Islam Makhachev Has ‘Something Special’ Planned for Dustin Poirier at UFC 302

Makhachev plans on ending things in spectacular fashion against 'The Diamond' next month

Islam Makhachev
Courtesy of @UFCNews on X

Islam Makhachev has his sights set on two-division glory.

But before the ‘Dagestani Destroyer’ can set out on his journey for a second world title, he’ll have to handle some business in his own division first. That all begins on Saturday, June 1 when Makhachev heads to the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey for a showdown with lightweight fan favorite Dustin Poirier in the UFC 302 headliner. 

It will be Makhachev’s first time defending his 155-pound crown against an actual contender in his division after scoring back-to-back wins over former featherweight king Alexander Volkanovski

The fact that Makhachev has yet to put his strap on the line against another lightweight fighter has earned him criticism among pundits. That ultimately played a role in his decision to not give 145-pound mainstay and newly minted BMF titleholder Max Holloway an opportunity.

“Honestly, Max has a job in his division,” Makhachev said on ESPN’s Good Guy/Bad Guy with Daniel Cormier and Chael Sonnen. “I don’t want to give a chance to Max because people are still talking about me not defending my belt against the lightweight guys. I need some real contenders from my division.

“I want to clean my division and fight for the welterweight [title].”

Instead, Makhachev will square off with Poirier who is coming off a big come-from-behind win over Benoit Saint-Denis at UFC 299. ‘The Diamond’ is a mere 2-2 in his last four fights, but with both Justin Gaethje and Charles Oliveira coming up short at the promotion’s landmark event last month, it left the champ with few available options.

Should he get past Poirier, Makhachev expects that he will next face No. 1 ranked contender Arman Tsarukyan in a long-awaited rematch from 2019 before earning himself an opportunity to move up and challenge welterweight titleholder Leon Edwards

“Man, who has next?” Makhachev said. “Now, we have Poirier. After if I beat Poirier and after Arman, I don’t know. I don’t have some job in my division. I need that second belt. I think I deserve it. This is my dream to be double champion.”

Islam Makhachev Refuses to Underestimate Dustin Poirier

After fighting Alexander Volkanovski on two separate occasions, Islam Makhachev is not particularly thrilled with the idea of running it back with Arman Tsarukyan inside the Octagon — instead opting for fresh matchups rather than fights with those he’s already dispatched. 

“I don’t like the sh*t about the rematches because I already beat Volkanovski two times,” Makhachev said. “I need some new names. In a rematch, you don’t have the same motivation. For some new names, you have. It will be good on the list when I beat Poirier.”

‘The Diamond’ plans on playing spoiler in The Garden State when he cashes in his chips for a third shot at the UFC’s lightweight crown. Poirier claimed the interim title over Max Holloway in April 2019 but failed to trade it in for undisputed gold, falling to Makhachev’s mentor, Khabib Nurmagomedov, via a third-round rear-naked choke.

Two years later, he suffered the exact same fate in his second bid at the belt against Charles Oliveira at UFC 269. 

“He honestly — some people think I’m underestimating him, but this guy is so tough,” Makhachev said. “He’s a dangerous legend. He has experience and he’s the most dangerous guy in the striking. This guy has a very good guillotine, that’s why I’m training so hard (laughs).

“Understand I respect him but okay, I don’t respect his guillotine. Because I never see him finish someone in guillotine. Maybe one day, but it’s not gonna be me.”

As for how he plans to get the job done in New Jersey, Islam Makhachev believes he has a laundry list of tools he can utilize against Poirier, but he plans to bust out something truly special for his first title defense in the United States. 

“Honestly, I can do many things,” Makhachev added. “Because every time when he fights for the championship, everybody chokes him. Now I have to prepare something special. We did that in the gym and I have something special for the next fight.”

Watch the full episode below:

Published on May 10, 2024 at 12:43 pm
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