Makhachev sees off ‘Diamond’ to retain lightweight title

mma02 June 2024 05:41| © Backpage TXT

Islam Makhachev saw off a ferocious challenge from Dustin ‘Diamond’ Poirier to retain his lightweight championship in the main event of UFC 302 at the Prudential Centre in Newark, New Jersey, on the morning of Sunday 2 June 2024.

Makhachev and Poirier put up a brilliant MMA contest, matching each other blow for blow in terms of striking, but the champion’s superior takedown, grappling and wrestling ultimately paid dividends when he sunk in a d’arce choke midway through the fifth and final round to force a tap from the challenger.

“He’s a champion, a legend of this sport, thank you, Dustin,” said Makhachev in his post-fight interview with Joe Rogan, before explaining that he is strongly considering a move to the light heavyweight division: “When you [just] defend your belt it’s not the same, I need a new belt.”

Poirier, who has now been defeated in all three of his matches for the undisputed lightweight championship, said he could well retire from the sport. “I think this could be it, Joe,” said the 35-year-old.

In the middleweight co-main event, former division champion Sean Strickland took a split decision win over Paulo Costa. ‘Tarzan’ was the more efficient and effective fighter through five rounds, eventually taking the fight 46-49 50-45 49-46 on the judges’ scorecards.

“Boring fight, man, sorry guys. I thought we were gonna have a war,” said Strickland after the match, before calling for another match with champion Dricus du Plessis: “I wanna fight for the belt... gimme that title shot.”

The rest of the main card saw Kevin Holland submit Michael Oleksiejczuk in the first round of their middleweight match; Niko Price defeated Alex Morono via unanimous decision in a welterweight clash; and the welterweight opener brought a unanimous decision triumph for Randy Brown over Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos.

The UFC continues next Sunday with a Fight Night in Louisville, Kentucky, headlined by a middleweight match between Jared Cannonier and Nassourdine Imavov.

UFC 302 – Main Card results

Main event: Lightweight championship: Islam Makhachev def. Dustin Poirier via submission (d’arce choke), R5, 2:42

Middleweight: Sean Strickland def. Paulo Costa via split decision (46-49 50-45 49-46), R5, 5:00

Middleweight: Kevin Holland def. Michael Oleksiejczuk via technical submission (armbar), R1, 1:34

Welterweight: Niko Price def. Alex Morono via unanimous decision (29-28 29-28 29-28), R3, 5:00

Welterweight: Randy Brown def. Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos via unanimous decision (29-28 29-28 29-28), R3, 5:00