Conor McGregor's 2020 fell well short of his expectations. He had planned to fight at least three times, with one of those being a rematch against Khabib Nurmagomedov for the UFC lightweight championship.
Instead, McGregor fought for a total of 40 seconds, which was how long he needed to beat the fading Donald Cerrone on Jan. 18. The coronavirus pandemic interrupted McGregor's plans for the rest of the year, and he became so frustrated that he tweeted he was retiring -- again.
So consider 2021 a mulligan for McGregor, who will look to get back on track in UFC 257, scheduled for Saturday. He'll have his rematch, but it won't be against Nurmagomedov, and it won't be for a title. He'll face Dustin Poirier, who fell in just 1 minute, 46 seconds via TKO against McGregor in 2014.
Poirier has won 10 fights since then, beating some of the best in the UFC, including Justin Gaethje, Max Holloway and Dan Hooker. McGregor went on to become the biggest star in UFC history, establishing himself as the first UFC fighter ever to hold two belts simultaneously.
So what will the rematch hold? This page will be continually updated with news, features, social media posts and more, as McGregor vs. Poirier 2 is set to headline on "Fight Island."
Party with J.Lo, dinner with Bono; inside McGregor stories
Read the behind-the-scenes stories of McGregor's journey from those who know him best. They describe what it was like to stand next to McGregor as his group entered Jennifer Lopez's private residence for a party, only to find a quiet, mostly empty apartment. Rosie Perez describes what she was thinking when McGregor gave her a "Who the f--- are you?" look during the wild media tour for his boxing match against Floyd Mayweather in 2017. And Bruce Buffer remembers meeting a young man in Ireland who made an astonishing prediction that he ultimately backed up.
McGregor, Poirier make weight for UFC 257
ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates -- A nontitle UFC lightweight rematch between Conor McGregor and Dustin Poirier is official for UFC 257 on Saturday, as both fighters successfully made weight during Friday's weigh-in.
McGregor (22-4), a former undisputed champion at lightweight, weighed in at 155 pounds. Poirier (26-6), who won an interim lightweight championship in 2019, tipped the scales at 156. The contest headlines UFC 257 on Saturday inside Etihad Arena.
McGregor wants to fight seven times in next 18 months
Conor McGregor went into last year with the desire to fight at least three times before the calendar turned to 2021. Now, the former UFC double champion has even more ambitious goals: seven fights in the next 18 months, he said Thursday on Stephen A's World.
"The truth is the fight game will never get rid of me," McGregor told Stephen A. Smith on the ESPN+ program. "Conor McGregor will be here until the day I go out. So that's it. If they line me up, I'll get about seven fights in the next year and a half. That's what I want."
McGregor: The war with Khabib is not over
Conor McGregor still has a Khabib Nurmagomedov rematch on his mind, though he acknowledges that the chances of it happening have greatly diminished.
The former UFC double champion said Thursday at the UFC 257 news conference that he considers there to be a great deal of unfinished business between himself and Nurmagomedov. But if Nurmagomedov wants to retire, McGregor said he'll have no choice but to move forward.
Predictions: Not everyone is picking McGregor
One top MMA coach said: I do think Conor truly loves the sport, and he's one of the big reasons why fighters are making a little more money. But just going off improvements and staying active and staying in the gym, constantly improving, I think it's Dustin's time.
How Poirier has changed since losing to McGregor
THE ONLY TIME Dustin Poirier wanted to fight an opponent outside of the cage was the week of UFC 178.
Poirier remembers standing behind a curtain at the MGM Grand Conference Center in Las Vegas in September 2014, waiting to get on the scale. He recalls seeing a few scuffles in the crowd, which was packed with Irish fans. He remembers being dehydrated and anxious to weigh in. And he remembers tension after weeks of being the target of Conor McGregor's trash talk.
See who Gilbert Melendez thinks will win
The main event of UFC 257 is going to be an incredible fight, but to process this bout we need to think about what has already happened. McGregor got the best of Poirier years ago and no matter what, that will weigh heavily on the mindset of both fighters.
