Speaking on his fighting podcast, boxing coach and veteran trainer Teddy Atlas claimed that a large reason for Dustin Poirier’s victory over Conor McGregor at UFC 257 was due to winning the mental battle. Specifically, he said “80% of this game is mental. To use whatever skills you have in that Octagon in that environment of fear and danger, you have to mentally be superior. Be in control of yourself, be a master. Kicking, Jiu Jitsu on the floor, grappling, striking. He wasn’t a master 7 years ago. He wasn’t in control of his mind as he is now. He went into the first fight not in control. I’m not on about physically, I’m talking about controlling your emotions.”
He also went on to add that whilst the physical side of things was important and that Poirier was better overall, he was helped massively by his mentality on the night and leading up to it. Unlike the first time, there was no trash talk to affect him and he seemed more mature and confident in the way he carried himself.
Atlas later added “When you get to that place, you’re free. If you don’t get to that place then you’re a hostage. This time he was free. In anything you do, baseball, business, teacher – you have to be free to concentrate on what it’s about. Having a plan and executing it. Taking your emotions and putting them where they need to be and using them in the right way. He had a great plan.”
Talking of his ‘great plan‘, he further explained how the strategy of Poirier was key, noting that McGregor typically started quickly and exploded. Here, Poirer had to defend this early onslaught and pick his spots wisely. Combined with good wrestling, defensive work and chipping away with calf kicks, Poirier’s strategy was clearly on point. With this said, Atlas explained in full how mental preparation and strategy are key in high-level fighting and that no small detail should be left unturned.