The deal with McGregor makes it simple to overlook Poirier, nevertheless it takes two to combat, and his seven-figure assure tells you he’s a critical competitor and never only a dummy for McGregor to pummel.
Poirier, 32, has gained six of his final eight fights — a stretch that contains one no-contest and wins over top-echelon fighters like Justin Gaethje and the previous featherweight champion Max Holloway. Poirier misplaced to Khabib Nurmagomedov, however numerous fighters do that — together with McGregor.
In 2014, Poirier misplaced to McGregor, then a rising U.F.C. star, by first-round knockout. And in 2011, Poirier was featured in “Fightville,” a documentary inspecting the combined martial arts group in Lafayette, La.
One of his greatest U.F.C. performances got here in July 2018, when he dispatched Eddie Alvarez within the second spherical.
McGregor final fought 53 weeks in the past, blowing out Donald Cerrone in 40 seconds and establishing a possible big-money rematch towards the light-weight champion, Khabib Nurmagomedov. But then the coronavirus pandemic scrambled these plans. Nurmagomedov defeated Justin Gaethje in October and then retired instantly afterward. McGregor campaigned to return to the octagon however couldn’t line up a bout till this most important occasion towards Poirier got here collectively.
But the upside, for the U.F.C., of McGregor’s yearlong absence is that it has been capable of promote the combat as a comeback. And the U.F.C. is paying McGregor and Poirier as if their most important occasion is a special day.
Last yr, McGregor earned a $3 million assure for routing Cerrone, who was assured $200,000. This weekend, McGregor (22-4) will earn a minimal $5 million, while Poirier (26-6, 1 no-contest) is assured $1 million. Those figures don’t embrace efficiency bonuses or the share of pay-per-view income headliners sometimes obtain.
But the numbers inform you how severely the U.F.C. is taking the occasion — its first pay-per-view card in 2021 — and the way a lot it values the viewers McGregor attracts for so long as it may be sustained.
The light-weight contender Michael Chandler will make his U.F.C. debut when he faces New Zealand’s Dan Hooker in Saturday’s co-main occasion, however he’s not a rookie. Chandler has a 21-5 report and a status as a talented wrestler and a flexible combined martial arts fighter.
Last yr, he signed with the U.F.C. after a decade with the rival promoter Bellator. In October, he served as an understudy for the primary occasion between Nurmagomedov and Gaethje.
He educated as if he have been going to combat and even weighed in on the 155-pound light-weight restrict, so he might fill in instantly if some last-minute disaster sidelined both headliner.