Incredible story behind Conor McGregor and Dustin Poirier's intense rivalry ahead of UFC 257 that dates back near decade

THE once-ferocious featherweight rivalry between Conor McGregor and Dustin Poirier will resume this weekend in Abu Dhabi.

But unlike the build-up to their featherweight showdown six years ago, the pair are on much better terms.

The lightweight standouts will do battle again this weekend in the main event of UFC 257, which will close out the promotion's third stint on 'Fight Island.'

A cocksure and divisive McGregor got the better of Poirier in their first meeting at UFC 178, knocking him out in just under two minutes.

But before the duo traded blows, they were embroiled in a long-running game of mental warfare.

And during the UFC 178 fan Q&A in August 2014, McGregor showcased his ability to get into his opponents' head for the first time.

The abrasive but captivating McGregor said: "Don't get me wrong, I like the kid. He's a quiet little hillbilly. I have nothing against the guy.

"I'm sure he grew up in a circus or a fair, he's a nice little kid. His cousin's probably named Cletus or something."

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Louisiana's Poirier tried his best to remain calm and composed.

But it was clear from his responses that McGregor's pre-fight antics and digswere starting to have an affect.

As much as he tried to hide it, the Irishman's words had clearly riled him. And they well and truly set the tone for their meetings thereafter.

During the UFC 178 media day staredowns the following month, Poirier was the most aggressive we've ever seen him.

UFC president Dana White had to stop an enraged Poirier from ploughing into the cool, calm and collected McGregor, who couldn't help but laugh at how angry The Diamond was.

An even tenser face-off took place during the weigh-ins a few days later, with White again having to play the role of bouncer.

But this time, Poirier was even more irate than before.

Perhaps it was the slew of Irish fans in attendance at Las Vegas' MGM Grand Conference Center that contributed to his furious demeanour.

Or maybe it was the countless pundits tipping him to lose to the cocky upstart from Dublin, who he, like many others, believed was being fast-tracked.

Either way, his head was gone. The moment, and more importantly, McGregor had consumed him.

And one could even make the argument the fight was lost in that very moment.

A few days removed from the devastating loss, Poirier was quick to give McGregor his props, but admitted: "I'm truly heartbroken."

The loss was undoubtedly a huge turning point in Poirier's career, with the setback prompting a move up to lightweight – where he's flourished.

It also marked a change in his relationship with McGregor, which went from that of sworn enemy to cordial adversary.

And it was that cordiality that laid the seed for their meeting at UFC 257.

Poirier vs McGregor II came to fruition on the back of the pair agreeing to fight one another for charity – an agreement which shows just how far the once fierce rivals have come.

In fact, McGregor is planning to make to make hefty donation to Poirier's Good Fight Foundation.

Back in 2014, no one could have ever imagined these two would be on such good terms.

But their now amicable relationship is a sign of just how much they've grown as men as well as fighters.

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