Makhachev faces Diamond-level challenge at UFC 302

mma27 May 2024 09:00| © Backpage TXT
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Islam Makhachev and Alexander Volkanovski

Islam Makhachev will face Dustin ‘The Diamond’ Poirier in defence of his lightweight championship in the main event of UFC 302, set for the Prudential Centre in Newark, New Jersey, on the morning of Sunday 2 June 2024.

Makhachev (25-1) has made two successful defences of his lightweight title, defeating Alexander Volkanovski twice (once by unanimous decision, once by first-round knockout) in 2023 to bring his winning streak to 13 matches.

Poirier (30-8, 1 NC) was last in action in March, claiming an impressive second-round knockout win over highly-regarded up-and-comer Benoit Saint Denis to earn a third shot at the undisputed lightweight title.

The 35-year-old American has previously held the interim belt, but lost to Khabib Nurmagomedov and Charles Oliveira in matches for the undisputed championship in 2019 and 2021 respectively.

Poirier has hinted at retirement after this match against Makhachev, but has not confirmed any concrete decision.

“I'm approaching 18 years of fighting, and I wanna become the world champion and live my life, you know?” said ‘The Diamond’.

“It could be [my last fight]. I haven't made an official decision yet, but it could be.

“I've said this over and over again, I still have a lot of tread on the tires. I can beat these young guys – I just did it. But how much do I want to give to this sport, because you don't ride for free?”

The 32-year-old Russian, meanwhile, believes that his similarities to Nurmagomedov will make him a nightmare for Poirier.

“His problem is his style… His weak point his wrestling and his grappling. I have the key for the easy fight. My style and Khabib style is the worst style for Dustin,” noted Makhachev.

The rest of the main card features a potential middleweight thriller between elite fighters Sean Strickland and Paulo Costa in the co-main event; Kevin Holland faces Michael Oleksiejczuk in another middleweight match; Jailton Almeida faces Alexander Romanov in a heavyweight bout; and a welterweight opener pits Randy Brown against Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos.

UFC 302 – Main Card

- Main event: Lightweight championship: Islam Makhachev v Dustin Poirier

- Middleweight: Sean Strickland v Paulo Costa

- Middleweight: Kevin Holland v Michael Oleksiejczuk

- Heavyweight: Jailton Almeida v Alexander Romanov

- Welterweight: Randy Brown v Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos