UFC 302’s Dustin Poirier believes Islam Makhachev’s fight game has surpassed that of Khabib Nurmagomedov

UFC 302 headliner Dustin Poirier believes Islam Makhachev's skills have surpassed that of Khabib Nurmagomedov

Dustin Poirier believes that reigning UFC lightweight champion Islam Makhachev is better both on the ground and on the feet than his mentor, Khabib Numragomedov.

On Saturday, June 1, ‘The Diamond’ will return to the Octagon for what could very well be the final fight of his illustrious combat sports career. Headlining the promotion’s return to the Prudential Cente in Newark, New Jersey, ‘The Diamond’ will challenge Makhachev for the 155-pound crown in the UFC 302 main event.

Makhachev vs. Dustin Poirier

With their highly anticipated scrap a few short weeks away, Poirier joined Ariel Helwani on The MMA Hour to break down his fight with the ‘Dagestani Destroyer’ and the differences he sees between Makhachev and former lightweight titleholder Khabib Nurmagomedov.

“I think [Islam’s] submission game, jiu-jitsu wise, is a little more versatile than Khabib,” Poirier said. “Khabib had some chokes that he did really well, but Islam’s putting himself in, you could say bad positions, going for armbars. Maybe he loses a position but he trusts his wrestling to get it back.

“I think [Islam] is a little bit more of a threat jiu-jitsu wise and scrambles, but I think his striking’s better than Khabib’s.”

Dustin Poirier knows a thing or two about what it’s like being inside the Octagon with Nurmagomedov. The two went toe-to-toe for the lightweight title nearly five years ago at UFC 242. While ‘The Diamond’ hung in there longer than most, he would eventually submit to ‘The Eagle’ via a third-round rear-naked choke.

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Khabib vs. Dustin Poirier

Dustin Poirier reacts to Islam makhachev calling him an ‘easy fight’

Going 2-2 in his last four fights, Dustin Poirier’s journey to a third lightweight title opportunity was more a matter of circumstance than anything else. Still, it would be foolish to count out ‘The Diamond’ inside the Octagon. Unfortunately, that appears to be exactly what Islam Makhachev has already done.

Islam Makhachev

During a recent interview with TMZ, Makhachev said: “I have the key for the easy fight. And if I follow the plan, I can beat him easy.”

Reacting to the notion that he’s an “easy fight” for the Dagestani, Poirier warned Makhachev of what happens when you underestimate one of the UFC’s most explosive strikers.

“I hadn’t been keeping up a whole lot but when I was at the gym, Mike Brown, he said ‘Man, this guy might be underestimating your jiu-jitsu and underestimating how dangerous you are.’ I think what he is referring to is an interview of Islam saying this is an easy fight for me,” Poirier said. “I was tagged in a bunch of stuff on Instagram and Twitter, that is where I see a lot of the info of him saying that.

“I don’t know, maybe he goes about all fights like this. But, I can finish and beat anybody at 155 lbs in the world, I really believe that. He doesn’t have to believe it, I am the one who has to believe it and I’m the one who has to go out there and beat his ass, and I can do that” (h/t BJPenn.com).