Makhachev submits Poirier in Round 5 to retain UFC lightweight title (2024)

Dustin Poirier put up a valiant effort, but Islam Makhachev was a step ahead en route to another UFC lightweight title defense.

Makhachev submitted Poirier with a D'Arce choke at the 2:42 mark of the fifth round to retain the 155-pound championship in the UFC 302 main event Saturday night at Prudential Center in Newark.

Makhachev is now tied for the most successful title defenses in UFC lightweight history (three) with Khabib Nurmagomedov, BJ Penn, Benson Henderson, and Frankie Edgar. The Russian also now holds the longest winning streak in division history (13) on his own, breaking a tie with Nurmagomedov and Tony Ferguson. Makhachev surpassed five fighters for the third-longest winning streak in UFC history overall (14), behind only Anderson Silva (16) and Kamaru Usman (15).

Entering the fifth round, Makhachev was winning 39-37 on judges Eric Colon's and Sal D'Amato's scorecards, while the fight was tied at 38-38 on judge Chris Lee's scorecard. Poirier needed a finish to capture the title.

Instead, Makhachev dragged Poirier to the mat midway through the final round and sunk in a submission that forced the challenger to tap out. Poirier told Makhachev after the fight that he went unconscious after tapping.

"It's one of my favorite chokes," Makhachev said in his postfight interview. "It doesn't matter if I'm tired or whatever happened. I can do this choke all night."

After the fight, Poirier - who came up short in his third opportunity to become the undisputed lightweight champion - left the door open for a UFC return but also hinted at retirement.

"I know I can compete with the best of these guys," Poirier said in his postfight interview. "It's just, like, if I do fight again, what am I fighting for? Just to fight? I've done that 50 times. I don't know. I got a little girl I love. I gotta see. I think this could be it, honestly."

Poirier's performance exceeded expectations considering he was a 4-1 underdog. "The Diamond" held his ground throughout the fight, stopping 11 of Makhachev's 16 takedown attempts and making the champion strike with him for long stretches. Poirier even opened up a cut above Makhachev's left eyebrow in the fourth round.

Still, Makhachev was too much. He outlanded Poirier 88-74 in significant strikes and made the most of his five successful takedowns, racking up over 10 minutes of control time and hunting submissions. Poirier fought Makhachev's hands well and had strong submission defense until finally getting caught late in the fight.

"He defended my takedowns and gave me a hard time," Makhachev said of Poirier. "He's a champion, legend of this sport."

Poirier praised Makhachev for being relentless.

"I thought I was starting to chip away at him," said Poirier, whose success increased in the second half of the fight. "He just kept coming back."

Makhachev remains unbeaten since his second Octagon bout in 2015. The 32-year-old captured the lightweight title in 2022 and defended it twice in 2023 against then-featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski. Makhachev beat the Australian by unanimous decision last February and then knocked him out with a head kick in the first round of their short-notice rematch at UFC 294 in October.

Makhachev is ranked No. 1 on the promotion's male pound-for-pound list.

He reiterated that it's his "dream" to move up to welterweight and challenge for a second UFC title. Leon Edwards currently holds the belt at 170 pounds and will defend it against Belal Muhammad in July.

"I want to feel that energy again," Makhachev said of capturing a UFC championship. "Because when you defend your belt, it's not the same. I need a new one."

However, UFC CEO Dana White said a fight between Makhachev and No. 1-ranked lightweight Arman Tsarukyan makes sense next.

Poirier, a former UFC interim lightweight champ, was also submitted in undisputed title fights against Nurmagomedov in 2019 and Charles Oliveira in 2022, though he didn't make it to the championship rounds in either of those fights.

The 35-year-old earned an unexpected title shot against Makhachev by knocking out up-and-comer Benoit Saint Denis at UFC 299 in March. Poirier wasn't the most deserving contender but got the call due to several lightweights being booked for UFC 300 in April.

The 35-year-old Poirier, who suffered a knockout loss to Justin Gaethje just last July, has now alternated victories and defeats in his last six outings. Poirier has been in the UFC since 2011 and put together a Hall of Fame-caliber resume with the third-most wins in company history (22).

Makhachev submits Poirier in Round 5 to retain UFC lightweight title (2024)


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