Many have claimed the rematch between Conor McGregor and Dustin Poirier will play out the same as the first bout. But Mike Brown has a number of reasons why he thinks differently.
The American Top Team coach and long-time training partner of Poirier (26-6 MMA, 18-5 UFC) feels the scene is much different entering the second bout with McGregor on Jan. 23 at UFC 257 than the first time the two met back at UFC 178 in 2014, where McGregor scored a first-round knockout.
For starters, Brown challenges the notion Poirier is the same fighter he was six year ago. For starters, “The Diamond” is now a lightweight, where he has thrived, not a featherweight.
“I think he’s dramatically different,” Brown told MMA Junkie. “A lot has changed. I think he’s a lot more durable at 155, killing yourself to make the weight is never the answer and I think that’s shown.
“And he’s improved in many places, but there’s only one way to find out and one way to show, and that’s putting him in there and seeing what happens.”
But the new wrinkles in the rematch go beyond just those involving his fighter. The former WEC champion, who is now considered among the game’s finest coaches, feels there’s a lot more information on former UFC lightweight and featherweight champion McGregor – something that there wasn’t much of when the Irishman was just three fights into his UFC career, as he was at UFC 178.
“When they fought the first time there were a lot of questions about Conor,” Brown said. “At that point in his career, that was his biggest win, his biggest test was Dustin. And he did well – he fought a good fight and landed a good shot.
“But so much has happened since, we got to learn so much about Conor. Both guys have been tested in many ways and have shown a lot of different things – strength and weaknesses since then. Now it’s time to train, prepare, and see what we can come up with.”
The McGregor-Poirier rematch is a huge fight for the UFC’s lightweight division, as it pits two of the biggest names and top contenders in the weight class. There’s no questioning McGregor’s star power, but you can’t sleep on former interim lightweight champ Poirier, either, given what he has done in the cage time after time.
“It was this or a title fight best-case scenario,” Brown said. “He improves every fight, his resume is unbelievably impressive. I don’t know how many headliners he’s fought in a row, but it’s quite a bit.
“It’s always champions, former champions every fight and every fight is always ‘Fight of the Night,’ ‘Fight of the Year’ candidate. This guy doesn’t have a boring minute in any fight. If he’s fighting, you’re watching.”