There's little love lost between Dustin Poirier and three-time opponent Conor McGregor, but that's not to suggest the pair can't still hold one another in high regard.
Or at least 'The Diamond' respects McGregor as the biggest puncher he's faced inside the Octagon despite beating him twice in as many meetings earlier this year.
Poirier, 32, finished 'The Notorious' fairly when they met at UFC 257 this past January, knocking him out in the second round to gain vengeance for his own stoppage defeat nearly seven years prior.
McGregor, also 32, was then forced to stop one round into their duel at UFC 264 in July, having suffered a serious leg break that left him unable to continue.
The pair have resumed their feud after tensions temporarily appeared to have eased at the start of 2021, but Poirier still had no problem in hailing 22-6 McGregor as having the hardest hands he's come up against.
"Conor McGregor [packs the heaviest punch], no doubt about it," Poirier told Patrick Bet-David and Valuetainment.
"As the biggest puncher I've fought? Yeah, he's a special individual for sure.
"Fought him in 2014, lost, and that was on his, you know when his trajectory just sky was the limit.
"He was on his way up and he tore through everybody, became a two-weight champion."
It's a substantial compliment considering the Diamond (28-6-1NC) has also taken on the likes of Khabib Nurmagomedov, Max Holloway and Justin Gaethje to date.
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McGregor has been exposed in the grappling department at times during his career, but his striking remains some of the best in the sport, and his left hand in particular holds a reputation for knockout potential.
Despite being most widely regarded for his wrestling talents, Nurmagomedov has made massive strides in his stand-up and bested McGregor on the feet en route to a submission win at UFC 229 in 2018.
Holloway was unsuccessful making the step up from featherweight and lost to Poirier when they fought for the interim UFC lightweight title in April 2019, one year after the latter finished brawler Gaethje in the fourth round.
And those are just the most recognisable power punchers Poirier has stared down over the course of his 16-year career as a mixed martial artist.
He suffered a devastating first-round knockout defeat against Michael Johnson in September 2016, while his maiden UFC loss was also in his first main event, which came against the 'Korean Zombie' Chan Sung Jung in 2012.
That's a considerable roll call for a veteran of 26 UFC fights—12 more than McGregor—but yet it's still the Ireland native who tops the billing in regards to who packs the most power.
A new contender is set to enter that conversation at UFC 269 on December 11, when Poirier will face Charles Oliviera for the UFC lightweight championship.
It's long been speculated that the Diamond would be next in line for a title shot, and Poirier's camp recently confirmed to ESPN that the date is now cemented for his second attempt at the crown.
Oliveira, 31, has 19 submissions and nine knockout wins from 40 professional fights, having gone to the judges' scorecards only once in his last 16 fights.
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