Will ‘paid in full’ equal a title win for Dustin Poirier vs. Islam Makhachev? | ESPN MMA

>> WELL, DUSTIN POIRIER IS NO STRANGER TO A UFC TITLE FIGHT. HE WON INTERIM GOLD BY DEFEATING THEN-FEATHERWEIGHT CHAMP MAX HOLLOWAY IN 2019. TRIED TO UNIFY THEM AGAINST THE LEGEND KHABIB NURMAGOMEDOV. LOST BY SUBMISSION. IN 2021, GOT BACK THERE AGAIN, LOST TO CHARLES OLIVEIRA BY SUBMISSION. A VERY

ENTERTAINING FIGHT. THIS IS A SPORT IN WHICH YOU CAN’T SAY, LIKE, HEY, ANY ABSOLUTES. IS THIS HIS LAST CHANCE? YOU CAN’T REALLY SAY THAT. THIS SPORT IS LITTERED WITH ALL KINDS OF THINGS THAT WE DIDN’T FORESEE COMING BUT HE HAS SAID IT IS HIS LAST SHOT. DO YOU

BELIEVE IT IS HIS LAST SHOT THAT WE SEE ON SATURDAY? >> YES, I THINK IT IS. BUT THERE IS SOMETHING ABOUT THIS DISCUSSION THAT IS MAKING PEOPLE FORGET HISTORY. AND I’M NOT TALKING ABOUT ANCIENT EVENTS, I’M TALKING ABOUT THE LAST 12 MONTHS. DUSTIN FOUGHT FOR A CHAMPIONSHIP. HE

THEN HAD A MATCH THAT TURNED OUT TO BE A NUMBER ONE CONTENDER’S MATCH AND NOW HE’S RIGHT HERE IN THE WORLD TITLE FIGHT WHERE HE BELONGS. AND I ONLY BRING THAT BECAUSE WHEN DUSTIN TALKS ABOUT I’M NOT GOING TO BE IN THE SPOT AND I’M OLDER AND IT’S

A DIFFERENT ERA WITH ISLAM AND SO WHETHER I BEAT HIM OR DON’T, THIS IS GOOD-BYE. IT SOUNDS AS THOUGH HE DOESN’T QUITE

BELONG HERE AND I’M JUST HERE TO CORRECT YOU. THAT’S NOT WHAT HE’S SAYING. THAT WOULD BE A MISINTERPRETATION. A LOT OF PEOPLE HAVE FORGOT, BUT THIS

IS NOT A SHORT NOTICE FIGHT AND FIVE-ROUND FIGHTS IS NOTHING NEW FOR THE DIAMOND. >> I THINK WHEN HE SAYS THAT THIS IS IT FOR HIM AND HE’S NOT GOING TO CLIMB HIS WAY BACK UP, IT’S NOT A QUESTION OF CAN HE. DOES HE WANT TO? I THINK

HE’S GOT A WHOLE OTHER LIFETIME AHEAD OF HIM. HE HAS A LOT OF THINGS OUTSIDE OF THIS. TALKED ABOUT WANTING TO BE A DAD AND HUSBAND AND HAVE A SCHEDULE. ALL THOSE THINGS ARE HARD TO DO WHEN YOU’RE A CHAMPIONSHIP CONTENDER IN THE UFC. SO THERE’S A PART

OF ME THAT WIN, LOSE OR DRAW, I’M EXCITED FOR HIM TO CLOSE THIS CHAPTER OF HIS LIFE BECAUSE HE SEEMS EXCITED ABOUT IT. >> LIKE YOU SAID, HE’S STATED THIS WILL BE HIS LAST TIME AND I LOVE THE PHRASE, PAID IN FULL. RIGHT? BECAUSE WHAT EXACTLY IS BEING

PAID IN FULL? LET’S TALK ABOUT THAT. THERE IS A DEBT THAT YOU INCUR WITH THE UNIVERSE WHEN YOU SAY, I WANT TO BE THE BEST IN THE WORLD. THERE’S A DEBT YOU INCUR. AND THE JOURNEY IS HOW YOU PAY IT BACK. IN BLOOD AND SWEAT AND TEARS AND

FOR MANY PEOPLE, LOST Referee: S, MISSING YOUR KIDS’ SPORTS GAMES, WHATEVER IT IS. DUSTIN POIRIER HAS PAID HIS DEBT IN FULL. HE DOESN’T OWE ANYTHING LEFT TO THIS JOURNEY. HE OWES NOTHING LEFT. HE HAS BEATEN FIVE UNDISPUTED CHAMPIONS IN HIS PAST. GOOD NIGHT HAS DONE IT ALL EXCEPT

