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UFC 302 live results and analysis: Makhachev vs. Poirier

The lightweight title is on the line between Islam Makhachev and Dustin Poirier. Follow live.



UFC 302 live results and analysis: Makhachev vs. Poirier
UFC 302 live results and analysis: Makhachev vs. Poirier
Islam Makhachev retained his lightweight title in a five-round thriller versus Dustin Poirier in the main event of UFC 302 in Newark, New Jersey. Makhachev locked in a D'Arce choke late in the fifth round to force Poirier to tap.

In the co-main event, former middleweight champion Sean Strickland is officially back on the title track as he defeated Paulo Costa by split decision in a five-round contest.

During the UFC 302 postfight news conference, Makhachev and Poirier earned Fight of the Night bonuses. Additionally, Makhachev and Kevin Holland took home Performance of the Night bonuses.

Brett Okamoto, Andreas Hale and Dre Waters broke down all of the action in Newark, including big wins from Holland, Niko Price and Randy Brown.

(c) = defending champion

"I think I'm knocking on the door," Poirier told ESPN about his ongoing aspiration to be the lightweight champion. "If I win this undisputed belt on June 1, you can stack my résumé against any other 155-pound fighter in the world. I think I'm close to being the greatest."

That résumé includes almost everything Poirier set out to accomplish nearly 20 years ago. Poirier is the only person to beat Conor McGregor twice and has had a career littered with fights against former world champions and fighters who have routinely hovered near the top of the subjective pound-for-pound list: Khabib Nurmagomedov, Charles Oliveira, Eddie Alvarez, Michael Chandler, Justin Gaethje, Max Holloway, Anthony Pettis and others. Some are still fighting while others are long gone. But Poirier is still standing, still fighting and still one of the most beloved figures in all of MMA.

"I have checked every single box except the one that says, 'undisputed champion,'" Poirier said. "That's a box I want checked. All the other boxes got checked on the way to this goal. It's a byproduct of me trying to be the best in the world. I'm still chasing that."

Capturing the title that has eluded him on his third try -- inside an arena that resides on Lafayette Street with his wife and 7-year-old daughter nearby -- would be a storybook ending for arguably the greatest mixed martial artist to never win a UFC championship.

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A little over a month ago, fans witnessed one of the most dynamic fight cards in the history of mixed martial arts. That festive night was a hard act to follow, so it's fair to say the sport has been experiencing a bit of a UFC 300 hangover.

But this weekend brings a gentle antidote.

UFC 302, which goes down Saturday in Newark, New Jersey, is nowhere near as stacked from top to bottom as April's milestone event, but the headline attraction is as good as it gets. The pound-for-pound king, Islam Makhachev, will defend his lightweight championship against a longtime luminary of the weight class, Dustin Poirier. It's a fight that needs no added selling points but nonetheless has one: Poirier, at age 35, will likely be making his final bid for gold.

While UFC 302 doesn't boast wall-to-wall star power, there's intrigue up and down the fight lineup. Here are some storylines that we will get to see play out.

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At UFC 302, Poirier will be the biggest underdog on the card, and the numbers agree he has an uphill battle. While Poirier wields strong and technical offensive striking, Makhachev counters with excellent defense and is capable of precise power striking of his own, albeit at a much lower pace. Poirier averages three times the striking pace of Makhachev. Unfortunately for Poirier, he also eats a fair number of shots in return. So he'll likely be the busier striker, but he's still vulnerable on counters.

And that's only when the fight is standing, as Makhachev will surely attempt plenty of takedowns. Poirier's takedown defense rates are only average, and he's a bit too willing to fight off his back. Poirier needs a finish. Otherwise, he'll probably be spending long periods losing points on the mat. --Reed Kuhn

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