3*Conor McGregor -125/-105
Smartz any chance you will post your analysis for your selections on this Saturday’s huge UFC card?
(74" Reach) vs Dustin Poirier (72" reach)
Current line: McGregor +105
Writeup from 2nd bout
I expect a similar high intensity fight for McGregor/Poirier. Except from a skill and power perspective, I think Conor is far superior. People forget how elite and powerful of a striker Conor is after his fights with Diaz and Khabib. Diaz is a zombie (survived 3 knockdowns in their last fight) that has a unique ability to just eat shots in hopes of you wearing down and beating you late. Khabib is just Khabib and Conor is the only one imo who has made it a real fight with him. However, it is hard to back Conor in a 5 round fight because of his cardio issues. Conor is an uber high energy starter. Uses loads of energy to maintain distance defensively and land big combos offensively. But this fighting style saps energy quick. If Poirier can weather the storm, I think he has a clear cardio/output advantage in rounds 3-5. Rewatching their fight in 2014, it's clear whos strikes carry more weight. I understand it was 6 years ago, but I have a hard time believing the power differential has changed. The play is based on my expectation that Conor finishes the fight in the first 2 rounds if he wins and laying -116 on the total is far more appealing than laying -240 on Conor. (Conor now up to -340 since writing this)
If you strip away the outcome of the 2nd fight and analyze what occurred, there was not a whole lot that Poirier did very effectively aside from calf kicks. McGregor clearly took the 1st round, outlanding Poirier 38-22 (all 3 judges agreed). However, he did absorb quite a bit of damage to that lead leg, which proved to be crucial in the round to come. We all know what eventually transpired. For me a few things come to mind. How often do calf kicks debilitate the opponent? Pretty rare. Not to say they aren't damaging, they clearly are. It has become the most spammed offensive attack in MMA for good reason. But to get the effect Poirier got is not common and most likely a freak occurrence. Especially from a guy who is not known as being an overly effective kicker compared to the likes of someone like Gaethje or Barboza. Second, Conor read the leg kicks well. You can see he angled the shin outward with many oncoming kicks but was not getting the desired effect. Conor seemed puzzled in post fight interviews about why the checks were so ineffective. Poirier commented multiple times that Conor was not angling his leg properly and he was still making contact with the fleshy bits of the shin. Lastly, Conors boxing heavy stance made him ripe for the picking with these types of kicks. A great read by Poirier and he implemented the kicks effectively. Is this something that can be overcome from Conor? I think undoubtedly yes. Conor is an uber athletic striker and on his rise to stardom used much more a karate type stance (link below) that allowed him to dart in and out of range. Being lighter on the lead leg not only allows him to evade more quickly but it puts alot less weight on the leg and limits the effectiveness of the strike if it lands. The fact that he was reading the kicks well and can easily adopt a stance he has used for his entire career gives me the feeling that calf kicks probably won't be a big factor in this one. Why did he go boxing heavy? Rumors have swirled that he was overlooking Poirier and was training for Pacquiao. Both of which make sense to me, but I obviously couldn't tell you with 100% certainty. Could also be that he instituted a more flat footed approach to spare the gas tank for later rounds. Whatever the reason, with how unsuccessful he was, I have a hard time seeing him going back to the boxing heavy approach.
One big takeaway from his rematch with Diaz, is Conor is willing and fully capable to adopting a new strategy. In the Diaz 2 fight, he implemented better distance control and was heavy on the leg kick offensive to counter Diaz's boxing heavy approach. Reviewing the tape of Conor/Poirier 2, you're left wondering where are the kicks? Conor handcuffed himself and didn't use any of his other tools. For example, his front kick is a weapon. It not only maintains distance effectively but it forces his opponents to be honest with their defense. You can't shell up for headshots when your torso is getting lit up. His approach was far too predictable for a fighter of Poirier's caliber. The fight with Diaz got close late despite the early offensive onslaught because his cardio issues reared their ugly head as we got deeper into the fight. That I don't see changing. if the fight goes deeper, Poirier will gain some significant advantages with his cardio/durability.
Again I see Conor as being the far superior striker if he uses all of his tools effectively and doesn't pigeon hole himself as a boxer. I think there is considerable value on Conor as well as he was priced in the -300 range last bout and is now a short pooch. I personally think the appropriate price is closer to -180/-200. But if this fight gets to round 3, I will most likely be hedging via live bets on Dustin. If all goes as planned you should be able to get Poirier at a more affordable price by then as well. In summary, I see Conor making alot of adjustments this time around. Allowing him to maximize his strengths and end the fight via round 2 TKO.