UFC 302 Odds: Makhachev opens as a massive favorite vs. Poirier

UFC 302 Odds: Makhachev opens as a massive favorite vs. Poirier

The main event for UFC 302 on June 1 at Prudential Arena in Newark, New Jersey, is now official, with lightweight champion Islam Makhachev set to take on third-ranked contender Dustin ‘The Diamond’ Poirier.

BetRivers opened Makhachev (25-1 MMA, 14-1 UFC) as a -400 ‘chalk’ vs. Poirier, who is a +280 underdog. DraftKings opened Makhachev as a -470 favorite at 12:05 p.m. Eastern today, but that number was quickly adjusted to -440.

As of 4:00 p.m. Eastern, Makhachev was at -455 with Poirier at +350 on the comeback.

This will be Makhachev’s third title defense since winning the belt from Charles ‘Do Bronx’ Oliveira via second-round submission at UFC 280 on Oct. 22 of 2022.

(*Note: Poirier was ranked #3 in the lightweight loop when this article was published on Sunday. However, the #1 contender Oliveira lost a split decision last night to fourth-ranked Arman Tsarukyan at UFC 300. Also, #2 contender Justin ‘The Highlight’ Gaethje lost to Max Holloway by fifth-round knockout. Therefore, I expect Poirier to either be the #1 or #2 contender when the new rankings are released on Monday.)

Since taking the belt from Oliveira, Makhachev has successfully defended his strap twice. In his first title defense, the 32-year product of Dagestan defeated then-featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski via unanimous decision (49-46, 48-47, 48-47) at UFC 284 on Feb. 12 of 2023.

Makhachev was scheduled to face Oliveira in a rematch at UFC 294 on Oct. 21 of last year, but Oliveira was forced to withdraw from the bout after suffering a cut over his eye in his last sparring session two weeks ahead of the contest. Therefore, Volkanovski agreed to step in on 11 days of notice and provide a different rematch.

The first meeting between Islam and Volk won 2023 Fight of the Year honors. However, Makhachev didn’t need 25 minutes and five full rounds to get the job done in the second encounter. In fact, he needed merely three minutes and six seconds to dispose of Volkanovski via first-round KO (head kick and punches).

Makhachev is on a 13-fight winning streak since getting KO’d by Adriano Martins in his second career Octagon appearance at UFC 192 on Oct. 3 of 2015. His victims have included 155ers like Bobby ‘King’ Green, Dan ‘Hangman’ Hooker, Thiago Moises, Drew Dober, Nik Lentz, Gleison Tibau and Tsarukyan.

Makhachev owns five career wins by KO and 11 via submissions.

Poirier (30-8-0-1 MMA, 22-7-0-1 UFC) is the former UFC interim lightweight champion who is getting his third shot at undisputed UFC gold. The 35-year-old American Top Team member is off a second-round KO win over Benoit Saint Denis at UFC 299 on March 9.

Poirier won the interim belt by besting Holloway via UD at UFC 236 on April 13 of 2019. The Lafayette, LA., product attempted to become the undisputed lightweight kingpin at UFC 242 in Abu Dhabi on Sept. 7 of 2019, but he lost by third-round submission to Makhachev’s coach, teammate and first cousin, Khabib ‘The Eagle’ Nurmagomedov, who went on to retire with an unbeaten 29-0 career record in 2020.

Poirier bounced back from the loss to Nurmagomedov to go on a three-fight winning streak, including two KO wins over Conor McGregor at UFC 257 and UFC 264. That three-fight surge earned him another title shot against Oliveira at UFC 269.

Poirier busted Oliveira up early and often in the opening frame and was doing the same thing again in the early stages of Round 2. However, the momentum of the fight changed midway through the second stanza when Oliveira was able to get the fight to the ground.

Then in Round 3, Oliveira was able to submit Poirier 62 seconds into the frame with a rear-naked choke.

As he’s been prone to do throughout his storied career, Poirier once again responded well with a third-round submission win over Michael Chandler at UFC 281. The bout earned Fight of the Night honors, with Poirier and Chandler both taking home a $50,000 bonus.

On July 29 of last summer, Poirier and Gaethje rematched at UFC 291 in Salt Lake City. Poirier won the opening round, but Gaethje scored a second-round KO victory with a head kick.

After pondering retirement, Poirier decided otherwise and ended Saint Denis’s five-fight winning streak as a +185 underdog.

Poirier has fought nearly all of the best fighters on the roster during his decorated run in both the featherweight and lightweight division. He owns six wins over former UFC champions, beating Holloway (twice), McGregor (twice), Gaethje and Anthony ‘Showtime’ Pettis. He’s also beaten Chandler and Eddie Alvarez, who were both world champions in other promotions.

Other notable scalps for Poirier include Jim Miller, Bobby Green, Hooker, Joe Duffy and Yancy Medeiros.

Poirier has 15 career wins by KO and eight via submissions. He’s been KO’d three times and submitted three times.

The odds are also out for the UFC 302 co-main event. In a pivotal middleweight scrap, DraftKings opened Sean Strickland as a -185 favorite vs. Paulo Costa earlier today.

That number has moved to -192, leaving Costa as a +160 underdog.

BetRivers has Strickland as a -245 ‘chalk,’ leaving Costa at +180 on the comeback.

Strickland is in bounce-back mode after losing his middleweight belt to Dricus Du Plessis via split decision at UFC 297 in January. Costa is also off a loss after dropping a unanimous decision to Robert Whittaker (29-28, 30-27, 29-28) in the UFC 298 co-main event in February.