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UFC 302 Recap: Sean Strickland’s broken promise, Dustin Poirier’s close call, and more

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When a fighter who has just lost his third and most likely final opportunity to win a UFC title emerges from the fight looking like a hero, it’s an odd sensation. Not terrible, but strange. The official record will indicate that Dustin Poirier was defeated by Islam Makhachev, the 155-pound champion, by submission in the fifth round on June 1, 2024. It will also reveal that Poirier has lost three of his last five fights, which is not good. However, if you only consider the data and the facts, you miss a lot. You’re missing the things that first drew viewers to professional fighting when it comes to the UFC 302 main event, and perhaps even throughout Poirier’s whole career.

Poirier probably never should have heard the words “Round 5” versus Makhachev in a world where skill alone matters. On the mat, the champion was infinitely superior, quicker, and stronger. Had you entered the fight halfway through the opening round and saw him securely attached to Poirier’s back after his initial takedown two minutes in, you probably would have thought the bout would end quickly. That is a typical case of miscalculation—not accounting for that dog, or the dog Poirier possesses.

It took more than just pure tenacity for Poirier to get from that depressing first round to a competitive and violent final round, but it also wasn’t insufficient toughness. Much of it was something you can only get the hard way, by living your entire life on the business side of all that interconnectivity.

You could see Poirier working out how he needed to combat Makhachev as the bout went on. He avoided getting involved (most of the time). Once more, he mostly put an end to the takedowns. Even after being taken down, he managed to get back up on his feet. He pulled Makhachev through the entire ordeal that results from combining the martial arts, then used his weariness to see opportunities for assaults.

It was insufficient. Makhachev also possesses a great deal of the same resilience. In addition, when he needs it most, his wrestling and submission skills may kick in like clockwork. His last takedown was breathtaking, and to add even more bitter irony to the moment, he utilized it to transition to the fight-ending D’arce choke, which was a guillotine choke, using Poirier’s song as resistance.

It was bound to end that way, naturally. So near, but so far away. A kind of autobiography of Poirier’s career. However, his tale also emphasizes the importance of finding success despite setbacks. Poirier didn’t get to be so well-liked in this sport by consistently winning. He accomplished this by offering every single bit of himself in a genuine, unadulterated, and uncooked manner. He had no fear of trying, failing, and trying again.

People remember that stuff, and for a lot longer than the figures in the official record.

Some Further Contemplations on UFC 302

Brendled Promise by Sean Strickland

Sean Strickland got into another battle with himself. In other words, after promising us a “bloodbath,” he methodically navigated his way to defeating Paulo Costa in the co-main event via split decision. There’s not much to fault him for. We should be aware of what to anticipate by now. His particular method is effective for the most part. He probably needs to constantly predicting bloodbaths in order to keep our interest since it’s really not that much fun.

The Early Stoppage Debate

Complaining about an early stoppage becomes difficult when you are left with only one working arm. This was the situation that Michal Oleksiejczuk found himself in after Kevin Holland armbarred him to the point that his elbow twisted in an unnatural way. Herb Dean’s decision to postpone it was not well received by Oleksiejczuk, but neither did he demonstrate any proficiency with the arm in any of his post-fight grievances. It’s always a very strong indication that the referee was correct when you’re waving one arm angrily while the other falls to your side like an empty sleeve.

Jailton Almeida’s Dream of Paris

Why not grant Jailton Almeida his request and dispatch him to take on Ciryl Gane in Paris? It’s the greatest suggestion I’ve heard for the two of them, and Almeida made it immediately after he defeated Alexander Romanov with ease. There’s no better method, in my opinion, to see if Gane has improved his ground game while also providing Almeida some work that matches his skill level.

UFC 302 was an evening filled with victories, heartaches, and highs and lows. Even if Dustin Poirier’s goal of winning a UFC championship may seem unattainable at this point, his tenacity and willpower are admirable. Even if Sean Strickland doesn’t always live up to his expectations, we still enjoy his performances. We also have a lot to look forward to in the future of mixed martial arts, including new possible matchups like Almeida vs. Gane.

What do you think?

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