Let's start with the key questions: Can Poirier learn from his last fight and make the adjustments? Can he weather the early storm of McGregor? Is Poirier's activity a good thing because he has constant experience? Is McGregor's inactivity a good thing because he has taken minimal damage? Or will McGregor be rusty? Can McGregor manage his energy bar to sustain a high pace and effort for five rounds?
How 10 weeks in Portugal changed Conor McGregor
Conor McGregor lay on the mat of the UFC Octagon looking toward the ceiling, his hands clasped behind his head. It was March 5, 2016, and McGregor's chest was heaving with deep breath after deep breath.
The mixed martial arts superstar had just suffered his first UFC loss, a second-round submission defeat against Nate Diaz. As he stared up at the lights inside the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas and UFC 196 came to a close, McGregor knew why he succumbed.
Exactly three weeks later, McGregor sent a Facebook message to an old friend, former pro cyclist Colin Byrne. On March 26, 2016, McGregor asked Byrne if he could assist him with his endurance and stamina, writing, "I felt I struggled in that fight because of the cardio."
What UFC 257 will tell us about McGregor
MGM GRAND GARDEN Arena was packed with great fighters that night. It was Sept. 27, 2014, and the headline bout of UFC 178 had a championship at stake. The Las Vegas spotlight was also shining on the return of a long-gone former champ. There were even three future titleholders sprinkled throughout the undercard. One of them would soon take over mixed martial arts.
Conor McGregor was stepping into the Octagon for only the fourth time. He had won his first three UFC outings, and he had done so with gusto, intoxicating an expanding fan base with brazenness in his fights and at the microphone. He was a disruptor on the rise, but on this night, he faced a sizable step up the ladder. His opponent was a fellow young climber named Dustin Poirier, who was more seasoned with 10 trips inside the UFC cage.
Helwani: How McGregor surprised me as UFC 257 nears
I've been talking to McGregor since 2013, prior to his UFC debut. I've witnessed and chronicled the extreme highs and lows of the McGregor era, each appearance exposing a different side of the self-proclaimed face of the fight game.
Forced to guess which side would show up this time, I would have said an irritated one. One who felt he just watched a prime year slip away. One who felt he was benched by the powers that be for no good reason. One who was also cutting to 155 pounds for the first time since 2018, so, of course, that would bring a level of stress, too.
Boy, was I wrong.
With relationship repaired, Dana says 'real' Conor is back
UFC president Dana White says his relationship with Conor McGregor is solid going into 2021, after hitting a "bad place" in the second half of last year.
The relationship between the UFC and McGregor started off on a high note in 2020, as McGregor headlined the UFC 246 pay-per-view against Donald "Cowboy" Cerrone on Jan. 18. He knocked out Cerrone in just 40 seconds. McGregor had said he intended to stay active with three fights in 2020, but it ultimately ended up being his only appearance of the year.
Khabib-Conor rematch? White still sees a possibility
As a fan of the sport, White said he'd love to see Nurmagomedov fight "10 more," but hinted his goal, for now, is to get him to return for just one. Should McGregor beat Khabib, White has made it no secret he would love to book a second fight between Nurmagomedov and McGregor. The two met for the title in October 2018, and Nurmagomedov won via submission in the fourth round.
"As a promoter, you always want to see the best guys in the world, but at the same time, when a guy wants to retire, he probably should," White said. "The difference with a guy like Khabib is he's been through so much, and losing his dad was a major blow to him. Yet, his dad wanted him to hit 30-0.
"No matter what you think of Conor personally, Conor McGregor is not only one of the best in the world, but one of the best to ever do it. And right now, he's as focused as he's ever been. I don't know if this is going to be the same Conor after the Poirier fight, but if this Conor sticks around for the next year, how do you not do Khabib vs. Conor again?"
Best shape of his life? McGregor's nutritionist encouraged
Every time Conor McGregor fights, he creates a buzz that no other UFC fighter can come close to reaching. And as he prepares for his UFC 257 main event on Jan. 23 against Dustin Poirier, part of that buzz is centered on how strong McGregor has looked in some of his social media posts.
