Conor McGregor and Dustin Poirier headline UFC 257 on Sunday – the high-profile lightweights’ second showdown of their careers. WILL EVANS runs the rule over ‘Mystic Mac’s’ vow to finish his opponent inside a minute.

‘Mystic Mac’ predicts another quick finish

After rescinding another retirement, Conor McGregor ends a 12-month hiatus from the Octagon with his second career fight against Dustin Poirier at UFC 257. He’s a red-hot $1.37 favourite to emerge victorious in Abu Dhabi.

McGregor was less than 18 months into his UFC tenure when he met the longer-serving Poirier at UFC 178 in 2014. The then-topknotted Irishman’s burgeoning reputation as an MMA superstar went up another notch when he defeated Poirier by TKO. A flurry a brutal punches stopped the bout less than two minutes in and earned a Performance of the Night nod.

“I said I would knock him out in the first round, and I knocked him out in the first round. You can call me Mystic Mac, because I predict these tings,” McGregor said afterwards. The nickname stuck, with his pre-bout premonitions regularly coming true.

Ominously, McGregor has forecast an even faster end for Poirier this time around – inside 60 seconds. For punters eager to jump on ‘Mystic Mac’s’ prophesising, there’s a juicy $3.50 on offer for a McGregor Round 1 victory by KO/TKO.

McGregor a first-round specialist

McGregor boasts a 22-4 career record, with 19 knockout victories. He likes to get the job done early, with 14 of those KO/TKO results achieved in Round 1 – including five of his 10 wins under the UFC banner.

After more than a year out of action, ‘The Notorious’ returned in January last year against Donald Cerrone at UFC 246. He needed just 40 seconds to put ‘Cowboy’s’ lights out with a head kick and punches. It rated among McGregor’s most savage and emphatic wins.

Besides Poirier and Cerrone, McGregor’s first-round victims include Jose Aldo – who succumbed just 13 seconds into their UFC 194 showdown in 2015.

All four of McGregor’s career losses came by submission.

Ring-time favours Poirier

On the score of recent fights, $3.12 underdog Poirier holds a decisive edge. McGregor has had just one bout since October 2018; Poirier has fought three times since April 2019.

The 31-year-old – who has a 26-6 career record with 12 knockout wins – bookended his September 2019 loss to Khabib Nurmagomedov for the UFC Lightweight Championship with unanimous decision victories over Max Holloway (for the Interim UFC Lightweight Championship) and Dan Hooker. His Fight of the Night against ‘Hangman’ Hooker – one of the UFC’s best of recent times – was in June 2020.

These familiar foes have several former opponents in common. McGregor’s second-last fight was also against Nurmagomedov, also losing by submission in a bout that was infamously overshadowed by chaotic incidents in the lead-up and immediately after the match.

McGregor claimed a unanimous decision (one of just two in his career) over Holloway in 2013. Both count a Round 2 TKO of Eddie Alvarez on their résumé – McGregor in 2016 and Poirier in 2016.

Poirier’s credentials can’t be questioned; he’s one of the division’s most accomplished fighters of the past decade. But McGregor can move closer to a UFC Lightweight Championship shot with a comprehensive win – and plenty of fight fans will be backing him in to take care of business in Round 1.

BET ON CONOR McGREGOR V DUSTIN POIRIER AT UFC 257: