DUSTIN POIRIER transformed into a power-punching lightweight force after barely being able to make the featherweight limit.
The American used to brutally shrink down to 145lb in his earlier days before his game-changing decision to move up in 2015.
Since then, he has lost just three times in 14 fights and even captured the interm lightweight belt in 2019 in a thriller against Max Holloway.
Most notably, Poirier has become a devastating puncher taking his knockout tally to 13 in his 27 wins.
Head trainer Mike Brown at American Top Team and boxing coach Dyah Davis have been at the forefront of the journey.
But so too has strength coach Phil Daru, a former fighter who has worked with Poirier for the past five years and 12 fights.
He helped formulate the lightweight contender's body transformation with a specific training regiment, with the rewards being reaped in the octagon.
Daru told SunSport: "I think the added strength in general has definitely helped his power.
"If we can increase his overall muscle mass and not just pure weight, his body fat obviously isn't going to generate too much power, right?
"So we want to make sure he has the strength there to do it, so that's what we've focused on over the last four and a half years.
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"But you don't want to get too strong and only worry about force, because you become slower."
Daru helps focus also on Poirier's mobility and movement, using a range of footwork and explosive drills.
The coach stopped fighting in 2013 and began working with high school college athletes.
But the same methods he used on the school students put him and Poirier off to a bad start when they began training together.
Daru revealed: "It took us a year to really warm up to each other, now he's like a brother to me. That's how it started.
"In the beginning, he actually didn't like my coaching style.
"Me coming from a football background, at that particular time I was like 25, 26-years-old and only working with high school college athletes.
"I was also working with some fighters but they were also my team-mates, so I'd push them, roaring at them, trying to get them motivated.
"Dustin, he doesn't need that. He's self-motivated and he didn't like the roaring stuff, he didn't need somebody yelling in his face.
"I found out real quick that wasn't the way you coach a Dustin Poirier."
Daru most recently helped Poirier avenge his 2014 loss to McGregor – during his dreaded featherweight days – with a rematch win in January.
He became the first man to ever KO the Irishman in the UFC, which has now set up a blockbuster trilogy bout at Saturday at UFC 264 in Las Vegas.
McGregor is famed for his power and lethal left hand, but Poirier was able to take the best of it the second time around.
And having returned the favour by putting the former two-weight champion away, Daru argues his man is actually the harder hitter.
He said: "It's hard to gage, but I think honestly he does. I'm going to be biased.
"Conor's overhand is probably his strongest punch, or his straight left, because he turns it over well and he knows how to place it properly.
"He has great precision and timing for sure and he gets it out there fast which is obviously a key part when you're talking about being able to knock people out.
"But with Dustin, he can hit you from any position, with any punch and it rocks you, like he's done with some of the toughest guys in the game."
With 32-year-olds Poirier tied with McGregor at one apiece, Daru backs his fighter to get the job done again, this time by submission.
He added: "It's hard man, but I'd like to see him with a submission victory in the second or third round.
"I'd like to see him take him deeper into the waters, touch him up a bit, still show his boxing, still show his abilities on the feet."
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