Next month, Conor McGregor takes on Nate Diaz in a rematch of their UFC 196 fight.
It comes nearly two years after McGregor won his fourth fight in the UFC against Dustin Poirier.
By the time McGregor stepped into the octagon to face Poirier, his schtick was well established. Everyone knew of his trash-talking, or as he would call it 'truth-telling'. His words undoubtedly expedited his journey to the upper echelons of the UFC. Had he been less brash, McGregor's title chance against Jose Aldo would not have come as quickly. The trash-talking's effectiveness in that respect is undoubted.
What was in doubt though was the effect which it had on his opponents.
In an interview with Flocombat.com, Poirier gave a little insight into how McGregor's mind game affected him at UFC 178.
I’ve always been an emotional fighter and that emotion fueled a lot of my early performances. I would get angry because I’m about to step in there and go toe-to-toe with someone who is trying to hurt me just like I intend to hurt them, and that energy shifts gears into that kill or be killed mindset.
I always saw it as a plus but the Conor [McGregor] fight was the turning point. I remember I was backstage getting ready to walk out and I saw him and he threw this smile and pointed at me. I don’t know why but it really got to me, man. It really messed with my head. I mean I’m about to go out and fight this dude and he’s back there smiling at me? After that fight I knew I had to find a different way to use my emotion.
Poirier lasted less than two minutes in the Octagon against McGregor that night.
Like Poirier said, the McGregor fight was undoubtedly a turning point in his career - he hasn't lost since.
Picture credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie / SPORTSFILE