UFC 302 Odds, Prediction: Islam Makhachev vs. Dustin Poirier

Jordan Ramsay | Updated May 30, 2024

MMA: UFC 284 Makhachev vs Volkanovski

The lightweight championship is on the line in the main event of UFC 302 as Islam Makhachev defends his belt against former interim lightweight champion Dustin Poirier.

Islam Makhachev’s 13-fight win streak has not only brought him to the top of the lightweight division, it has also made him the No. 1 ranked pound-for-pound fighter in the UFC as he prepares to defend his belt against Dustin Poirier at UFC 302 in New Jersey on Saturday. Poirier is a former interim lightweight champion, but he’s had mixed results while alternating losses over his last five fights.

Makhachev opened as a heavy -600 favourite on the MMA odds, while Poirier is a +425 underdog.

Islam Makhachev UFC 302 Odds

Fighting professionally since 2010, Makhachev only has one blemish on his career record of 25-1. The 32-year-old Russian is also a former combat sambo world champion in 2016 and two-time Russian national champion at 74 kg in 2014 and 2016. A former training partner of Khabib Nurmagomedov, Makhachev’s 13-fight win streak broke a tie with Nurmagomedov and Tony Ferguson for longest win streak in UFC lightweight division history.

Makhachev is 14-1 since his UFC debut in 2015 and he won the vacant lightweight belt with a second-round submission victory against Charles Oliveira at UFC 280 in October 2022. Makhachev has made two previous successful title defences over the last 15 months, both against former featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski. The first fight ended by unanimous decision in February 2023, while the second was a first-round knockout last October.

Makhachev relies on his elite grappling, which has helped him win 11 career fights by submission. He’s not the most stylistically exciting fighter, but his superior wrestling ability allows him to wear opponents out while searching for a submission. Poirier will try to keep this fight standing up, so Makhachev’s best bet is to keep Poirier against the fence and look for a takedown.

Dustin Poirier UFC 302 Odds

Poirier is 30-8 with one ‘no contest’ since his professional MMA debut in 2009. Currently ranked as the No. 4 contender in the lightweight division, the 35-year-old Louisiana native is arguably most known for his trilogy of fights against Conor McGregor in which he won the last two. McGregor hasn’t fought since breaking his leg against Poirier at UFC 264 in July 2021, although the “Notorious” is set to return against Michael Chandler at UFC 303 in late June.

Poirier has spent the majority of his career in the UFC, making his promotional debut in 2011. In addition to the McGregor victories, Poirier has beat big names like Max Holloway, Justin Gaethje, and Dan Hooker. Poirier won the interim lightweight championship against Holloway in 2019, but he lost his previous two title shots against Nurmagomedov in 2019 and also against Oliveira in 2021. He’s alternated wins and losses over his last five fights, but he’s fresh off a second-round knockout victory against Benoit Saint Denis in March that earned him a Fight of the Night bonus.

“The Diamond” is a pure striker, so he’ll look to keep on his feet against Makhahev. Defending against takedowns will be key for Poirier as he looks to make the fight a pure brawl. He has to avoid the ground at all costs and fighting a little dirty while throwing everything he has at Makhachev is the only way to stay standing up. If the rumours about Poirier retiring after the fight are true, a wild underdog win would be a fitting way to cap off his career.

UFC 302 Prediction: Makhachev vs. Poirier

While this fight is a pretty big mismatch on paper, Poirier is enough of a brawler to make me believe there is at least a remote possibility he can land a knockout shot. Still, let’s be honest. Makhachev is the No. 1 pound-for-pound fighter for a reason, while Poirier has never been able to make the most of his title shots. There’s not much value betting Makhachev to win outright, so the better play is to take Makhachev to win by submission (-120).

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