UFC 257: The End of an Era

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(Artwork/Ava Fong’23)

Zander Zhang, Online Staff Writer

The new year has reeled in countless exciting headlines for sports, with one of the most electrifying moments yet being in the world of mixed martial arts. Saturday, January 23, in Abu Dhabi, longtime fan-favorite and former two-division world champion Conor McGregor fought former interim-champion Dustin Poirier to continue their now two-fight series. The fight was nothing short of jaw-dropping—the +200 underdog Poirier shocked the world with a second-round knockout against McGregor.
For many UFC fans, seeing Dustin Poirier obtain such a big win over McGregor was like poetic justice. After all of the trash-talking and disrespect doled out by McGregor six years ago in McGregor vs. Poirier 1, many felt as though he had finally gotten what he deserved. While Poirier was unable to overcome the adversity in his first fight against the Notorious, he was finally able to show the community that he has improved tremendously. “In all honesty, I was counting Poirier out before the fight even started, especially after Conor stopped him in the first round back in 2014,” expresses junior Albert Ming, “but in this fight, Poirier was the better fighter, and he utilized his full skill set. He’s the real deal for sure.” Ming held the same sentiment that many, if not most viewers held prior to the fight—that Poirier should not even be considered to win. But as Poirier has shown, he has grown to become a force to be reckoned with.

To other viewers of the fight, Dustin Poirier’s victory meant something different. Seeing someone as celebrated and revered as Conor McGregor get stopped in such a humbling way was heartbreaking, as it marked the end of the McGregor heydays. “McGregor had a wild ride, but everyone’s time comes to an end at some point, and Poirier came up on top,” voices junior Chris Babecki. Many have also noted that the Conor McGregor they saw at UFC 257 was not the same Conor they knew in past years. McGregor seemed to have undergone an attitude change, leaving his iconic pride and flippant mannerisms behind and replacing them with respect and honor for his opponent. Although it is refreshing to see a new and toned-down Conor McGregor, the reality remains that the reason why he has been loved by fans for so long is his iconic personality. Without it, McGregor lacks a certain air that enthralls both his opponents and his fans.

Sadly, in retrospect, Conor McGregor’s loss begins to seem less and less surprising. It was vaguely reminiscent of the Tony Ferguson vs. Charles Oliveira fight back in December at UFC 256, in which the favorited UFC veteran Ferguson tragically lost. The old fan-favorites such as McGregor and Ferguson seem to be following a trend of losing to opponents they could have beaten in their prime. Although these fighters are still among the best of the best, it seems as if their era is coming to an end—fans now witness the decline of the old greats.

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