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How adjustments will factor into UFC 264 trilogy

Conor McGregor and Dustin Poirier at UFC 257. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)

Despite officially picking McGregor to win their last meeting, I did state in my prior analysis that Poirier’s check right hook would be worth watching out for in regards to punctuating exchanges. And though I believe that aspect of the matchup has still been underplayed both pre and post-fight, there will be much more stylistic questions that McGregor will have to answer outside of potential changes in head movement.

As seen in the clip linked above, McGregor’s distance management abilities make him really good at going in and out or slipping from side to side, but his lack of rolls and level changes make him specifically susceptible to check hooks (which played quiet roles in both of his losses to fellow lefties). Far be it from me to tell any professional fighter what to do, but I do reckon that McGregor will need to find ways to feint out those tools in order to mitigate threats.

Not only would feints – something McGregor is competent in – help draw out counters, but they could also assist him in sniffing out calf kick attempts from his American Top Team counterpart.

A staple attack from the famed South Florida camp (to which Dan Lambert credits Wilson Goveia for), the calf kick has been a hallmark for many of the game plans that have come out of American Top Team, as it also assisted in Poirier’s win over McGregor. The Irishman’s attitude and excuses regarding the leg kicks were suspect, to say the least, offering his usual coded responses.

In McGregor’s defense, he could be talking about using leg kicks of his own to cash some checks – something that he did in his rematch with Nate Diaz. After all, Poirier is not beyond having his legs assaulted, as the way he weights his stance also makes him susceptible to someone intent on delivering damage (e.g. Justin Gaethje and Jim Miller).

McGregor has also promised to deliver on a front kick finish, which is a threat I wouldn’t worry about as much considering Poirier’s propensity to use monkey-paw parries (downward parries) and get his head offline whenever those attacks do come his way.

Nevertheless, McGregor is not beyond attempting somewhat sizeable changes in order to fulfill his own prophecies, so don’t be surprised to see the former champ-champ do something drastic like show an orthodox stance. Although I don’t think that sort of switch would serve McGregor well from a defensive standpoint, I still suspect that his boxing success will largely come down to whether or not he can stay discipline without being rote with his lead hand, regardless of stance.

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