The mutual respect that once existed between Conor McGregor and Dustin Poirier appears very much consigned to history as the duo continue to build up to their eagerly anticipated trilogy fight at UFC 264 this weekend.
The pair will lock horns inside the octagon for the third time at Las Vegas’ T-Mobile Arena on Saturday night, six months after Poirier produced a stunning second-round stoppage victory in their second encounter at UFC 257 in Abu Dhabi in January.
The build-up to that previous lightweight contest - which occurred more than six years after McGregor’s emphatic featherweight win inside 106 seconds at UFC 178 in September 2014 - involved a far calmer approach from the Dubliner, with plenty of respect shown between the pair.
However, their rivalry has only gone dramatically downhill from there, with a row over McGregor’s proposed $500,000 donation to Poirier’s Good Fight Foundation originally putting a trilogy bout - the winner of which is expected to face Brazilian Charles Oliveira for the lightweight title later this year - in serious jeopardy.
After plenty of social media barbs over recent months, the war of words escalated further on Thursday night, when McGregor gave a more characteristically outrageous performance at the final pre-fight press conference in front of a raucous crowd, even attempting to land a kick on his opponent during the tense last staredown.
“I’m going to go through his head, put holes in him and take it off his shoulders, that’s the goal here,” McGregor said earlier.
“He’s done here, this is it for him, this is the end of the road.
“It’s on, Saturday night he’s getting walked around that octagon like a dog and put to sleep.”
Continuing the trash talk, McGregor also said: “He’s not in the same stratosphere as me. The man looks disgraceful up here. He looks frail at this weight now. The weight cut is getting to him. He’s going out on a stretcher in this fight.
“My mindset is I’m back on the building sites with a hard hat and two hammers in my hands. That’s my mindset. I’m not relishing in my past accomplishments. I’m back.”
McGregor also compared Poirier’s win over him in January to Buster Douglas’ shock defeat of dominant boxing world heavyweight champion Mike Tyson in February 1990 - one of the biggest upsets in sporting history.
Douglas only held the title for a total of eight months before being knocked out by Evander Holyfield during his first and only defence later that year.
“He’s Buster Douglas,” McGregor said of Poirier. “It was a fluke win, and I’m going to correct it on Saturday night.”