Dustin Poirier Leaning Towards Retirement After UFC 302 Loss

Dustin Poirier is contemplating retirement after his recent loss to Islam Makhachev for the lightweight title, but remains uncertain due to his belief in his continued ability to compete at a high level.

Dustin Poirier isn’t retiring just yet, but he’s leaning that way.

Earlier this month, Poirier challenged Islam Makhachev for the lightweight title at UFC 302. He lost by fifth-round submission. It was Poirier’s third chance at undisputed gold. At 35 years old, “The Diamond” is far from another title shot anytime soon. After the fight, Poirier hinted at retirement. Given a few weeks to digest the outcome, the Louisiana native is still thinking that might be it for him.

“I still don’t know,” Poirier said Monday on The MMA Hour. “I can’t say I’ll never fight again, but I just don’t know the reason. What am I going to fight for? To get into a battle? I love that, but I’ve taken some lumps over the years. It has to be for something. And maybe that’s something I’ll realize in the coming weeks, but I’m just taking it one day at a time.

“I’m leaning towards being done. For sure. Especially with getting the title fight, how many more times would I need to fight to put myself back in position to fight for the world title? I don’t know. And like I said, I’m not going to do it again, I’m not going to fight five more times to try and earn another title shot. I’m in a weird spot and I don’t know how to explain it or what decision to make. I’m just taking it day by day and seeing what comes with my mind changing and just to see how I feel.”

Though he ultimately fell short against Makhachev, Poirier still proved he’s one of the best lightweights in the world. He gave the champion and top pound-for-pound fighter in the sport all he could handle for nearly five rounds. And as he thinks about that, Poirier says that’s the biggest reason he can’t commit to retiring just yet: Because he knows how good he still is.

“The only thing that makes me not want to walk away is because I know I can still compete with these guys and I feel like I’m still getting better,” Poirier said. “It’s not like I’m slowing down that much or age is catching up with me. My reaction time is still good, I feel good, and I know I can beat these guys. And say I do leave, a year from now, it might not be the same if I ever try to come back. I’m scared to miss what I have left to give, but also I don’t want to give too much of myself. … I want to give more because I know that I have a short window to give the best of myself, but also I’ve given so much of myself to the sport for so long, it’s just, where do I draw the line? That’s a battle I have to figure out with myself.”

Ultimately, whether or not Poirier retires appears to come down simply to how he feels when the time comes. Poirier acknowledges that while nothing interests him at the moment, an actual fight offer could change things.

“Talking about those things is not exciting to me, but if my phone rang right now and it was Hunter [Campbell] and he said, ‘This fight,’ I’ve got to see how I feel when it’s offered to me,” Poirier said. “That’s how I know what decision to make. Talking about it, there’s nothing attractive to me.”

If UFC 302 was the last time Poirier ever steps in a cage, “The Diamond” appears to be at peace with how his career ended.

“Of course I’m not happy with the result, but I’m happy with who I am,” Poirier said. “What’s more important, what you acquire on the journey or who you become on the journey? And the person I’ve become on this journey, I’m forever grateful to the fight game for turning me into this person. Because the way I think about things, the way I view things, my perspective is completely different, and it’s all because of the ups and downs, picking myself up. I just look at the world in a different way and I’m thankful for that. I’m in a great spot.”

“Everything happened the way it was supposed to happen,” Poirier added. “That’s the thing with my mindset moving forward after these past few fights: I wanted to win, I prepared myself, I was ready to win, ready to sacrifice it all, do what I had to do to get my hand raised, but I lost and that’s life. What do I do? I wake up the next, pick myself up, be grateful my feet touch the floor, and attack a new day. If it’s for me, it won’t miss me. It wasn’t for me that night.”


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