Islam Makhachev Explains Why He Turned Down UFC 300 Headliner, Calls for Title Fight with Dustin Poirier This Summer

Makhachev revealed why he chose to turn down a fight with Leon Edwards at UFC 300

Islam Makhachev
Courtesy of @UFCNews on X

Islam Makhachev turned down the opportunity to headline one of the biggest cards in UFC history.

On Saturday, April 13, the promotion will return to T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas for UFC 300 — an event slated to feature 12 current or former world champions. In the main event of the evening, reigning light heavyweight titleholder Alex Pereira puts his belt on the line against the division’s former top dog, Jamahal Hill.

But before ‘Poatan’ was scheduled to close the show with Hill, a slew of UFC stars were rumored to step into the featured fight of the night, including Israel Adesanya, Khamzat Chimaev, and heavyweight king Jon ‘Bones’ Jones. Also among those names is current lightweight champ Islam Makhachev, who recently revealed that the promotion had offered him a shot at Leon Edwards’ welterweight gold.  

“Honestly, yes, but it’s not possible, man,” Makhachev said when asked if he was offered the spot during an interview with MMA Junkie’s Mike Bohn. “Because we have Ramadan now. One month with fasting, and it’s not possible to do training in Ramadan. It’s very hard. You have to fast when the sun rises, and all day you have to fast. … Training this time is very hard.”

Ramadan, considered to be the holiest month on the Islamic calendar, goes from March 10 through April 9, 2024. With UFC 300 going down just four days later, the ‘Dagestani Destroyer’ simply didn’t feel comfortable with the timing. 

“Of course (it makes me sad), this is a dream fight for me,” Makhachev continued. “I don’t have any small chance to fight at UFC 300, that’s why I’m very upset, man. It’s a big deal, big fight with Leon Edwards for the second belt, but this time I miss the chance.”

Islam Makhachev Calls for a Clash with Dustin Poirier

Though we won’t see him compete at the promotion’s next big landmark event, Islam Makhachev is still planning to defend his title within the next few months. 

With his most viable challengers — Justin Gaethje and Charles Oliveira — already booked elsewhere, Makhachev is eyeing a potential clash with former interim titleholder Dustin Poirier. ‘The Diamond’ delivered a spectacular second-round knockout of Benoit Saint-Denis at UFC 299 that seems to have caught the attention of the 155-pound champ.

“I know Dustin does not deserve the title fight, but we don’t have any option right now,” Makhachev said. “Everybody is busy. I want to fight. I want to fight three times this year. I have to call out someone, and Poirier is free now. He showed an excellent performance and scored a beautiful knockout. He’s free now, he’s healthy, and I asked him to fight in June.”

Poirier has already come up short in two bids to claim the lightweight title, the first coming against Makhachev’s mentor, Khabib Nurmagomedov, at UFC 242. Two years later, he stepped inside the Octagon with Charles Oliveira and once again failed to leave with undisputed gold. In both instances, he was finished via submission in the third round. 

Poirier may not be at the top of the contender’s list, but Makhachev won’t make the mistake of underestimating his opponent — should their title tilt come to fruition.

“He’s a legend. He’s beat a lot of tough guys,” Makhachev added. “And he’s a tough opponent, too. He has a good guillotine.” 

Watch the full interview below:

Published on March 15, 2024 at 12:02 pm
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