UFC 302 results: Islam Makhachev puts Dustin Poirier to sleep with D’Arce Choke, defends lightweight belt for third time

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Quick Results

Main Card (10 p.m. ET) (PPV)

  • Islam Makhachev def. Dustin Poirier via Submission, D’Arce Choke (RD 5, 2:42) (UFC Lightweight Championship)
  • Sean Strickland def. Paulo Costa via Decision, Unanimous
  • Kevin Holland def. Michal Oleksiejczuk via Submission, Armbar (RD 1, 1:34)
  • Niko Price def Alex Morono via Decision, Unanimous
  • Randy Brown def. Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos via Decision, Unanimous

Preliminary Card (8 p.m. ET) (ESPN2 / ESPN+)

  • Roman Kopylov def. Cesar Almeida via Decision, Split
  • Jailton Almeida def. Alexandr Romanov via Submission, Rear Naked Choke (RD 1, 2:27)
  • Grant Dawson def. Joe Solecki via Decision, Unanimous
  • Jake Matthews def. Phil Rowe via Decision, Unanimous

Early Prelims (6:30 p.m. ET) (ESPN+ / UFC Fight Pass)

  • Bassil Hafez def. Mickey Gall via Decision, Unanimous
  • Ailin Perez def. Joselyne Edwards via Decision, Unanimous
  • Andre Lima def. Mitch Raposo via Decision, Split

Islam Makhachev earns late submission against Dustin Poirier to defend lightweight belt for third time

Pound-for-pound top fighter Islam Makhachev provided a strong ending to his competitive yet successful performance against Dustin Poirier in the final round, putting the long-time contender to sleep with a D’arce Choke to defend his UFC Lightweight Championship for the third time.

The submission win headlined UFC 302, which took place Saturday from the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey.

The lively pro-Poirier crowd saw Makhachev succeed both on the feet and on the canvas, but not without a significant amount of resistance from a game challenger.

Early in the fight, it became clear that Makhachev would be a problem for Poirier no matter where the bout went. After landing some shots on the feet, he took Poirier to the mat and looked for a submission.

Poirier likely sensed deja vu when on the ground, as he had to fight off the rear naked choke submission that he succumbed to in two different title fights earlier in his career. But he survived the submissions and was able to make it to the end of the round.

Makhachev continued to score takedowns in the fight, although Poirier started to provide a better response as the bout progressed. He would shut down some attempts, or in other cases spring back up to his feet shortly after the fact.

While Makhachev clearly had an advantage in all departments of the bout, Poirier was visibly growing in confidence and becoming more aggressive as the fight got into deep waters. His best round was arguably the fourth when he out-landed Makhachev for the first time in the fight.

Makhachev shut the door on any chance of an upset win for Poirier late in the bout with a slick finishing sequence. After getting Poirier to the ground by swinging a leg that he had grabbed hold of from a previous takedown attempt, Makhachev looked for a guillotine choke. He then transitioned to a D’Arce Choke, which put Poirier to sleep just moments after he tapped out.

Makhachev has now defended his title three times since earning it with a win over Charles Oliveira in 2022. Last year, the Russian talent overcame featherweight star Alexander Volkanovski in a pair of title bouts.

After his performance on Saturday, Makhachev expressed interest in dominating a second division.

“I want to fight for the second belt,” he said during his post-fight interview. “I want to feel that energy again. Because when you defend your belt, it’s not the same. I need a new one.”

UFC 302 was the third and potentially final chance for Poirier, 35, to become an undisputed champion. While he had previously attained interim champ status, losses to Charles Oliveira and Khabib Nurmagomedov in the past prevented him from being the division’s top name.

After the fight, Poirier questioned if he would return to the cage again.

“If I do fight again, what am I fighting for? … I think this could be it, honestly,” he said. He then thanked the women in his life: his grandmother, mother, wife, and daughter.

Former champ Sean Strickland takes five-round split decision over Paulo Costa

Former UFC  Middleweight Champion Sean Strickland started his run toward another title shot in Saturday’s co-main event, going 25 minutes against Paulo Costa for a split decision win with widely different scorecards (49-46 Costa, 50-45 Strickland & 49-46 Strickland).

Strickland’s classic playbook of using pressure and a high volume of light shots was in play against a backpedalling Costa. He came forward early with teep kicks to the body and jabs, keeping a steady pace from the start of the fight until its end.

