Conor McGregor steps back into the octagon after a year-long absence to take on Dustin Poirier at UFC 257.
The pair first fought in September 2014, when McGregor continued his tear through the featherweight division by stopping his American rival after just one minute and 46 seconds of the first round in Las Vegas.
But what has happened to both fighters since then?..
A star is born
A little over a year after beating Poirier, McGregor sent shockwaves through the mixed martial arts world when he knocked out long-reigning featherweight champion Jose Aldo in 13 seconds. With that win, the Irishman catapulted himself to global superstardom, becoming the UFC’s top attraction by shattering pay-per-view records.
Eleven months after his destruction of Aldo, he stopped Eddie Alvarez to capture the lightweight crown and become the ‘champ-champ’ – the first fighter to simultaneously hold UFC titles in two different weight categories.
Dustin bounces back
Defeat to McGregor was Poirier’s fourth in 20 MMA contests and the Louisiana man recognised changes needed to be made. Cutting weight to 145lbs was becoming increasingly problematic for Poirier, who moved up to the lightweight division, vowing to remain there for the rest of his career.
His fortunes improved as he stopped Carlos Diego Ferreira, Yancy Medeiros and Bobby Green and gained a decision win over Joseph Duffy over the next two years before being brutally stopped by Michael Johnson in September 2016.
The Money Fight
A much-hyped boxing bout in August 2017 against pound-for-pound king Floyd Mayweather elevated McGregor’s star to stratospheric levels. He lost his first professional fight after being overwhelmed in the 10th round as Mayweather moved to 50-0.
But McGregor performed better than many observers expected and reportedly pocketed more than $100 million (€82.2 million) from a showdown that was second on the all-time list of highest-grossing PPVs.
However, controversy ensued the following year when, having been stripped of both UFC titles by this point, he attacked a bus containing Khabib Nurmagomedov, who would go on to succeed McGregor as lightweight champion a few days later.
Poirier moves up the ladder
Between November 2017 and April 2019, Poirier put together one of the best winning streaks in recent history. He first defeated former 155lb champion Anthony Pettis then stopped future lightweight title challenger Justin Gaethje.
A barrage of punches gave Poirier a victory over former McGregor foe Alvarez before he clinched the interim lightweight title after being given a unanimous decision over then featherweight champion Max Holloway. That put him on a collision course with Nurmagomedov.
Before Poirier got to Nurmagomedov, the Russian became undisputed top dog in the lightweight division with a masterclass against McGregor in October 2018.
The rivalry was not settled by McGregor tapping out to a neck crank in the fourth round, though, as Nurmagomedov sparked an ugly post-fight melee which would lead to bans for both combatants.
For a period, McGregor spent more time on the front pages than the back due to mounting legal issues – including a Dublin pub assault in April 2019 – but he returned to the octagon in January last year.
Nurmagomedov dismantled Poirier inside three rounds in September 2019 in similar fashion to how he saw off McGregor. Poirier and McGregor have rebounded, the former by outpointing Dan Hooker in a fight of the year contender last June, while the latter needed just 40 seconds to defeat Donald Cerrone 12 months ago.
While McGregor announced his latest retirement last summer, he reversed his decision to take on Poirier again. Much has changed since their first meeting: McGregor’s legacy is secure and he is set for life; as well as his career earnings, he now also has his own whiskey business.
Poirier may not have the same fame and fortune, but he has developed his own signature hot sauce and launched, alongside his wife, The Good Fight Foundation, a charity aimed at helping local communities in his home state of Louisiana. McGregor has vowed to donate $500,000 (€411,000) to the foundation.