It took Dustin Poirier nearly nine years to lock down his first shot at an undisputed Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) title and it all disappeared in a matter of moments.
That’s because Poirier was matched up against reigning UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov at UFC 242 last September. While “Diamond” is a capable veteran who had captured consecutive wins over Max Holloway, Justin Gaethje, Anthony Pettis, and Eddie Alvarez leading into the fight, Khabib was simply on another level. There’s a reason why the Russian star is undefeated at 28-0 and Poirier found that out the hard way, which came in the form of a third-round submission loss (see it HERE).
While Poirier was understandably devastated by the defeat and even briefly contemplated retirement, he isn’t the first fighter to feel the wrath of Khabib. Over the past few years, Nurmagomedov has dominated the likes of Conor McGregor, Al Iaquinta, Edson Barboza, and Michael Johnson. Poirier just happened to be the next guy in line in Khabib’s pursuit for greatness.
But unlike may of those other fighters, Poirier actually had Khabib in trouble during their fairly lopsided title fight. It may have been Poirier’s only shining moment at UFC 242, but “Diamond” nearly ended Khabib via guillotine choke midway through the bout.
“It was close,” said Poirier during a recent appearance on the UFC Unfiltered podcast (shown above). “It was as close as it can get. I would have finished a lot of guys in the UFC with that choke — a lot of guys. And I finish a lot of guys in the gym, all the time.
“Doing jiu jitsu as long as you have, and just having a feel, if there’s a centimetre of space where [Nurmagomedov] can roll his hips to the mat and just create a little bit of space and a little bit of breathing space… I should have went full guard,” Poirier continued. “I should have controlled his whole body and his hips. I could have really folded him over there if I had really went full guard. Simple things like that which would have finished 90 percent of the guys — that ten percent or five percent that Khabib is in, you just don’t finish guys with that.
“It has to be perfect, and it’s my fault,” Poirier concluded. “It’s a lag and a mistake in technique and it’s all on me.”
While it’s never completely good for the psyche to look back and wonder what could have been done differently, at least Poirier can pinpoint a moment in the fight that he almost defeated the unbeatable Khabib. It not only helps “Diamond” cope with his first loss since 2016 but it proves to every other contender at 155 pounds that Nurmagomedov has holes in his game just like everybody else. Those holes may be smaller, which is exactly what Poirier describes, but they are there.
For now, Poirier will go back to the drawing board and prepare himself for a potential clash with Dan Hooker at UFC San Diego this May. But with the ongoing COVID-19 virus putting a stranglehold on everyday American life, “Diamond’s” return to the Octagon may be pushed back even further.