Updated July 8, 2021 - 7:12 pm
Familiarity has done little for Dustin Poirier when it comes to predicting Conor McGregor’s behavior.
The lightweight contender is never quite sure what to expect from the Irish superstar even as they get set to step into the cage for the third time in the main event of UFC 264 on Saturday at T-Mobile Arena.
That said, he no longer cares.
“For me, the aura is not there anymore,” Poirier said at Thursday’s news conference at T-Mobile Arena. “He’s a very dangerous fighter, for sure, but I see a man here in front of me that I defeated and I know I can defeat again.”
That wasn’t always the case. Poirier admits McGregor’s antics and trash talking got in his head the first time they fought in 2014, when McGregor knocked him out in the first round.
Poirier rebounded with a second-round knockout in January’s rematch to set the stage for the third fight.
McGregor was far more respectful and subdued before the January fight, but has reverted to his brash and braggadocio persona.
He launched several personal attacks on social media and, after arriving more than 30 minutes late for the news conference, immediately began to antagonize Poirier.
Poirier could only think of one reason for the drastic turnaround.
“It’s because he got knocked the (expletive) out,” he said.
McGregor dismissed the result, comparing Poirier’s win to massive underdog Buster Douglas’s stunning knockout of Mike Tyson in 1990.
“It was a fluke win, and I’m going to correct it on Saturday night,” McGregor said to thunderous applause from the several thousand fans in attendance, many of whom braved temperatures well into the triple digits to wait in line outside for a seat in the arena.
McGregor immediately worked his supporters into a frenzy, strutting around the stage and pouring out a promotional bottle of Poirier’s branded hot sauce. He lunged as if he was going to go after Poirier, prompting security personnel to intervene.
As Poirier spoke for the first time, McGregor interrupted and tried to demean him by calling him a “silly little hillbilly” who is subservient to his wife, Jolie.
McGregor started to lead the crowd in a chant of “Jolie’s wife,” drawing little reaction from his opponent.
“You used to be so much better at this, man,” Poirier said.
McGregor then was asked if he thinks his antics are getting inside Poirier’s head as they did seven years ago in the first meeting
“I don’t give a bollocks about all that,” he said. “Just lock me in the cage and see what happens. I’m going to go through his head, put holes in it and take it off his shoulders. Saturday night, he’s getting walked around like a dog and put to sleep.”
UFC president Dana White and two security officials made sure there was no close contact during the staredown to end the 30-minute event, though McGregor tried to throw a kick from close range.
The fighters will weigh in Friday and then headline the pay-per-view event, which begins at 7 p.m. Saturday, with the winner likely getting a title shot. McGregor said he wants that fight at Allegiant Stadium.
Main card bouts for Saturday’s 7 p.m. pay-per-view event at T-Mobile Arena:
Dustin Poirier (27-6, 1 No Contest) vs. Conor McGregor (22-5), lightweights
Gilbert Burns (19-4) vs. Stephen Thompson (16-4-1), welterweights
Tai Tuivasa (12-3) vs. Greg Hardy (7-3, 1 No Contest), heavyweights
Irene Aldana (12-6) vs. Yana Kunitskaya (14-5, 1 No Contest), women’s bantamweights
Sean O’Malley (13-1) vs. Kris Moutinho (9-4), bantamweights