McGregor hasn't fought at the lightweight limit of 155 pounds in over two years, since losing to Khabib Nurmagomedov on Oct. 6, 2018. And while McGregor admits he was undisciplined for that training camp, the opposite appears to be true as he gets ready to head to Fight Island in Abu Dhabi.
McGregor returned to Ireland three weeks ago after spending the first six weeks of his camp in Portugal, and some are saying he's in the best shape of his life.
Khabib sees McGregor-Poirier winner on title track
Khabib Nurmagomedov said he believes the winner of the UFC 257 main event between Conor McGregor and Dustin Poirier on Jan. 23 will fight for the UFC lightweight belt. He did not, however, name an opponent for that potential title fight.
Nurmagomedov remains the lightweight champ despite retiring after beating Justin Gaethje on Oct. 24. He was asked during an interview with the Russian outlet Match TV if there's a chance he'll fight again in the UFC, and according to the transcript Match provided, he said: "I would not want that."
Some originally thought Nurmagomedov was indicating that McGregor vs. Poirier would be for the title, assuming it was vacant. But Nurmagomedov's manager, Ali Abdelaziz, clarified that what the champ meant was he believes the winner of the Jan. 23 bout will fight for the title.
McGregor's gesture puts gym owner in tears
Philip Mulpeter posted bad news recently on Instagram. The gym he owns, SBG Portarlington in County Laois, Ireland, would have to close its doors because of financial concerns brought upon by COVID-19 lockdowns in the country.
"We've had three lockdowns now, and I think after each lockdown it's hard to get the same numbers back in," Mulpeter told ESPN. "People lose the routine and just our numbers were dropping. Every time there was a new lockdown, we got deeper and deeper into debt. ... Our landlord wasn't giving us any break on the rent or anything like that. We had to decide to shut the doors for good."
Then in stepped Conor McGregor.
See which of the two is ranked among ESPN's P4P top 10
There was a time when Conor McGregor was considered one of the best fighters on the planet, with a future that could make him the GOAT.
But a lucrative sidetrack to box Floyd Mayweather Jr. derailed those plans on Aug. 26, 2017. Was it a temporary derailment? The answer might be revealed in 2021.
Meanwhile, Dustin Poirier has been busy and successful, beating some of the best in the world.
One of these two was ranked among the top 10 pound-for-pound fighters in the world.
This is the most compelling fight to open 2021
The UFC begins 2021 with what should be a featherweight thriller: former champion Max Holloway taking on Calvin Kattar on Jan. 16, with the winner possibly earning a title opportunity. Four days later, the UFC could see a welterweight title challenger emerge.
But the fight everyone is looking forward to will be on Jan. 23, when Conor McGregor returns to face Dustin Poirier.
Real or not: If McGregor wins, Khabib rematch is next
Helwani: I definitely think the UFC will explore the possibility of Nurmagomedov vs. McGregor 2 next year, if McGregor beats Poirier Jan. 23. After all, we know that was the UFC's plan/hope for 2020 before, well, you know the rest.
I mean, could you imagine if Nurmagomedov is going for 30-0 against McGregor? No joke, I think that could generate close to 3 million pay-per-view buys, which would make it the highest-selling PPV in UFC history. It would be massive, and the UFC would undoubtedly explore it. The UFC knows how big this is. But first, McGregor has to get by Poirier, which is no easy task. Poirier is a much more confident and better fighter than the one McGregor beat over six years ago.
McGregor's journey: Success, controversy, star power
UFC president Dana White remembers the first time he heard the name Conor McGregor, a name that would forever change the promotion.
White was in Dublin to receive an award from Trinity College in 2013 when he invited UFC fans on Twitter to join him at a nearby pub after the ceremony. Drinks would be covered by the UFC president.
It was that night, Feb. 11, when he first heard a name that would become the most talked about in UFC history.
"The place was packed, full of people," White said. "I was in there with the fans all night, and everybody kept talking about Conor McGregor."
