Dustin Poirier Believes Islam Makhachev Underestimates Him Before UFC 302

Dustin Poirier believes that Islam Makhachev, who he is set to challenge for the UFC lightweight title in June, could be underestimating him.

Dustin Poirier reckons Islam Makhachev might be taking him lightly. In June, Poirier’s up against Makhachev for the UFC lightweight title, headlining UFC 302 in Newark, N.J. A bit of a shocker, this opportunity for Poirier, considering his knockout by Justin Gaethje not even a year ago. But, with Makhachev’s other potential opponents unable to bounce back quickly for a June fight post-UFC 300, Poirier got the call. He shared this on Monday’s episode of The MMA Hour.

Poirier got the news from UFC executive Hunter Campbell after the main event had wrapped up. “As soon as that fight [between Arman Tsarukyan and Charles Oliveira] ended, he called me and said, ‘Hey, I’m walking back there right now. You might be up next.’ I’m like, ‘Oh shit!’” Poirier recalled. His heart was racing, he was sweating, surrounded by fans. He felt the need to escape. So, he retreated to his room with his wife and niece, anxiously waiting for the call. And it came.

The next day, Poirier flew from there to Lafayette, Louisiana. He packed his bags and headed straight to training camp. He didn’t have full notice, but he wasn’t in a position to demand eight weeks. He had to seize this opportunity and give it his all.

Makhachev, the current No. 1 pound-for-pound fighter in the world, stands in Poirier’s way. Makhachev, a protégé of lightweight GOAT Khabib Nurmagomedov, defended his belt twice in 2023. Both times against fellow top pound-for-pound fighter and then-featherweight champ Alexander Volkanovski. Makhachev hasn’t lost in nearly nine years.

This winning streak seems to have boosted Makhachev’s confidence. He recently claimed that Poirier would be an “easy” fight. But Poirier, Lafayette’s pride, warns Makhachev of a rude awakening.

“I kinda feel like some of the stuff he says, he might not [respect me],” Poirier said. “But I’m gonna put my hands on this guy. I’m coming in there to hurt him. This is my last shot. Mom’s spaghetti. Let’s go.”

Mike Brown, at the gym, told Poirier, “Man, I think this guy may be underestimating your jiu-jitsu and how dangerous you are.” Brown was referring to an interview where Islam said, “This is an easy fight for me.” Poirier saw tags on Instagram and Twitter of him saying that. “Maybe he goes about all fights like that, but I can finish and beat anybody at 155 pounds in the world. I really believe that. And he doesn’t have to believe it. I’m the one who has to believe it and go out there and beat his ass. I can do that.”

Poirier, a former interim lightweight champ, has already challenged for the lightweight title twice. He was submitted by both Khabib Nurmagomedov and Charles Oliveira. The Oliveira fight seemed like Poirier’s last shot at fulfilling his “Paid in Full” motto. But luck smiled on him one more time. Poirier sees this title shot as his last chance, 25 minutes to make the world fair and realize his dreams.

“I don’t think I’m gonna be around to get another shot,” Poirier said. “That being said, I’m not putting the pressure onto myself to where it’s shaking me. It just is what it is. I’m a realist. I try to be optimistic and keep the best mindset, but I understand what it is. I’m 35. The division has to move on at some point, but I’m trying to finish this thing. The reason that I put a pair of gloves on at 17 years old was to say I’m the best in the world, and June 1st, I plan to do it.”

His daughter will be there, front row, for the first time ever. He wants to show her that dreams can come true. “This is a big deal to me. It’s more than fighting. Like I said before, what I’m fighting for is worth more than silver and gold. It’s my life, to have this feather in my cap — if it is the last one, to walk away from this sport content. I just want to go through life content. And winning isn’t guaranteed. Of course. I’m fighting the No. 1 pound-for-pound guy, but I’m putting myself in position physically, mentally, to be in the best position I can be and make this a reality. It is what it is. Dream chasing. Story of my life.”

UFC 302 is set for June 1 at the Prudential Center.


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