saw some success. He landed some very big shots on Dustin Poirier and all three judges gave the first round to McGregor. Poirier admitted that McGregor hurt him with shots on the feet, but McGregor didn’t press forward.

I’ve rewatched the fight probably ten times at this point. There were three times where I could see McGregor hurt Poirier at UFC 257. Twice in the first round and once to open the second round.

When McGregor hurt Poirier, he didn’t press forward at all looking for a finish. It was almost as if he was point fighting or going through the motions as if you were sparring. There was no urgency to finish the fight at UFC 257. Now, maybe some of that had to do with the questions around his cardio.

While McGregor was landing cleaner shots on the feet, Poirier was chipping away at McGregor’s lead leg. Eventually that damage added up and aided Poirier in securing the second round finish.

I can see where Thomson is coming from as well as other media pundits who’ve said McGregor’s lost that edge. Some fighter’s need that edge to perform at their absolute best. Maybe McGregor is one of those guys.

I think we will really get our answer in McGregor’s next UFC fight. There were a lot of things that went into that loss, but I think the main credit is with Dustin Poirier. Now if Conor McGregor comes back in May/June and starches his next opponent, you’ll hear crickets from the critics. Time will tell on this one.