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In a rematch nearly 7 years in the making, Conor McGregor’s trip to Fight Island was spoiled by Dustin Poirier in a second round TKO. The Notorious One seemingly controlled the first round with impressive wrestling and damaging strikes up top but once the second round began, the Irishman ran out of luck. Poirier’s incorporation of calf kicks rendered McGregor’s lethal legs useless fast and once Poirier started landing upstairs, Conor couldn’t stop him as his MMA record fell to 22-5 after going down 2:32 into the second round.

“Mystic Mac” came out flying in the first round as after being taken down early, McGregor got up and working in the clinch with hard shoulder strikes, the same ones that hurt Donald Cerrone last year. After disengaging, the southpaw’s left hand was landing often and a right shovel punch even snapped Poirier’s head back and damaged him momentarily. The wide consensus on the first round was 10-9 in favor of the Notorious One. In the second, Conor was still landing good shots upstairs but could not check Poirier’s frequent calf kicks, which would go on to debilitate McGregor’s legs to the point of near ineffectiveness. Although he did adjust and begin to catch the Diamond’s feet as they were coming in, the right leg was hurting bad. After a right calf kick nearly midway through the second round, Dustin Poirier unloaded on McGregor up against the cage with a flurry of punches to the face, finishing him off with a right hand square on the jaw before referee Herb Dean stopped the fight.

After suffering the first knockout loss of his UFC career, McGregor’s future in fighting is up in question. If he were to topple Poirier again, there was realistic thought Conor could’ve forced the undefeated lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov out of retirement for a rematch from their 2018 title fight, in which Nurmagomedov submitted McGregor in the fourth round. But since Conor was defeated and in embarrassing fashion, a lightweight championship match is not going to happen for the former double champion anytime soon. So how can McGregor get back to the top of the fighting mountain? Well, it’s going to be a steep one to climb.

Assuming Conor follows his intentions of being active in the octagon in 2021, his next fight would be somewhere towards the middle of spring or even early summer. With his name and reputation, he will surely see a big name across from him. A few realistic matchups within the lightweight division could include guys such as Dan Hooker (whom ironically enough also was defeated at UFC 257), new breakout star Mike Chandler, or the fight that could break the box office in Conor McGregor versus another guy who needs a win in Tony Ferguson. However, McGregor has shown us in the past that he’s more than willing to take his talents to other sides of combat sports.

The Notorious One famously took his talents to the boxing ring in 2017 after leaving the UFC a year prior to face off against undefeated boxing legend Floyd Mayweather, in which the Money man was victorious by way of 10th round TKO. With rumors flying about for months of possible opponents in the squared circle ranging from another boxing great in Manny Pacquaio to youtube star Jake Paul, it wouldn’t be out of the question for McGregor to make another appearance with the gloves this year.

With the notion that Conor McGregor seemingly wants to continue his fighting career, his next bout will no doubt be a big one not just for the ratings and money, but also for the future of the Notorious One. The former featherweight and lightweight champion has to prove himself wherever he goes next and if he does not bounce back to the level of greatness he was once at, the end of the road could be near for one of the most famous names in fighting.

Image: MMA Fighting