Sept. 27, 2014: The first time they fought
Conor McGregor (16-2) made quick work of another UFC featherweight, knocking out Dustin Poirier with a grazing left hand at 1:46 of the first round.
There was some controversy over whether McGregor hit Poirier (16-4) in the back of the head with his elbow as he followed through, but referee Herb Dean made no such signal, and Bob Bennett, Nevada State Athletic Commission executive director, told ESPN.com the elbow landed to a legal area of Poirier's head.
"He caught me with one, but other than that I feel good. I'll have to go watch it back, but it felt great," McGregor said.
"I'm honored to hear a percentage of the tickets were bought in Ireland and my countrymen came to support me. When one of us go to war, we all go to war. Our countrymen have been fighting our whole lives. This is where we come from."
-- Brett Okamoto
What they're saying
Conor McGregor: Let's do it for them, Let's do it.— ESPN MMA (@espnmma) January 22, 2021
Dustin Poirier: We will. I guarantee it.@TheNotoriousMMA and @DustinPoirier plan to put on a show for the fans at #UFC257 😤 (via @ufc) pic.twitter.com/wXpbI6yUTH
The competitive fire is still there, but so is the respect.@TheNotoriousMMA and @DustinPoirier will share the Octagon, some hot sauce, and a vision for the donation discussed back in October. #UFC257 pic.twitter.com/mI8FBmzHvu— ESPN MMA (@espnmma) January 21, 2021
"He is more confident than I've seen in a long time and it ain't a put on.... Dustin Poirier is ready to fight."@dc_mma spoke to @DustinPoirier on Monday and believes the Diamond is "ready to go" for #UFC257 💎 pic.twitter.com/ngM2cWlXms— ESPN MMA (@espnmma) January 18, 2021
"I'm sure the internet's gonna get so mad at me saying this... I think that Conor McGregor is one of the most underrated fighters in the history of the sport."@arielhelwani believes McGregor "does not get the credit he deserves" for his skills. #UFC257 pic.twitter.com/1Zw74Tgvsj— ESPN MMA (@espnmma) January 18, 2021
I promise a masterpiece.— Conor McGregor (@TheNotoriousMMA) January 5, 2021
How Poirier can avoid McGregor's counters
On Unlocking Victory, Gilbert Melendez displays how Dustin Poirier can avoid Conor McGregor's counter left hand.
Breaking down McGregor's first win vs. Poirier
On Unlocking Victory, Dominick Cruz breaks down how Conor McGregor set up his knockout win vs. Dustin Poirier in 2014.
Conor McGregor on UFC 257, future in the UFC
Ariel Helwani sits down with Conor McGregor to talk about his 2020, his fight with Dustin Poirier and his future with the UFC.
McGregor is happy with his relationship with Dana White
Conor McGregor says everything is in the past and he's in a great place with Dana White. He also gives him credit for how he navigated 2020.
McGregor would prefer a long bout over a 60-second knockout vs. Poirier
Conor McGregor breaks down his strategy going into his fight with Dustin Poirier and whether he would prefer a long drag out over a quick knockout.
Dana White: There's nothing more exciting than a motivated Conor McGregor
UFC president Dana White compares Conor McGregor to when he fought Dustin Poirier the first time and discusses how "The Notorious" is motivated for a big 2021.
Get ready for the return of Conor McGregor
Take a look at the moments inside and outside the cage that made Conor McGregor the biggest name in the UFC.
Poirier says loss to McGregor changed his perspective, made him stronger
Dustin Poirier explains how after his loss to Conor McGregor in 2014, he began to change his perspective on fighting and that made him happier overall in life.
Flashback: Conor McGregor's first ESPN interview
Go back to August 2014 when Conor McGregor hyped up his fight vs. Dustin Poirier and proclaimed that he was going to take over the sport.
McGregor's strong fan base impacting betting line vs. Poirier
Doug Kezirian explains why Conor McGregor's fans placing a wave of bets on him to beat Dustin Poirier is impacting the odds.