John Kavanagh believes no mind games need to be played ahead of Conor McGregor’s rematch with Dustin Poirier — they’ve already been put into place.
McGregor defeated Poirier in their first fight some years back with a quick first-round TKO win, announcing himself as a true contender in the world of mixed martial arts. For Kavanagh, the memory of that defeat will be a lot for Poirier to overcome as preparations continue ahead of the January 23 rematch.
“He’s fighting a different animal than any of [his previous opponents],” Kavanagh said. “Somebody with true one punch knockout power that he’s already felt. I think you could spend a lifetime going to sports psychologists and talking to this person and that person — that’s not going to have been erased from his mind. He knows he’s facing somebody who can shut off his lights very, very rapidly and now is a lot more powerful and a lot more experienced than he was even then.
“It’s a tough uphill battle for Dustin, but Dustin’s a phenomenal fighter, a great fighter and I know him and Conor, they’ve got certain agreements on charity things outside which is great. I think that’s what professional sports should be about anyway. But yeah, I’m really looking forward to this one.”
The more amicable dynamic between McGregor and Poirier is easy to note, particularly in contrast to McGregor’s taunting in the first fight. In Kavanagh’s mind, that sort of pre-fight trash talk is unnecessary considering the first contest’s result.
“There’s nothing to be said when you’ve really badly hurt someone like that so fast,” said Kavanagh. “It’s not like it was a decision win or some sort of argument to be made or it was a bit back and forth and Conor got a shot off, it was a bad night for Dustin. It was very one-sided and when you look at some of the shots he’s absorbed — now he’s a bigger man now, and there’s maybe some argument he can absorb more shots now but he’s fighting a bigger man as well. If you remember back to the fight, the opening hook kick just whistled by his head.. a couple of inches lower that might even have outdone the [Jose] Aldo fight.
“Look they’ve both matured physically, age-wise they’re in the thirties now with families, Dustin’s had a couple more contests than Conor has in the Octagon, but Conor’s never stopped training and has obviously had a boxing match and done other stuff. It’s interesting to see how the styles meet up this time.”