Dustin Poirier’s leg kicks at UFC 257 were as effective as they come.
The UFC lightweight contender picked up an impressive win over Conor McGregor on Jan. 23 at the pay-per-view event, stopping the former two-division UFC champion in the second round of their headlining contest. And although Poirier’s boxing ultimately closed the show, his handiwork to the calf of McGregor was big factor in putting the Irishman in a compromising position.
Former UFC fighter and current American Top Team coach Thiago Alves helped Poirier prepare for UFC 257, along with Poirier’s head coach Mike Brown and boxing coach Dyah Davis.
Alves, who’s historically was one of the most feared leg kickers in MMA, said the calf kick was well-planned for the rematch with McGregor.
“It was one of the strategies for this fight,” Alves told MMA Junkie. “Dustin is a complete fighter. We know that he can be superior in the standup, in the grappling, and in the wrestling, as well.
“So we came up with a good gameplan – me, Mike Brown and coach Dyah Davis, his boxing coach. The calf kicks, the leg kicks were definitely one of the weapons that Dustin was able to use, but we had a lot of ways to get the job done.”
Alves said the calf kicks was something the team recognized preparing for McGregor. With a wide stance, “The Notorious” was susceptible to those types of kicks, and said the team expected the strikes to play a big part in the matchup.
“We know that it was a very good possibility, especially because of the way Conor McGregor stands, you know, that wide karate style with great boxing,” Alves explained. “But we know how much damage the calf kicks cause. It’s something that doesn’t just go away, and it just stays with you. It makes you slower. So it was definitely one of the weapons we knew Dustin could be successful with.”
Calf kicks might not seem as effective as strikes to the head to the average person. However, Alves, who very well knows the impact of leg kicks, assures they’re a devastating tool in fighting.
“Your whole leg is completely dead, and when you breathe, it hurts as well,” Alves said. “So it pretty much shoots a pain through out your whole leg and you’re not able to stand still. Every time when you put your foot on the ground, it’s super painful, so it’s very debilitating. It’s hard to move forward. It’s hard to impose your gameplan.”
With the win, Poirier was able to settle the score and avenge his 2014 loss to McGregor. He’s also now 7-1 in his past eight UFC bouts, with his lone loss coming to now-retired Khabib Nurmagomedov.
It’s undeniable that Poirier is among the very best lightweights in the world, and maybe even arguably the best active fighter at 155 pounds. Alves is happy to see Poirier thriving in MMA and feels honored to form part of Poirier’s team.
“It was awesome,” Alves said. “I’ve been working with Dustin Poirier since 2017. The first fight that we worked together was against Anthony Pettis. He can do it all. He can wrestle, he can box, he can kickbox, and he can submit you if you give him the opportunity, and it was pretty cool seeing Conor McGregor recognize myself in the corner and the strategy and everything.
“But all props goes to Dustin and the team strategy combined. We got the job done and shocked the world. A lot of people were counting him out, and you can’t just count out the guy who’s been beating everyone at that weight class, so we’re very happy with the result.”
Check out the full interview with Alves in the video below.