Conor McGregor's last opponent before UFC backs him for title with Khabib retired but tips Dustin Poirier in trilogy

THE last man Conor McGregor fought before joining the UFC has backed him to become champion again – but only after losing to Dustin Poirier.

McGregor has not held gold since beating Eddie Alvarez in 2016, becoming the first to reign two UFC divisions at the same time.

He achieved the same feat four years prior in Cage Warriors, where he left as featherweight and lightweight king.

McGregor, 32, departed for the big time after knocking out Ivan Buchinger, 35, who had to get his shift at a warehouse swapped for the fight.

Buchinger is confident his ex-opponent can reach the same heights that made his the UFC's greatest star, helped now Khabib Nurmagomedov is retired.

He told SunSport: "He has achieved everything by now.

"But it depends how he is set up mentally. I f he still has the fight instinct then I think he can still do further.

"And also there's no Khabib anymore, so he has a great chance to become a champion again."

McGregor was beaten by arch rival Nurmagomedov in 2018, in a grudge match which sold a UFC record 2.4million pay-per-views.

He campaigned for a rematch, but his hopes were dashed after Khabib hung up his gloves in October.


The unbeaten legend did so after beating Justin Gaethje, 32, the first fight after the death of his father and mentor Abdulmanap.

And after McGregor was knocked out by Poirier in January, Nurmagomedov was not convinced to return for a rematch with his great nemesis.

The Notorious, who beat Poirier in the first round of their fight in 2014, is now set for a trilogy decider on Saturday in the UFC 264 headliner.

And despite tipping McGregor for the title again, Buchinger believes if Poirier can again survive the opening round, he will walk away the winner.

He said: "It's very difficult as they know each other very well by now.

"A third match is even more difficult to say how is going to win.

"If Conor is not going to switch Dustin off in first round than I personally think Dustin is going to win. The First round is very important to Conor."

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