The most enigmatic figure in all of combative sports is “The Notorious” Conor McGregor and he is returning to action on Saturday at UFC 257 in a rematch with Dustin Poirier.
McGregor who has been known for his brash mouth, and tough guy swagger, has been more humbled in recent years.
He showed up to his fight with Donald Cerrone as a professional and more respectful fighter who praised his opponent before and after the fight.
Now in his rematch with Poirier he is holding the same standard of conduct, no real trash talk or bravado.
It seems McGregor is a changed man and maybe he matured after becoming a father and focusing on his family and setting a good example for his kids made him this way.
Another fighter in boxing who also once lived a wild life but unlike McGregor never trashed talked to sell his fights is Manny “Pac-Man” Pacquiao.
The 42-year-old Filipino boxing icon used to party, drink, do drugs, gamble, and womanize before he became a born again Christian and denounced all his vices and decided to stay true to his wife and family.
Pacquiao like McGregor is a huge superstar in his respective sport and the two sports icons seem likely to square off in the boxing ring should McGregor defeat Poirier on Saturday night.
The majority of the combative sports world are favoring Pacquiao to win by knockout, mainly because of the belief that if a softer puncher in Floyd Mayweather Jr. was able to stop the Irish MMA star, and take his punches then Pacquiao should do much more damage and end it quickly since he is known for his punching power and ferocity.
The only issue with that is Pacquiao hasn’t fought in over a year and he is much smaller than Mayweather.
McGregor is a very dangerous foe. Pacquiao might overlook him just because Mayweather beat him, but McGregor will not enter the ring against Pacquiao the same way he did in his boxing debut, he learned from that fight and is taking his next boxing bout very seriously.
One thing I know about McGregor is he has a very difficult style for Pacquiao.
Pacquiao has short arms and hasn’t fought a southpaw with long limbs like McGregor. Also McGregor is a counter puncher, who has a good chin and heavy hands. The McGregor that fought Mayweather admit to not taking the fight serious and living it up during training camp and throwing some very slow and sloppy punches.
Ahead of his fight at UFC 257 he said he has trimmed down and you can see it at the weigh-ins he doesn’t look drained at 155 pounds, and he could easily make 147 pounds if he remains focused.
Pacquiao could be in for a brutal surprise if age catches up to him against McGregor and he is expecting the same guy who showed up against Mayweather.
The more I study it and analyze the intangibles, I think it has the makings of a real competitive back and forth fight, and it could be risky for an aging Pacquiao especially if McGregor decides to box from the outside and counter punch.
I can see McGregor sharp shooting Pacquiao from the outside, and catching him trying to lunge in. If Pacquiao isn’t careful McGregor could knock him out in similar fashion he did Jose Aldo, and we know Pacquiao has been knocked cold rushing in face first against Juan Manuel Marquez.
Pacquiao must be very careful and not underestimate McGregor or else he could be in for a rude awakening.