Islam Makhachev explained why he needed a fight against Dustin Poirier

UFC lightweight champion Islam Makhachev of Dagestan explained why he made the decision to fight American Dustin Poirier.

Islam Makhachev is healthy and ready to fight, and he sees Dustin Poirier as the best option for his desired timetable.

Islam Makhachev (25-1 MMA, 14-1 UFC) said he wanted to defend his 155-pound title in March, but the promotion told him there was no opponent available and proceeded with booking key divisional bouts of Justin Gaethje vs. Max Holloway and Charles Oliveira vs. Arman Tsarukyan for UFC 300 on April 13.

“Now I’m healthy. I told them I will be ready in March, but they asked me to fight in beginning of February – that time I had a small injury,” Makhachev told MMA Junkie on Thursday. “I wasn’t 100 percent. But I told them in March I will be ready. But they say, ‘In March, we don’t have any options.’ I said, ‘OK, I have the belt. Just give someone. I will be ready.’”

Islam Makhachev said he is training every day and waiting for a fight offer and date. That’s been the case for several weeks now, then Poirier (30-8 MMA, 22-7 UFC) scored a brutal second-round knockout of Benoit Saint Denis at UFC 299 this past weekend, prompting Makhachev and his team to push for a showdown with “The Diamond,” ideally at UFC 302, which is expected to take place June 1.

“I know Dustin does not deserve the title fight, but we don’t have any option right now,” Makhachev said. “Everybody is busy. I want to fight. I want to fight three times this year. I have to call out someone, and Poirier is free now. He showed an excellent performance and scored a beautiful knockout. He’s free now, he’s healthy, and I asked him to fight in June.”

Although there’s a strong argument the winners of both Gaethje vs. Holloway and Oliveira vs. Tsarukyan should be higher in the title shot queue than Poirier, these situations often come down to timing. Makhachev is not overly optimistic that any other options would be ready for a less than two-month turnaround to fight June 1, so Poirier stands out.

“No one (else) is going to be ready,” Islam Makhachev said. “Maybe someone will be ready, but I have to fight. I don’t care. I am healthy now, I am training every day, and I need someone.

“He’s beat a lot of top guys. He’s a legend. A fight with him, it’s going to be good for me – for the history, for everything. He’s a legend. He beat a lot of tough guys. He’s a tough opponent, too. He have a good guillotine.”

Islam Makhachev, No. 2 in the latest USA TODAY Sports/MMA Junkie pound-for-pound rankings, said he has yet to hear a response from UFC as to whether they will oblige his wish to fight Poirier. He doesn’t think it will be an easy fight by any means – unless Poirier goes for his signature guillotine.

“I will take him down, he will try the guillotine, and I will take his back and choke him,” Makhachev said. “That’s it.”

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