Former two-weight world champion Conor McGregor was left stunned on his return to the UFC as Dustin Poirier claimed victory in their rematch at UFC 257.
McGregor came out of retirement for a third time to face fellow 32-year-old Poirier at Abu Dhabi’s Fight Island.
And although the Irishman edged the first round, Poirier unleashed a flurry of punches to seal a technical knockout two minutes 32 seconds into round two.
“I’m gutted, it’s a tough one to swallow,” said McGregor.
“I felt stronger than him, but his leg kicks were good. I didn’t adjust. My leg was badly compromised, I’ve never experienced those low calf kicks, and I wasn’t as comfortable as I needed to be.
“I have no excuses. It was a phenomenal performance by Dustin. I have to dust it off and come back.”
Poirier admitted McGregor had won the mind games before they stepped into the octagon for their first clash – a featherweight bout in September 2014 – and the American was stopped inside 106 seconds.
That set “the Notorious” on course for global stardom. He became the UFC’s first simultaneous two-weight champion before facing Floyd Mayweather in one of the richest bouts in boxing history in 2017.