UFC 302’s Dustin Poirier Questions Career Future After “Leaving Pieces I Can’t Get Back” in the Cage

Newark, NJ — Dustin Poirier knows that at this point in his career, the title shot he’s set for at UFC 302 is likely to be his last.

Poirier (30-8, 1NC) faces Islam Makhachev for lightweight gold in Newark, after the former interim champ came up short against both Khabib Nurmagomedov in 2019, and Charles Oliveira in 2021.

With that in mind, however, the pending fight with Nurmagomedov’s teammate, Makhachev, feels no more momentous.

“It doesn’t feel bigger; honestly I feel more comfortable in this position than I ever have,” Poirier told media outlets including Cageside Press during Wednesday’s UFC 302 media day. “I know it’s big, because of where I’m at in my career. Like I’ve said over and over again, I’m probably not going to get another shot to climb that ladder. I’m 35.”

As Poirier went on to note, “how many shots can you give somebody, how many times can I climb that mountain? But I’m trying not to focus on that part of it and just take it as another fight, so I don’t add any pressure.”

Makhachev suggested on Wednesday in his own media appearance that he believed Poirier is the same fighter he was in 2019, when Nurmagomedov submitted “The Diamond.” Poirier himself sees things differently, not surprisingly.

“That fight was years ago. If I’m not a better fighter than I was then, I wasted years of my life,” he stated. When it comes to the match-up being potentially the worst possible stylistically, however, Poirier agreed. “He’s right. Over the last 17, 18 years I’ve been fighting, these are the toughest style match-ups for me. Guys that are heavy wrestlers, top heavy, good top control. They’re able to take the fight where they want it to be.”

“I’m the kind of fighter who does well in the fight,” he added. “If they can slow that down and make it more of a match or competition— I need this to be a fight.”

Ahead of UFC 302, Dustin Poirier has questioned whether he’ll still be competing moving forward, win or lose. Of course, a victory Saturday would be more likely to extend his career, but either way there’s the possibility that after 40 pro fights (the Makhachev fight will mark just that), Poirier chooses to hang up the gloves.

When it comes to making that decision, “it’s feelings based,” the Louisiana-born fighter explained. “Do I want to do this again? Because I love it. I’m scared to not be able to have that opportunity to do it again. But I also know, I feel like I’m a broken record on repeat saying the same stuff in every interview, but how much can I give of myself to this sport before it’s…? Because every time I get in there I’m leaving pieces I can’t get back.”

“I say this over and over again, but I really mean it. This isn’t good for you, and I understand that. Would I do it again? A hundred percent. It’s given me everything I have and I love it, and its taught me so much.”

But, continued Poirier, “I’m 35 years old, and I have a daughter who’s about to be eight years old. I have businesses, my family. My wife’s I’m sure tired of me being gone. Being in training camp, and being stressed out about another fight.” Poirier is tired of missing family outings from cheer performances to birthday parties, he added. “I want to be there for my family and to be in a routine. I’m very thankful for fighting and like I said, I would do it again— but at what point am I giving too much?”

Watch the full UFC 302 media day appearance by Dustin Poirier above.