Conor McGregor's five keys to victory in UFC 257 rematch with Dustin Poirier on Fight Island

Conor McGregor's five keys to victory in UFC 257 rematch with Dustin Poirier on Fight Island

CONOR McGREGOR will make his long-awaited return to the octagon this weekend, closing out the UFC's latest 'Fight Island' run.

The Notorious will be welcomed back to the cage on Saturday night by former featherweight rival Dustin Poirier, who he'll meet in the main event of UFC 257 in Abu Dhabi.

McGregor won his first meeting with the American in devastating fashion six years ago, knocking him out cold in just in under two minutes.

The Irishman is planning to one-up his destruction of The Diamond, vowing to spark him inside a minute.

But will he be able to get the job done against a much-improved Poirier? And if so, how?

With those questions in mind, SunSport thought it'd only be right to break down the former two-division champion's route to victory.

Check them out below.

Keep Poirier at range

It's no secret that McGregor does his best work at range. Just take one look at his highlight reel and you'll see that most, if not all, of his stoppages have come outside of the pocket.

Although he is proficient at trading inside, McGregor's best work takes place when he's in a range where he can hit and not be hit.

Take the Eddie Alvarez fight for example, that was a masterclass in staying just outside of harm's way but being close enough to inflict devastating damage.

Poirier will look to get inside McGregor's range and make this contest a dirty boxing match, something in which he excels.

So McGregor will have to utilise his long reach with his lead arm and make use of teeps to maintain the distance he wants to operate in.

Time the Porier's blitzes

In order for Poirier to get into his ideal striking range for this fight, he'll have to close the distance. And he'll have to do it fast.

That, however, is a lot easier said than done. Just ask the previously mentioned Alvarez and future hall-of-famer Jose Aldo.

To his credit, Poirier has shown in the past that he can close the distance without leaving himself open to heavy counters.

Timing Poirier's forward presses will be key for McGregor to avoid taking punishment and, more importantly, prevent himself from being dragged into a dog fight.

Avoid or check the lead leg kicks

One possible route to victory for Poirier is taking away the mobility of McGregor, who, at times, is guilty of leaning heavily on his lead leg.

With this fight being a battle of southpaws, McGregor's lead leg (his right) is in a perfect position to receive heavy outside low kicks.

It only takes a couple of low kicks, or even one perfectly-placed calf-strike, to completely impair a fighter's movement – just ask Sean O'Malley.

So McGregor, who relies on being light on his feet, better be prepared to engage in some shin-on-shin action by checking those kicks.

Avoid being pressed up against the cage and the clinch

It's no secret that prolonged grappling exchanges, especially on the ground, take their toll on McGregor. That is the case with most fighters.

But even more so for the Dubliner, who relies on his explosiveness in the early rounds.

If Poirier can close the distance, tie McGregor up and force him into prolonged battles for dominant position, that will do wonders for his bid to exact revenge on the UFC's poster boy.

As proficient as McGregor is in grappling, he would be wise not to allow himself to be pressed up against the fence.

Avoid the championship rounds

Mystic Mac is known as one of the fastest starters in the game. You only have to look at his 40-second destruction of Donald Cerrone last January as evidence to that fact.

But that explosiveness and use of those fast-twitch muscle fibres come at a price. The price being he tends to fade in the third round.

McGregor, to his credit, showed in his UFC 202 rematch with Nate Diaz that he is capable of going the full 25 minutes. But to say he doesn't struggle in the championship rounds would be a falsehood.

Poirier, on the other hand, can easily go five hard rounds. And he will have no doubt paid more attention to increasing his aerobic capacity to test McGregor in the later rounds.

McGregor has to get the job done early or be ready to endure a long and gruelling ten minutes in the championship rounds.

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