Conor McGregor's UFC return could prove costly ahead of Manny Pacquaio bout

McGregor has his work cut out with a matchup against Poirier before an expected showdown with a boxing icon.

After a lot of back and forth, a rematch between Conor McGregor and Dustin Poirier looks to have been agreed upon for January 23, 2021, at the Cowboy Stadium in Texas.

The first fight between the pair took place in 2014, back when both men fought at featherweight and in only McGregor's fourth UFC appearance, with the Irishman taking a first round KO victory.

McGregor had first pitched the idea of a rematch to Poirier as an exhibition bout, separate from the UFC, as well as offering to donate to Poirier's The Good Fight Foundation and pay for all Poirier's expenses.

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Dana White and the UFC would later get involved, offering both men the fight in January, but McGregor's insistence on having the fight at the end of this year looked to be a sticking point in negotiations.

This caused an issue for a number of reasons, the biggest being the dates McGregor had requested already had main event title fights booked and putting him in a main event would mean having to rearrange those.

McGregor would later change his stance, accepting the UFC's January offer and suggesting the fight be held at the home of the Dallas Cowboys with a live audience.

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Poirier claimed in an interview this time that he believed McGregor was wanting this fight to prepare for a boxing match with Manny Pacquiao, with "The Notorious" confirming this in a tweet, saying: "Correct. Southpaw box style.

"[I'll] Continue to sharpen my MMA skills with some tough competition, while leading into my Manny bout preparation."

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Is there something missing in the jigsaw?

"The Diamond" and "Pac Man" only share one characteristic, the fact that they are both southpaw fighters.

The UFC will not allow any sort of gentleman's agreement between the two fighters, in which they only throw punches, and Poirier is not going to just throw punches at McGregor either in a straight MMA fight.

If Poirier delivered an upset win, he would put himself back in the UFC lightweight picture. Of course, the same could be argued for McGregor although he has already confirmed his hope of fighting Pacquiao.

In order to prepare for a boxing match with Pacquiao, McGregor must focus only on boxing. He has a fantastic boxing coach in Owen Roddy, but if he is splitting time between boxing, kickboxing and grappling ready for an MMA fight then preparation for a Pacquiao fight could prove to be a disaster.

Pacquiao is a master of his disciple, with 62 pro wins and 39 knockouts, while McGregor is 0-1 in pro boxing following his fight with Floyd Mayweather in 2017. No matter what Poirier throws at McGregor, it will not be enough to replicate Pacquiao.

With "Pacman" signed to the same management as McGregor, a fight between the pair seems destined to happen regardless of the situation - something which could prove deadly if the Filipino takes the fight seriously.

By Kieran Cobley

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