Saturday, December 3, 2022

Dustin Poirier Suggests Gaethje/Makhachev Title Eliminator Bout

Dustin Poirier has suggested a title eliminator between former interim champion Justin Gaethje and surging Dagestani Islam Makhachev.

The debate over who deserves the first lightweight title shot of 2022 has picked up pace in recent weeks. The first man to stake his claim for a meeting with the champ was Makhachev. The 30-year-old extended his winning streak to nine in Abu Dhabi last month. At UFC 267, he faced Dan Hooker, who stepped in to replace the injured Rafael dos Anjos. With a brutal kimura, Makhachev secured a first-round submission victory.

Having previously finished Drew Dober and Thiago Moisés this year, and ascended into the lightweight top five, Makhachev believes he has earned a championship opportunity, something that’s being heavily pushed by his friend and teammate Khabib Nurmagomedov.

On the other side of the coin is Gaethje. “The Highlight” held the interim gold last year and was the last man to challenge the dominance of Khabib. After over a year away from the cage following his loss to “The Eagle,” Gaethje returned to action at UFC 268 earlier this month. In a Fight of the Year contender, the brawler outpointed Michael Chandler, who’d fought for the title at UFC 262 in May this year.

Having held the interim strap in 2020, defeated one half of the most recent title fight, and maintained his place as the #2 man in the weight class, Gaethje believes he’s at the top of the queue. He has said he’ll “riot” if he isn’t granted the next shot at the champion.

Poirier has A Solution To The Debate

With the battle of ranking and competition level versus form and winning streak raging on, the current number one contender has given his take on his division’s title picture. After defeating MMA’s biggest superstar Conor McGregor twice this year, Poirier will challenge for Charles Oliveira’s gold in the UFC 269 main event on December 11.

During a recent appearance on Ariel Helwani’s The MMA Hour, Poirier discussed who he believes he should be facing next if he emerges victorious over “Do Bronx.” After clarifying that it ultimately won’t be his call, the Louisianan suggested Makhachev and Gaethje should simply meet in the cage to determine the next challenger.

“[Gaethje’s] victory over Michael Chandler] is one fight since the title fight. So obviously, he’s still the #2-ranked guy. Islam is on a huge streak. It’s not my call. I don’t know. Maybe Islam needs to fight one more top contender and then he’s next. I don’t know. Maybe Gaethje should fight Islam. That way, settle it. That’s the beautiful thing about fighting, right? You can just fight it out.”

Do you agree with Dustin Poirier? Should Gaethje and Makhachev collide in a title eliminator?