UFC 264: Conor McGregor claims mind was on Manny Pacquiao before UFC 257 and Poirier rematch

Jan 23, 2021; Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates; Dustin Poirier reacts after his knockout victory over Conor McGregor of Ireland in a lightweight fight during the UFC 257 event inside Etihad Arena on UFC Fight Island. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Bottari/Handout Photo via USA TODAY Sports

Plans for a bout with boxing legend Manny Pacquiao was Conor McGregor’s central focus before he was knocked out by Dustin Poirier in January at UFC 257.

Conor McGregor talks misguided focus before Poirier rematch

McGregor said Thursday in an interview with ESPN commentator Stephen A. Smith that he “pitied” Poirier in their January fight, and wasn’t focused enough on the bout because he was counting potential earnings for a fight with the 42-year-old Filipino superstar.

“I pitied the man,” McGregor said. “I was looking past him. I had a Manny Pacquiao camp in place.”

Poirier was a massive underdog but won by technical knockout to set up their main event trilogy fight at UFC 264 on Saturday night in Las Vegas, Nevada. The winner of the matchup is expected to receive a title shot against new lightweight champion Charles Oliveira next.

Oddsmakers are tilting toward Poirier this week, moving from an essential pick-em scenario to installing McGregor as the underdog at +110. Poirier is the favorite at -130.

‘Notorious’ expects to be a ‘dangerous’ man slinging ‘mortar shots’ at UFC 264

McGregor is fighting twice in a calendar year for the first time since 2016 and has been active the last few weeks as he’s posted images and videos of his training in the lead-up to the fight.

“I’m the most dangerous I’ve ever been, I’m the most focused I’ve ever been,” McGregor told Rolling Stone in a separate interview. “And I’m going to take him out. He won’t have any way to deal with what I’m bringing on Saturday, and that’s it.”

McGregor said he put his hard hat back on for the main event at T-Mobile Arena. He claimed to be going for points, not knockouts or finishes, in the duos previous meeting.

“I am a nice guy,” he said. “It’s just about not translating it into the game. You can’t be nice in this business. No matter what. In the most ruthless business of all, I am the most ruthless.

“I’m coming in to kill this man,” McGregor said in the ESPN interview. “I’m coming in with vicious intent here. Mortar shots. What else can I say? That’s the way it is. I’m looking to take this man out cold.”

–Field Level Media