“That calf kick. I’ve never experienced that, and it’s a good one.” – Those were the words of a deflated Conor McGregor after losing to Dustin Poirier in the second round of their second UFC bout. It was a victory that earned Poirier the Performance of the night bonus whilst it left McGregor questioning his next move in the sport. Although McGregor was the bookie’s favourite going into the fight and had a solid first round, by 2.32 minutes into the second, he was knocked out.
The reason for this was because of the brutal yet highly effective calf kicks that he endured from Poirier who displayed a tactical masterclass in the Octagon. In short, Poirier decided to invest in this strategy early into the fight and whilst it didn’t look visible in the first round, by the second his strategy began to pay dividends.
For those wondering, the calf kick works by chipping away at the opponent’s leg which if successful, results in damaging the leg until it cannot function correctly. In the case of Poirier, he targeted the lead leg of McGregor and aimed on the side of his calf, just below his knee. This sometimes hit his muscle and sometimes hit his bone. As time went on, the power and base slowly decayed from McGregor’s leg which resulted in Poirier capitalising in the second round. At this point, McGregor could barely stand and it was over. A similar calf-kicking masterclass was shown in the Israel Adesanya fight against Paulo Costa. Here, the Nigerian destroyed Costa’s front leg to the point of victory.
Interestingly, McGregor showed his usual quality brand of striking for the first round, landing a nice hook-kick, utilizing his shoulder strikes and defending Poirier’s wrestling takedowns. Nonetheless, the calf kicks slowly but surely started to sink in. This was evident in the press conference after the fight where McGregor needed crutches and was limping. The result gives Poirier an impressive six out of seven wins in his last fights, with his only defeat coming against the legendary Khabib Nurmagomedov. Due to his impressive strategy, the prospect of becoming the UFC Lightweight Champion draws ever closer for the American whilst it’s back to the drawing board for Conor McGregor.