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MMA Junkie’s Fight of the Month for June: Dustin Poirier tests Islam Makhachev, but can’t claim UFC lightweight title

Dustin Poirier had 25 minutes to finish the story, but Islam Makhachev wrote an alternate ending.

In an all-time thrilling battle, Makhachev (25-1 MMA, 14-1 UFC) submitted Poirier (30-8 MMA, 22-7 UFC) with a D’Arce choke at the 2:42 mark of Round 5. The lightweight title bout was the UFC 302 main event.

Poirier immediately found himself in deep, dangerous waters early in Round 1, as Makhachev almost immediately took him down. Makhachev worked to the back but Poirier’s rear-naked choke defense was sufficient enough to survive the round.

As Round 2 progressed, Poirier found increasing success. He stuffed Makhachev’s takedown attempts, though each sequence was a lengthy struggle. Poirier found success in the pocket and in the clinch, particularly with a left elbow.

With each strike Poirier landed, Prudential Center burst into deafening cheers. Chants of “F*ck you, Islam,” also proved this was Poirier’s turf.

But Makhachev blocked out the thousands of expletives spit his way. In Round 3, he landed some hard punches on Poirier before he dragged it to the canvas once again. Poirier dug deep, raised to the feet, and shoved Makhachev off.

Upon the break, Poirier blew out a half-booger, half-blood hybrid and marched forward. Poirier landed on Makhachev, who returned. The two fighters exchanged blows until the end-of-round horn. Poirier stuck out his tongue as he walked back to the corner, his eyes swollen.

Both fighters showed wear, tear, and fatigue in the early stages of the championship rounds. An initially-slow clinch sequence against the cage burst into a Poirier body shot barrage as he punished the champion’s midsection.

As they separated, Poirier came on strong. He sliced Makhachev badly above the left eye. At the end of the round, the two fighters came forehead-to-forehead, leaving blood prints on one another.

In the final round, Makhachev engaged Poirier in a takedown attempt. He was relentless and used a single-leg takedown that tripped Poirier. Makhachev eventually worked for a guillotine choke that he switched to a D’Arce to get the tap.

guillotine choke that he switched to a D’Arce to get the tap.

Poirier remained down while doctors and commission officials tended to him. Makhachev’s team hopped the cage in celebration.

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