UFC 302: Makhachev submits Poirier in gruelling title fight

Islam Makhachev submitted Dustin Poirier in the fifth round of a gruelling contest to retain his lightweight title at UFC 302 in New Jersey.

Russian Makhachev’s elite grappling proved the difference as the 32-year-old secured a d’arce choke, forcing American Poirier to submit.

The victory at the Prudential Centre was Makhachev’s third defence of his belt while Poirier, 35, hinted at retirement after coming up short in what is likely to be his final attempt at becoming undisputed champion.

“I know I can compete with the best, but if I do fight again what am I fighting for?” said Poirier.

“I’ve got a little girl that I love. I don’t know, I think this could be it, honestly.”

If Poirier does retire, he will exit the sport as one of the greatest mixed martial artists to not win an undisputed UFC title.

The narrative during the build-up had been whether Poirier could claim the belt at his third attempt after defeats by Khabib Nurmagomedov in 2019 and Charles Oliveira in 2021.

Poirier has one of the most distinguished resumes in MMA history, winning 21 of his 30 UFC fights since his debut in 2011, including an interim title victory against Max Holloway in 2019, but has said becoming undisputed champion is the reason he first put on a pair of gloves as a 17-year-old.

In Makhachev he was facing arguably the UFC’s biggest challenge, however, with the pound-for-pound number one winning 25 of his 26 Professional fights heading into the contest.