‘The Diamond’ gained revenge for his brutal defeat by the same opponent in 2014, producing a barrage of heavy punches to force a surprise stoppage in round two of the eagerly-anticipated rematch on the UFC’s Fight Island in Abu Dhabi.
With nearly 2,000 socially-distanced fans watching on at the brand new Etihad Arena, Poirier wore down McGregor with some painful calf kicks and absorbed everything the powerful Irishman had to throw at him before unleashing a volley of thundering strikes.
McGregor was initially disorientated by a stunning right hook from his lightweight rival, who did not let up as he forced ‘The Notorious’ – fighting for the first time since destroying veteran Donald ‘Cowboy’ Cerrone inside 40 seconds 12 months ago – to the mat and the referee rightly intervened with just over two-and-a-half minutes on the clock in round two.
In the co-main event, Michael Chandler’s keenly-anticipated UFC debut proved explosive as he defeated the usually-resilient Dan Hooker inside the first round of their short-lived lightweight contest.
The former three-time Bellator world champion landed a crushing left hook to the chin and then rained down blows on his helpless opponent to swiftly finish a one-sided contest before flipping off the octagon in acrobatic fashion and passionately laying down the challenge to McGregor, Poirier and Khabib.
Meanwhile, Makhmud Muradov utilised his devastating right hand to secure a third-round stoppage against Andrew Sanchez and Scotland’s Joanne Calderwood came out on top in a tremendous encounter against flyweight rival Jessica Eye.
In the opening fight on the main card, Amanda Ribas was stunned by compatriot Michelle Rodriguez, who recovered from a difficult opening round to secure a brutal second-round stoppage against her fellow Brazilian in the women’s strawweight division.
In the feature prelim bout, Armenia’s Arman Tsarukyan claimed a comfortable decision against Matt Frevola, while Brad Tavares showcased fantastic takedown defence in his win over submission specialist Antonio Carlos Junior.
Julianna Pena called out the dominant Amanda Nunes after submitting Sara McMann with a rear naked choke and a strong final round secured a morale-boosting win for Polish light-heavyweight Marcin Prachnio against the inconsistent Khalil Rountree Jr.
In the early prelims, there were wins for Movsar Evloev and Amir Albazi against Nik Lentz and Zhalgas Zhumagulov respectively.