Dustin Poirier hasn’t forgotten his first fight against Conor McGregor from six years ago but rather than being consumed about what went wrong that night, he prefers to think about all the ways he’s changed since then.
The easiest difference to note would be Poirier’s change in weight class after he stopped suffering in order to cut down to 145 pounds and decided to turn his full attention to the lightweight division. Since that time, Poirier has been one of the best fighters in the world while knocking off several former and future champions including Eddie Alvarez, Justin Gaethje, and Anthony Pettis.
Add to that, Poirier has put an intense focus on his offensive output and defensive counters in order to dish out the most punishment possible while taking as little damage in return.
Perhaps most important is Poirier’s mindset, which is in a completely different place now than his previous meeting with McGregor when he was fueled by anger towards the Irish superstar after engaging in a heated war of words prior to the event.
After allowing emotion to get the better of him previously, Poirier knows he’s in a much better place now than he was when facing McGregor back in 2014.
“I don’t care what anybody out here thinks anymore,” Poirier said candidly during the UFC 257 pre-fight press conference. “I used to care too much. I don’t care. That’s a superpower. Not giving a f**k. That’s it.
“I mean six years since we fought. You have to evolve to stay at the top of the division for this long. To stay in the company for this long.”
That attitude has helped transform Poirier from a serious contender to a world champion but he still operates with an underdog mentality when heading into any fight.
This time around, Poirier will be battling against the perception that McGregor already has his number following their first fight and that’s not lost on him when it comes to adding extra bulletin board material when preparing for UFC 257.
“Every fight is a chip on my shoulder,” Poirier said. “I’m trying to prove something. The work that I put in, I’m trying to make it pay off. I’m trying to put my family in a better position. This is no different.
“I know what a win over Conor McGregor means in combat sports and I know whoever wins this fight is fighting for gold and that’s why I fight.”
Poirier has made it clear that his ultimate goal in the sport is becoming a champion, especially after tasting a piece of that by winning an interim title in 2019.
As much as avenging a previous defeat to McGregor would mean to him, Poirier is resigned to the fact that ultimately a win on Saturday night will just propel him forward towards another shot at UFC gold.
“It’s obviously a huge fight but fighting for the world title is the biggest fight you can get, to me,” Poirier said. “Cause that’s the reason you fight.
“I want to be the undisputed world champion. I’m still chasing that goal and I know this fight gets me one step closer to that.”