Dustin Poirier’s weakness identified ahead of Conor McGregor fight

Dustin Poirier must be wary of falling victim to his '90-second curse' when he takes on Conor McGregor at UFC 257.

That is the view of analyst Dan Hardy who identified the opening stages of Poirier's fights as his major weakness.

The American was stopped by McGregor inside two minutes of their first fight in 2014 and then again by Michael Johnson two years later.

McGregor has five first-round stoppages to his name in the UFC and has promised to stop Poirier inside 60 seconds of their rematch next weekend.

And Hardy expects the opening exchanges to be crucial.

"What you don't want is someone who is going to fold under the pressure of McGregor and we've seen that a couple of times, Diego Brandao gave his best for the first two minutes but after that the pressure of McGregor was 50 per cent of the finish, as it was for Cowboy [Cerrone]," he told Mirror Fighting .

"Unfortunately, a lot of the success of that win was robbed because it was against Cowboy. That's not being disrespectful but Cowboy is tailor-made for McGregor; he pulls himself apart psychologically and he's a slow starter.

"People expected that fight to go that way and a lot of people can see Poirier pushing McGregor as long as he can get through that first 90 seconds.

"He's honest with himself and he realises he was tense [in the first fight]. I think he would be foolish to dwell on it too much and I think one of the benefits of him moving up immediately after is he can put that to bed and say that was my 145lb career and now I'm a 155lb-er.

"I don't think psychologically it will haunt him too much but at the same time he has to be honest with himself, he is vulnerable in the first 90 seconds, he was in the Michael Johnson fight and Justin Gaethje hurt him early as well.

"That's the thing that's consistent, of all the things from the last fight, the one thing that's consistent is that for the first 90 seconds, Poirier is very, very tense and if he can get past that hurdle then immediately his confidence kicks in and he becomes a different individual because his toughness is there and he steps into range, he brings his shoulders up, he stands square and starts wading into people.

"Some fighters have a cross to bear, it's the same with Cowboy, he struggles physcologically, you can't doubt any part of his game, apart from his mentality.

"Poirier normally looks a bit tentative in those first 90 seconds, maybe that's just his character but if it is and he tries to go against it, he's even more vulnerable but if he recognises that that's who he is then he can work around it and he needs to give himself the game plan which can accommodate that part of his character."

Since losing to McGregor however, Poirier has won 10 of his 12 fights, losing only to Johnson and Khabib Nurmagomedov.

And Hardy added: "Since the last fight Dustin Poirier has established himself as one of the best lightweights in the world; he's only fallen by getting caught with a clean shot by Michael Johnson and against Khabib.

"He's a durable, tough individual and I think at 155lb he's got the muscle mass to take better shots."

BT Sport Box Office will show UFC 257: Poirier vs. McGregor 2 exclusively live from 3am on Saturday,  January 23.

UFC 257 can be watched on on BT TV, Virgin TV, Sky, online via the web or the BT Sport Box Office App and is available to buy at www.bt.com/sportboxoffice

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