Costa was able to land off his backfoot throughout the fight, causing the bout to be quite close in numerous rounds. He frequently threw leg kicks early in the bout, although ran into trouble in the third round when a checked kick caused him to stumble. He would also come forward with shots, but never scored with a blow that put Strickland in significant trouble.

The pedestrian pace of Strickland picked up significantly in the closing seconds of the fight, as he charged forward and dropped Costa with a head kick. The Brazilian contender was able to survive that exchange, as the bout had just moments left by the time he hit the canvas.

Saturday’s five-round co-main event put Strickland back into the win column after losing his middleweight title earlier this year against Dricus Du Plessis. He called for a shot at the belt following his performance on Saturday.

“I was a company man, I fought a ranked seventh guy, give me it now,” said Strickland, referring to a title opportunity.

Kevin Holland survives knockdown, catches Michal Oleksiejczuk in gruesome armbar for early win

Kevin Holland showed his quick wits on Saturday night, avoiding what looked to be a potential early finish loss against Michal Oleksiejczuk and instead finding his own opportunity to end the fight.

Oleksiejczuk dropped Holland early in the first round, putting him on his back with a hard overhand left. But Holland regained his senses shortly after the shot and caught the Polish talent in an armbar, fully extending the arm and gruesomely the limb until the fight was stopped.

The stoppage was protested by Oleksiejczuk, although the way his arm was twisted looked as if a potential serious injury could have been sustained.

“I was trying not to go too hard and then I realized he wasn’t going to tap,” Holland reflected during his post-fight interview.

The fight was Holland’s first appearance at middleweight since 2021, coming after recent losses to Michael Page and Jack Della Maddalena at 170 pounds. When asked afterward whether he would stay at middleweight, Holland seemed indifferent and said it’s up to the promotion.

Oleksiejczuk was returning after getting submitted in 61 seconds by Michel Pereira earlier this year.

Niko Price beats tired Alex Morono

Niko Price dragged Alex Morono to the finish line of their three-round welterweight bout this weekend, out-landing his visibly fatigued opponent throughout a slow-paced slog of a bout.

Morono had a decent start to the fight but saw his chances at winning slip away as his cardio became an issue against Price’s striking. Price pressured Morono in the second round, tying things up after an opening five minutes that went the other way.

Morono’s corner sensed that cardio was a problem and attempted to convince him that a second wind of energy would arrive in the final round.  But that uptick in output from Morono never emerged, securing a win for his opponent.

Slight underdog Price earned his first victory since late 2021 on Saturday night. He was coming off a pair of losses, including a 39-second defeat against now-retired Robbie Lawler last year.

Morono was hoping to build off his April victory over Court McGee.

Randy Brown uses stand-up skills to overcome Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos

Randy Brown showcased his crisp striking in the opening fight of the main card, landing clean against Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos for the majority of a three-round fight to walk away with a decision win.

Brown took over the first and third rounds with damaging shots, including a late knee that opened a cut on dos Santos’ head. Dos Santos was able to have moments of control on the ground, including a large amount of the second round and the closing seconds of the fight. His work on the ground earned him a round on scorecards and saw him come close to securing a rear naked choke, although the successful grappling moments didn’t provide enough enough to secure him a win.

Brown has now won seven of his past eight fights, including a first-round finish against Muslim Salikhov earlier this year. He had his eyes on the welterweight standings on Saturday night and sees a specific fight could get him onto that short list of top fighters.

“Geoff Neal you are that guy right now and I need you,” said Brown during his post-fight interview. “You don’t have a fight, so let’s do it. Me and you, what’s up?

Dos Santos was coming back to the cage after settling for a majority draw against Rinat Fakhretdinov late last year. He had a two-fight streak of victories in the division before then.

Donald Trump makes the trip from New York for a fight night

Just two days after he became the first former U.S. President to be convicted of a felony, Donald Trump decided it was time to take in some fights.

Trump made a cameo on the UFC broadcast at the end of the promotion’s ESPN2 preliminary portion, having his full walk from the backstage area to cageside shown. Less than 15 minutes later, he was given a second cameo on the PPV broadcast, both times being shown alongside Dana White.

The focus on Trump is nothing new for UFC broadcasts, which have helped push the 77-year-old back into the spotlight as he aims for a re-election was president later this year. But his appearance this week came fresh off a high-profile case that saw a jury deem that he ran afoul of the law at a felony level numerous times.

