If Dustin Poirier loses to Conor McGregor at UFC 264, it doesn’t appear his preparation will be to blame. That’s at least according to Jorge Masvidal, who has been in the gym often with “The Diamond” in the lead-up to Saturday’s trilogy bout, which headlines the card at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. The main card airs on pay-per-view following prelims on ESPN and ESPN+.
Masvidal (35-15 MMA, 12-8 UFC) and Poirier (27-6 MMA, 19-5 UFC) are friends and teammates at American Top Team in Florida. Masvidal said he’s seen Poirier do many training camps from close proximity, but he knew from the day he walked into the gym he was taking preparation for the McGregor (22-5 MMA, 10-3 UFC) trilogy extra seriously.
“He’s in phenomenal shape, man,” Masvidal said on the promotion’s UFC 264 betting preview show. “I’ve been there since the start of the camp. He came in in shape. He wasn’t messing around. He knew that third fight was going to happen at some point. It’s not like he went home and gave himself any slack. He came back full six-packed out, doing five rounds. Usually I see him progress and he gets better every week. He came in on fight shape on Week 1 and he’s looking phenomenal. He’s going to hurt somebody.”
Masvidal, who has been in the conversation with a fight against McGregor himself in recent years, is naturally biased toward his teammate. However, he can also be realistic when breaking down the matchup.
“Gamebred” argues it would be foolish for Poirier to stand in front of McGregor in the striking exchanges, and also pointed to the importance of avoiding early damage.
McGregor is one of the fastest starters in UFC history, but Masvidal said if Poirier can get through those sketchy early moments, the various paths to victory begin to open in his favor.
“I think Conor gets his timing better than anybody, faster than anybody,” Masvidal said. “If he can’t get his timing right away (Poirier) has to move, chop his legs, grapple and wrestle with him. Take Conor away from that, because he’s one of the best sprinters. Conor coming off the blocks – this guy is a 100-yard sprinter. He’s in your face right away landing big shots. I think Dustin is going to be more than ready for it.
“He faced him twice. He’s got a lot of strategies going into it. I think standup anyways, because he’s dealt with it on two occasions, he knows how quickly he can find his timing. I don’t think he’s going to catch him by surprise, even on the feet. But I think that’s one of Conor’s biggest strengths.”