Five Things We Learned at UFC 302



UFC 302 failed to deliver in only one aspect of the sport – there were only three early finishes in 13 fights. But anyone who watched the actual event will know that the UFC 302 results don't really show the true quality of what the fighters put on last night.

A decision does not translate into a bad fight. But sometimes it does. The card last night had a little bit of everything and definitely taught us a few lessons.

UFC 302 Results: Five Things We Learned

Islam Makhachev vs Dustin Poirier - UFC 302 results

Islam Makhachev is a complete fighter

A huge percentage of the MMA community will never accept that Islam Makhachev is the #1 Pound-For-Pound fighter in the world. And he proved it once again last night. We are used to elite grapplers from Eastern Europe but Makhachev is the rare type who does it all in the Octagon.

When will people realize that he is not just “another wrestler”? He knocked out Volkanovski cold and submitted Charles Oliveira with ease. He is not the type to look for control time and a decision, he always tries to get a submission or hurt his opponent with ground and pound.

As expected, he outclassed Poirier on the ground but the shocking fact is that he was also the better striker last night. Makhachev landed more significant strikes and while Poirier hurt him too, it shows that Islam has grown to be a world-class fighter.

He is not afraid to stand up and enter exchanges with elite strikers, and his opponents will always be at a disadvantage from the constant danger of getting taken down. And on the ground, there isn't a fighter alive who can beat him. Maybe coach Khabib but we believe that Makhachev has already surpassed him.

Dustin Poirier deserves to be in the UFC Hall of Fame

Dustin Poirier failed to win the UFC Lightweight Championship for the third time. Fact. But he is the people's champion and has been for years. If he had been born in a different time, Poirier would have been a legendary champion.

Sadly, this could be it for the Diamond. He said it himself last night in the post-fight interview. And it was expected. He is 35 years old and fighting in the most stacked division in the UFC. Another title shot could only be possible if he wins another two fights against Top 5s.

The fact is that even if Dustin Poirier decides to retire now, he deserves to get inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame one day. Fighters from the ancient days of the promotion have earned a spot for less.

Dustin Poirier has probably fought more of the best fighters in the world than any other athlete on the roster. He's been here since 2011 and fought 31 times in less than 13 years.

He beat Max Holloway and Conor McGregor twice each and defeated Anthony Pettis, Eddie Alvarez, and Justin Gaethje. He has faced more champions than anyone in the lightweight division. And his performance last night, lasting four and a half rounds against Makhachev, was just another testimony of his greatness.

Judges hate Sean Strickland

Regardless if you like or dislike Sean Strickland, he deserves more credit. Especially when it comes to his fights. The man ranks second in the all-time list of most significant strikes landed in the UFC. And he proved that he is an elite striker once again last night when he defeated Paulo Costa.

However, out of all the UFC 302 results, this decision was beyond questionable. Remember when Strickland lost the UFC Middleweight title to Dricus du Plessis after a questionable split decision in January? In fact, we believe that not only he deserved to retain the belt but he should have won with a UD.

Anyway, a similar thing happened last night against Paulo Costa. Strickland dominated at least four of the five rounds, landing considerably more significant strikes. Two of the judges scored it in his favor, 49-46 and 50-45. And then Dave Tirelli, the third judge, shocked the world when he scored the fight 49-46 in favor of Costa.

Shocking. Unfortunately, questionable scoring has become a massive problem in the UFC and it led to multiple bad decisions in the last couple of years.

Kevin Holland is the #1 most unpredictable fighter

This bout was destined to end early but we anticipated a completely different outcome. Especially when both fighters fancy knockouts and have 14 each in their respective careers.

We were worried Holland may be overwhelmed by Michal's pressure and Holland almost got knocked out in the first minute. But not only did he turn the knockdown around and submit Oleksiejczuk within two minutes but he did it with a beautiful armbar, earning a Performance of the Night bonus.

Jailton Almeida can beat anyone on the ground

Jailton Almeida was one of only three fighters to finish their opponents ahead of schedule but we still wouldn't put this among the best UFC 302 results.

One way or another, it was expected. Almeida made an unforgivable mistake against Curtis Blaydes when he was dominating the fight and lost.

As the hyped-up prospect he has been since his debut in 2022, matchmakers immediately gave him an easy fight to make up for that defeat.

This fight against Alexandr Romanov, a distinguished mediocre wrestler, proved that Almeida is already one step ahead of the majority of heavyweights. And as long as he can take his opponent town, he can win the fight.

But he also needs to work on his striking ASAP. Jon Jones is not a factor at this point and Almeida is unlikely to ever face him. But he will have to face Sergei Pavlovich or Tom Aspinall at some point and those guys will put him in a coma.

Overall, other UFC 302 results also deserve a mention but the outcomes of the bouts above are the ones that will cause the biggest shifts in the rankings. This was a solid card and the main event will remain in our minds for years to come.

Vlad is a former amateur MMA fighter. After a series of injuries, he found a different way to connect with the sport and its fanbase - through writing. He's been covering everything-UFC for over 5 years on various platforms and has been part of the team at NYFights since early 2022.