How McGregor and Poirier's respectful rivalry turned sinister

Conor McGregor and Dustin Poirier’s respectful feud turned sinister after the American called his opponent out over THAT $500,000 donation… now on fight week, the rivalry has a nasty edge

  • Conor McGregor and Dustin Poirier will settle their feud on July 10 in Las Vegas
  • They’ve claimed one victory each and have enjoyed a largely respectful rivalry
  • But things changed when Poirier accused McGregor of not paying a donation
  • McGregor was so angry that he called the fight off before deciding to go ahead
  • Now their feud has a bitter feeling as they approach the third and final chapter 

At a time when trash talking and bluster surrounds any big UFC fight, it is rare to see two of the sport’s biggest stars so complimentary and respectful of each other’s ability.

It was perhaps more surprising to see Conor McGregor as one of those fighters but the Irishman was full of praise for Dustin Poirier after the American stunned him back in January.

‘I’m gutted, it’s a tough one to swallow,’ said McGregor after that chastening round two defeat on Abu Dhabi’s Fight Island.

Dustin Poirier and Conor McGregor were respectful rivals with their records at one win each

Poirier after the American stunned him back in January, claiming a knockout win in Abu Dhabi

‘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. I need activity, you don’t get away with being inactive in this business.’

With their personal record now stood at one victory apiece following Poirier’s win, it was inevitable that there would be a third, deciding encounter.

But what wasn’t expected was that one of the UFC’s most respectful rivalries would turn into such a hostile relationship.

McGregor will take on the American in the early hours of Sunday morning in front of a full house at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.

But the fight was briefly on the rocks in April when Poirier publicly accused McGregor of ‘ghosting’ him and failing to deliver on a huge $500,000 (£355,000) donation that was promised to his donation.   

Their rivalry exploded when Poirier accused McGregor of not paying a charitable donation 

McGregor responded furiously and cancelled their fight fight, calling his rival a ‘inbred hillbilly’

The Irishman’s offer to give $500,000 to the Good Fight Foundation, which has built water wells for a Ugandan orphanage and school, a playground for special needs children, and, most recently, provided transportation and tutoring for struggling youth through The Boys & Girls Club of Acadiana, was one of the key reasons why Poirier had agreed to a trilogy fight.

The UFC star’s donation was reportedly set to go towards Poirier’s plan to build a gym in his hometown of Lafayette, where he would offer free training to youth in the area. 

But McGregor did not take well to being called out in public.

The Irishman hit back, insisting that his team undertake their ‘due diligence’ to know what his donation will be put towards ‘dot to dot’ in a bid to explain the $500,000 no-show.

He went further, unleashing a tirade of abuse that ended the goodwill that had built up over the pair in recent years.

He added: ‘You’re ripped you inbred hillbilly. Why do you wink with your ears? You f***ing brain dead hillbilly. 500k with no plan in place. Ye hang tight. Fool. You must be new to money. 

‘The fight is off btw. I’m going to fight someone else on the 10th. Good luck on your old contract kid.’

The pair are finally set to complete their trilogy on Saturday night in Las Vegas, Nevada 

Just like that McGregor called the trilogy fight off. Whether it was a serious decision to not fight Poirier remains to be seen but the move worked in terms of bringing a nasty side to a rivalry that seemed respectful on the surface.

In the aftermath, Poirier expressed regret that he took his grievance public but insisted he ‘didn’t say anything untrue’. He also issued an apology online. 

It read: ‘I am very passionate about my charity as you all know.

‘I jumped the gun and took my private matters between Conor and my foundation public. My mistake, we live, we learn. Spreading positivity and doing good is my goal.

‘I feel like I have brought a negative energy and personal opinions into something I am working so hard on that gives people a reason to cheer and smile.

‘I will take this in stride and continue to fight the good fight! New goal coming soon and it is a big one. Thank you to all who is involved and all the supporters who believe in our vision.’ 

McGregor recently taunted trilogy fight opponent Poirier with some customised sun glasses

The glasses contained an image of McGregor (right) beating Poirier (left) in UFC 178 in 2014

McGregor – never one to let somebody off the hook easily – responded by making a $500,000 donation to a charity in Poirier’s Louisiana home town – but not to his rivals’ own foundation.

A few days passed, tempers cooled and Dana White, much to his relief, got the fight back on track and set a date of July 10 in Las Vegas with a crowd of 20,000 fans.

The antics have not stopped since, however.   

McGregor continued to stir the pot by tweeting an image of himself wearing sun glasses with a photograph of their 2014 encounter in the lens – which he won after just one minute and 46 seconds.

Indeed, it won’t have riled Poirier up, but the war of words have certainly continued.  

Speaking to ESPN in the build-up to the fight, Poirier acknowledged he will be coming up against a ‘dangerous’ McGregor who is putting everything on the line. But he also insisted he wants to make the fight a war rather than tactical, in a style he believes he would win every time. 

‘If I was him, I would try to touch me early and keep me out of rhythm,’he said.

‘Because if this thing starts to blossom into a fight, second, third, fourth, we start hurting in there, we start grinding it out, getting into a rhythm, I win that ten out of ten times.

‘I want a blood and guts war, I want to question my will to fight, I want to be uncomfortable from the first second of the first round, I want to find out all this stuff.’

McGregor sent a word of warning in Poirier’s direction with under two weeks until the fight

Meanwhile, McGregor has blasted Poirier’s claims of being the best boxer in the UFC, sending a stern warning in his opposition’s direction. 

‘Best boxer, my a**!’ McGregor said. ‘Shooting a**, shelling a** b****.

‘Quick take for you and your team pal – You got pucked around in the clinch! Elbows, knees, shoulders, fists. Looking outside the cage for advice.’

He also said: ‘Three fights against me for any man is an early grave. God bless.’ 

McGregor and Poirier’s relationship was possibly too respectful for such a savage sport and now they’re bitter enemies, the third fight promises to have an edge that the previous two were missing.

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