June 23, 2024

Islam Makhachev, Dustin Poirier pulled apart by security after heated UFC 302 faceoff

What started out as a friendly rivalry for UFC 302’s main event turned into a heated faceoff as Islam Makhachev and Dustin Poirier had to be pulled apart after jawing at one another following the pre-fight press conference on Thursday.

The lightweights came together for a stoic staredown at first, but then Makhachev leaned in to say something — and that earned a response from the former interim lightweight champion Poirier.

Before long, Makhachev and Poirier were going back and forth, as both had plenty to say with UFC play-by-play man Jon Anik standing between them as peacekeeper. At one point, Makhachev’s demeanor changed as he spoke to Poirier, and that prompted security to get between them and pull the fighters apart before anything crazy could happen.

It was a surprising moment, but not totally unexpected after Makhachev and Poirier got a little feisty during the press conference when asked about Saturday’s fight.

“Honestly, I think I am the best fighter in the world right now,” Makhachev said. “That’s why it’s going to be a bad day for Dustin. He has problems with the wrestlers always and I will give him that problem.

“I respect him, but when he faces with some high-level fighters who have wrestling and grappling, he always has problems. If not [for] me, Khabib [Nurmagomedov] or [Charles] Oliveira, he [could] be champion. I feel bad for him, but when he meet some good wrestlers and grapplers, he always has the same problem.”

Makhachev also took issue with Poirier’s passion for the guillotine choke, a submission he often uses during his fights but a once that has yet to earn him a victory. Despite pleas from his coaches to stop going for the guillotine choke, Poirier insists that he’s going to hit the submission one day — although Makhachev promises he won’t be Poirier’s first victim.

In fact, the reigning UFC lightweight champion said he might need to show Poirier a thing or two about the guillotine choke when they meet in the octagon.

“I have to [use this submission] because his guillotine is always looking bad,” Makhachev said. “He always makes some joke about the guillotine. I have to show him how to do it right.”

As much as Poirier might like to hit that submission on Makhachev, he predicted a much more likely outcome given his particular set of skills.

“I knock him out Saturday night,” Poirier said. “I knock him unconscious. I’m going to pry that belt out of your hands, bro, Saturday night.

“He should listen to his coaches and box like they’re telling him to. Let’s box.”

Makhachev reminded him rather quickly that they’re not competing in boxing, no matter how much Poirier wants to use his hands.

“This is not boxing. This is MMA,” Makhachev said. “If you [don’t] tap, you will sleep.”

Poirier didn’t blink in his response to the imposing Russian.

“Well, you’re going to sleep like it’s boxing,” Poirier said.

The fighters face off one more time on Friday at UFC 302’s ceremonial weigh-ins, where they’ll get a final chance to say whatever needs to be said before Saturday’s title bout.