Alan Jouban Urges Dustin Poirier to Retire After UFC 302 Loss

Dustin Poirier is contemplating retirement after his loss to Islam Makhachev at UFC 302, with his friend and UFC analyst Alan Jouban suggesting that Poirier should retire on a high note despite not winning the elusive UFC title.

Dustin Poirier confessed after his fifth-round submission loss to Islam Makhachev at UFC 302 that he may have competed for the last time in his career. While he hasn’t made any definitive decisions just yet, veteran UFC analyst and friend Alan Jouban hopes that Poirier ultimately lands on retirement.

Even before coming up short in his third attempt at becoming undisputed UFC champion, Poirier admitted that the end could be near. After accomplishing so much in the sport with a resume that includes a murderer’s row of competition, the 35-year-old Louisiana native only had one box left to check on his list.

Coming up short from claiming that elusive UFC title could potentially convince Poirier to come back for one final run. But Jouban explains that losing to Makhachev the way he did would actually provide a perfect exit for the fan-favorite fighter.

“I haven’t spoken to him since the fight — I would say walk away,” Jouban said on the latest episode of The Fighter vs. The Writer. “I would tell him to walk away. I think it’s been on his mind for a while. Since I’ve been talking to him for the last three years since I’ve been home [in Louisiana], he’s been bringing it up. ‘I don’t know how many more I left’ and then he gets a fight and then he knocks somebody out ‘one more.’ He gets a loss ‘I can’t live with that loss.’ Gets a win, ‘we’ll see what happens.’ Title fight comes, you can’t turn it down but he’s already got the money fight. People are chasing the belt, or they’re chasing Conor McGregor, and he’s done both.

“He’s said it a million times what is there left for me? He lost a fight that people probably gained even more — if it’s even possible ­— respect for him. It was such a competitive fight against the No. 1 pound-for-pound fighter in the world, who he handpicked Dustin because he thought it was a stylistic easier matchup. Dustin put him in deeper water than he’s ever been in his life against Islam. I think it’s a loss that you can hold your head high on. It’s one that’s easy to walk away from.”

Poirier said at the UFC 302 post-fight press conference that a win over Makhachev would have almost certainly marked the end of his career. Because he would have accomplished everything he set out to do when he first became a mixed martial artist.

As much as it stings to never hold that title, Poirier knows getting back for a fourth shot at UFC gold would be impossibly tough at this stage of his career. If that’s no longer the goal, he’s not sure if there’s really a point to sticking around any longer.

Even in defeat, Jouban doesn’t believe Poirier has any reason to hang his head. He took Makhachev to the brink before he fell by submission in the fifth round. It may not be the storybook ending that Poirier wanted, but Jouban understands how rarely that actually happens in this sport.

“It was so climactic in the approach in the buildup to this fight, how can you relive that?” Jouban said. “How can you go through all that again and say OK, my next fight against who? A No. 5, 6, or 7 ranked guy? Is that going to give me that same feeling that it did just fighting with the world watching and the world saluting me? I don’t think he’s going to get that feeling again.

“I’ve told him before, if you can go out on a victory, it’s going to feel so much better. When he lost the ‘BMF’ [title fight] to [Justin] Gaethje, it ate him alive. He cleansed his soul with Benoit Saint Denis, and I think his soul is still cleansed even in defeat against Islam because of the way he performed. I thought he fought like a champion. Islam was just a better guy that night. I’d say hang up that hat, continue everything else you’re doing in your career. That way this sport doesn’t retire him, he retires [from the sport].”

That last statement has been a big determining factor for Poirier deciding whether or not to fight again.

Right now, he’s still one of the top lightweight fighters in the world. But there are dozens of examples of championship-level fighters who refuse to retire and end up leaving on long losing streaks, looking like a shell of their former selves.

The difference in this case is Jouban knows there’s no shame whatsoever in losing to a fighter like Makhachev. Especially with the way that Poirier performed on Saturday night.

“He got submitted, so what?” Jouban said. “We get submitted every day in the gym. I go out like that all the time. It’s not a big deal. You’re not hurt. Maybe he has some injuries. I heard that his knee could be messed up. I really hope that is not the case. That’s going to make a possible retirement tougher. His nose is fractured, things like that but if we’re talking about just the fight, not the injuries, not this and that — that’s the type of loss I would love to go out on.

“Where every single person it seemed like in the arena was rooting for you. The celebrities, everybody loved Dustin. They were making video after video. It just had this aura about it where the underdogs would rise tonight. Everybody was backing the underdog.”

Poirier may have to live with the disappointment that he never became an undisputed champion. But Jouban doesn’t buy that really affects his legacy with his fellow fighters or fans.

If anything, Jouban believes Poirier should be welcomed at the champion’s table. Because he walked an arduous road unlike so many past UFC fighters who just so happened to win a belt.

“I’m not thinking of anyone in particular but I’m saying, we’ve obviously had a lot of champions and there’s a percentage of those champions that beat lesser competition than Dustin has faced many times without even getting a title shot,” Jouban said. “The belt doesn’t always put you in a prestigious category. It should be honored and respected but the guys that Dustin has been fighting are straight killers, his entire career. I think he has a seat at that table. I think he’s earned it.

“Your favorite fighter’s favorite fighter: Dustin Poirier. When all the best guys in the world love to watch you, it tells you something.”

Listen to new episodes of The Fighter vs. The Writer every Tuesday with audio-only versions of the podcast available on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, and iHeartRadio


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