On Thursday, a New York jury ruled Trump guilty of 34 felony counts of falsifying business records before the 2016 election. Prosecutors argued that Trump made discreet, disguised payments to cover up an affair between him and adult film actress Stormy Daniels, doing so in an attempt to influence the outcome of his first presidential bid. The maneuver—which was a violation of laws around campaign finances—is expected to have a verdict announced next month.

Trump received a positive reaction from the live audience inside the Prudential Center. “Boy, the round of applause he’s getting right now is pretty staggering,” noted commentator Joe Rogan.

Prelim results: Roman Kopylov, Jailton Almeida, Grant Dawson score bounce-back performances

Roman Kopylov put an end to Cesar Almeida’s undefeated MMA run in the featured prelim, showing flashes of brilliance on the feet before mainly relying on ground control to prevail in the fight via split decision. Kopylov’s biggest moment on the feet came early when he landed a clean left hook that dropped Almeida hard. Almeida started to put together hard shots later in the round but had his success stunted by numerous takedowns from Kopylov. Almeida, a fighter with loads of kickboxing experience, entered this weekend after winning his UFC debut over Dylan Budka. The performance from Kopylov put him back into the win column after getting submitted by Anthony Hernandez earlier this year.

Jailton Almeida ended the absence of finishes on Saturday night with an early submission against Alexandr Romanov, taking him down early and securing a rear naked choke for a tap in the third minute. The quick performance was a big win for Almeida, who was returning after a brutal defeat earlier this year. The 32-year-old Brazilian had his rise up the heavyweight rankings brought to a sudden halt at UFC 299 earlier this year when Curtis Blaydes stopped a takedown and put him away with ground and pound shots. He now has a solid UFC record of seven wins and one loss, including a pair of main event victories from 2023.

Grant Dawson bounced back from his first UFC loss with a controlling performance against Joe Solecki, getting the fight to the canvas in each round to secure a comfortable decision win. Apart from a guillotine choke that Solecki threatened Dawson with early in the fight, he did little to counter his opponent’s gameplan. Dawson is back in the win column after getting stopped in 33 seconds by Bobby Green last year.

Australia’s Jake Matthews scored a win in his landmark 20th UFC appearance, putting together clean shots on the feet to secure a unanimous decision result against Phil Rowe. After out-landing Rowe in the first and second rounds, Matthews reversed a takedown attempt in the third frame and kept a hold of Rowe for most of the round. Matthews, a decade-long UFC vet, is back in the win column after losing to undefeated contender Michael Morales late last year.

Bassil Hafez overcame the returning Mickey Gall in a hectic three-round brawl, earning a unanimous decision nod in the end. Hafez started the fight strong, clipping Gall at points with punches, but also found himself trying to recover after consuming hard shots later in the fight as well. The fight earned Hafez his first UFC win, coming back after dropping an appearance to Jack Della Maddalena in 2023. Gall, a former CM Punk opponent, was fighting for the first time in two years. Hafez used his post-fight interview to express support for Palestine: “I don’t support innocent women and children being killed for war and for money and power … Free Palestine,” he said.

Bantamweight Ailin Perez prevailed in a grudge match against Joselyne Edwards, using takedowns and solid stand-up moments to secure a unanimous decision win. Perez’s performance included a clean spinning backfist, four different takedowns, and effective striking even when on her back. Perez has now won three UFC fights since last July.

Andre Lima, an undefeated flyweight who made headlines earlier this year after his opponent was disqualified for biting his arm, overcame promotional newcomer Mitch Raposo in the opener to score a second UFC win. Lima was the more active striker of the two in their three-round slow-paced battle, particularly doing damage with kicks to the legs. Lima weighed 130 pounds on Friday for this bout, causing him to miss the flyweight limit by four pounds. Raposo, a former Dana White’s Contender Series and The Ultimate Fighter competitor, was making his UFC debut after Lima’s two previous opponents fell off the card.

About Jack Wannan 251 Articles
Jack Wannan is a journalist from Toronto, Ontario, Canada. He writes and reports on professional wrestling, along with other topics like MMA, boxing, music, local news, and more. He graduated from Toronto Metropolitan University in 2023 with a bachelor's degree in journalism. He can be reached at [email protected]