Dustin Poirier makes bold prediction for Islam Makhachev fight at UFC 302


Dustin Poirier isn’t leaving it in the hands of the judges when he fights Islam Makhachev.

“The Diamond” is set to take on the reigning lightweight champion—and MMA Fighting’s No. 1 Pound-for-Pound fighter—in the main event of UFC 302 in Newark, N.J., on June 1. This is Poirier’s third crack at undisputed gold after previously falling short against Khabib Nurmagomedov and Charles Oliveira.

Makhachev, a protege of the Nurmagomedov family, has spoken about his confidence in defeating Poirier. Unsurprisingly, Poirier has a different take on the matchup.

“I’m going to knock him unconscious and the ref is going to be pulling me off of him,” Poirier told Yahoo! Sports.

Poirier hasn’t gone the distance in almost four years, so in all likelihood he and Makhachev are both correct that whoever has their hand raised on fight night, it won’t have anything to do with the scorecards. Since his most recent decision, Poirier has scored finishes of Conor McGregor, Michael Chandler, and Benoit Saint Denis.

Much has been made of Poirier’s fixation on the guillotine choke, a submission technique that he has attempted several times in his illustrious career but never actually won a fight with. Poirier has been known to go for the maneuver even though it could lead to him ending up in a disadvantageous position. He said that his coach Mike Brown has cautioned him against utilizing the risky attack.

“Don’t give up position,” Poirier said. “That’s the record on repeat. Don’t go for it even if you think it’s getting tight or you have a good feel for it, don’t give up position. Especially for a guy like Islam. You give up position, you might be trying to get back to your feet for the rest of the round and losing the round, or putting yourself in deeper water and getting into a worse, dangerous position.

“So I have to play it and feel how I feel in there, see how I feel in there, in those positions. But I’ll probably jump it.”

Jokes aside, Poirier is well aware of the challenge he has ahead of him.

Makhachev has often been compared to Nurmagomedov, who dispatched Poirier by submission back in 2019. Given the similarities of their styles, there’s good reason to think that Poirier goes 0-3 in undisputed title challenges.

So not only is Poirier chasing lightweight gold again, he also gets a second chance to defeat the consensus best fighter on the planet.

“He’s a good competitor,” Poirier said. “Those guys coming out of Dagestan, that whole team, they compete hard. They stick to the game plan. They’re very strict on the way they move and I don’t see a whole lot of holes, honestly. If I’m sitting here watching footage with my coaches, we’re watching and looking at things, he has good standup. Obviously, his wrestling is good. Really good bodylocks—not traditional wrestling—really good bodylocks, sweeps, trips, things like that. Seems really strong for the weight class, very dominant on top, seems very heavy.

“It’s exactly what it is. I’m fighting the No. 1 pound-for-pound guy.”


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