Forecasting Conor McGregor’s performance against Dustin Poirier on Sunday morning is fraught with uncertainty.
The Irishman has fought just twice over the last 27 months – and his most recent outing lasted all of 40 seconds.
We learned little from his demolition of Donald Cerrone other than that he retains his devastating power and appetite to evolve.
The shoulder strikes which set in motion the finishing sequence showed a thirst to continue learning.
But otherwise we are left to fill in the blanks created by a frustrating year which saw McGregor’s plans for a three-fight ‘season’ disintegrate.
Speak to his team, however, and they paint a very different picture – as you might expect.
“His stats are the best they’ve ever been, that’s no word of a lie and the reason for that is consistency,” McGregor’s conditioning coach Colin Byrne told Mirror Fighting .
“After the Cowboy fight he wanted a season of fights but that didn’t happen, but he didn’t stop training so myself and Julian [Dalby] have been with him all year ready to go. When we got a fight we just ramped it up a bit, but he was always ticking over and building on his last training camp.
“The problem in MMA is that people have a fight, they stop, they do nothing, then they get back in for eight or 12 weeks, get super fit then get super unfit. It’s not good for them but it also doesn’t lend itself to building on their previous training.
“With Conor, we built on the foundations; people are saying he looks different body-wise, and that’s because we’ve been at it for five years now.
“We haven’t trained for an aesthetic, he just looks like that from training because he’s training constantly and consistently.”
Byrne welcomed McGregor to his gym on Portugal’s coast for a 10-week training camp at the end of last year.
He and Dalby – a former cyclist – devised and executed the McGregor Fast training programme which has been credited with improving their client’s cardio between the first and second fights with Nate Diaz in 2016.
And Byrne insists McGregor, now 32, has not yet peaked.
“He’s still got a way to go, he hasn’t hit the ceiling yet.” he added. “The level he’s at now is much better than he was a year ago, plus he’s brought in Phil Sutcliffe from Crumlin Boxing who has worked exclusively on his boxing and so his striking is cleaner, sharper and faster.
“His defensive boxing is much better as well, instead of just going looking for shots, he’s aware of being safe in there as well and not getting hit. That’s very well polished, his skills have improved immensely.”