Love him or loath him, Conor McGregor changed MMA. He made it possible to make millions out of the sport, something that very few fighters before him achieved. Now he’s one of the most visible combat sports athletes on the planet. That’s something that other UFC fighters respect.
Fellow lightweight Dustin Poirier actually believes that his defeat to McGregor changed his career for the better. Since losing to the Irishman his records stands at 10 wins and two losses. That includes victories over current interim champion Justin Gaethje, as well as former champs Eddie Alvarez and Anthony Pettis.
Most recently, he defeated Dan Hooker in one of the fights of the year. Then he spoke to ESPN about his mindset and how he has developed as a fighter and a person.
I've a had a few UFC fighters pull me aside fight week and say something along the lines of "I might not like your boy but we should all be sending him 5%. He's changed the game for all of us." Be grateful and you'll receive more to be grateful for. https://t.co/reJZ1gnHrG
— Coach Kavanagh (@John_Kavanagh) July 2, 2020
John Kavanagh is McGregor’s longterm trainer. First of all, he said that many UFC fighters told him that McGregor changed their lives. Even if they don’t like ‘The Notorious’ they respect all that he has done for the game. In short, Kavanagh says that they should be grateful. He tweeted:
“I’ve a had a few UFC fighters pull me aside fight week and say something along the lines of “I might not like your boy but we should all be sending him 5%. He’s changed the game for all of us.” Be grateful and you’ll receive more to be grateful for.”
Poirier credits his loss to Conor McGregor as a defining moment. In sum, it helped change his mindset. After the media attention overwhelmed him and McGregor dissected him, it would have been easy to go on a downward spiral. Instead, Poirier regrouped and moved up a division where he is brilliant. McGregor even responded by tweeting, “respect.”
“It definitely started happening after the Conor McGregor loss,” Poirier told ESPN. “That was the start of it. It’s been a long process, being a father, losing again, winning some and losing again, and winning another one. It’s just a long evolution of stop caring so much. You just stop caring about the noise and stuff that doesn’t matter.
“A lot of times in my younger career, I felt like it was life or death. Every comment on Instagram and Twitter, every journalist who said something, I felt like everybody was against me. I felt like if I lost I would be written off, it’s the end of my career. I’m a bum if I lose this fight. And then you lose a few times and you’re like, ‘Oh sh*t, I can still put this back together. Oh man, I’m still providing for my family. I’m still loving what I do.'”
In short, Poirier is happy now. He is at peace with his decisions and is content with his status as a UFC fighter. ‘The Diamond’ has fought the best in the business and earned a lot of money in the meantime. Poirier also has it in him to go on another title run. He said:
“It’s like you’ve been bent but not broken a lot of times. I feel like it made me stronger and it made me the man I am today, I’m happy. I’m genuinely happy.”
You have to appreciate this because it’s difficult for fans to understand exactly what fighters go through mentally. It’s more than just turning up to train. They also have a lot of media pressure as well as financial worries and the usual domestic issues that everybody deals with.