ONE THING. >> WHEN YOU LISTEN TO LAURA DESCRIBE IT THAT WAY, IT’S HARD TO NOT WANT TO SEE DUSTIN POIRIER FINISH HIS STORY HERE ON SATURDAY. ANTHONY, HE HAS HAD AN INCREDIBLE CAREER, BUT WE ARE HELD SOMETIMES, ESPECIALLY IN THIS INDUSTRY, TO WHAT DID YOU DO IN THE

VERY BIGGEST MOMENTS? IF HE DOES NOT GET IT DONE ON SATURDAY, WHAT DOES IT DO TO HIS LEGACY? >> I DON’T THINK IT DOES ANYTHING TO HIS LEGACY. THE WAY HE FOUGHT, THE MOMENTS HE GAVE US, I THINK HE’LL BE THE ONE THAT WILL HAVE A PROBLEM WITH

IT. HE’LL HAVE — HE HAS TO BE THE ONE THAT HAS TO SLEEP WITH THAT AND HE’S GOT TO LIVE WITH THE FACT THAT IF HE LOSES, HE’LL NEVER WIN AN UNDISPUTED TITLE. I THINK THE REST OF US AS CONSUMERS OF HIS PRODUCT AND PEOPLE THAT WATCH HIS

JOURNEY AND GUYS LIKE ME WHO MAKE THAT SAME WALK BUT WANT TO BE LIKE HIM, TO US IT DOESN’T MATTER WHETHER HE WINS OR NOT. IT’S THIS HAS AN URGENCY BUTERE NOT A DESPERATENESS. >> I THINK IF HE DOESN’T COME AWAY WITH A WIN, IT WON’T CHANGE ANYTHING

FOR THE FANS. I THINK FOR THE FANS IT’S LARGELY ACADEMIC. I THINK FOR HIM IT WOULD BE CATHARTIC. FOR US, I DON’T KNOW THAT IT CHANGES HOW WE TALK ABOUT HIM. IF 1,000 YEARS FROM NOW WHEN YOU OPEN THE HISTORY BOOKS, THIS IS THE HISTORY OF THE UFTS,

IT’S GOING TO SAY DUSTIN POIRIER WAS ONE OF THE BEST LIGHTWEIGHTS TO EVER DO IT. HE FOUGHT IN THE HARDEST DIVISION, HE FOUGHT ALL THE HARDEST GUYS. HE LAID IT OUT THERE EVERY SINGLE TIME, HE GAVE IT ALL TO US AND HE HELD NOTHING BACK THE ENTIRE TIME.

CLOSE THE BOOK. >> THERE IS NO QUESTION HE’LL BE REMEMBERED AS ONE OF THE GREATEST LIGHTWEIGHTS OF ALL TIME. ISLAM MAKHACHEV ON THE OTHER HAND, HE’S TRYING TO BE REMEMBERED AS THE GREATEST LIGHTWEIGHT OF ALL TIME. AND HE’S BUILDING QUITE A RESUME. YOU SEE IT THERE, 12-FIGHT WIN

STREAK. THREE TITLE FIGHT WINS, 61% SIGNIFICANT STRIKE ACCURACY. TOUGH TO TAKE THIS GUY DOWN AS IT IS WITH ALL THOSE WRESTLERS. 91% OF THE TIME IT DOES NOT COME UP YOUR WAY. ISLAM MAKHACHEV HAS BEEN A PLEASURE TO WATCH AND THEN YOU KNOW WHO IS ALSO A PLEASURE

TO WATCH? KHABIB NURMAGOMEDOV WHO IS HIS MENTOR AND HE WILL BE IN THE CORNER ON SATURDAY. HOW EXCITED ARE YOU TO SEE THAT? >> THIS IS A COMMON OPPONENT. IT’S A BIG DEAL. ISLAM AND KHABIB ARE NOT LOOKING TO BATTLE EACH OTHER FOR LEGACY. THEY HOPE THE BEST

FOR EACH OTHER. THAT’S REAL, NOT JUST WORDS. BUT I’LL SHARE WITH YOU THE MEDIA KEEPS DOING IT, WE KEEP DOING IT. WE KEEP HAVING THIS DEBATE AND HAVING COMMON OPPONENTS DOES MATTER. IT’S NOT ENOUGH FOR ISLAM TO GO OUT AND DEFEAT THIS GENTLEMAN IN DUSTIN POIRIER. HE HAS

TO DEFEAT HIM FASTER THAN KHABIB DID, AT LEAST IF HE WANTS TO CAPTIVATE THE HEADLINES COME MONDAY. >> AND IT’S A BIG DEAL TO HAVE KHABIB IN HIS CORNER. NOT JUST BECAUSE THEY BOTH ARE FIGHTING DUSTIN POIRIER. IT’S A BIG DEAL BECAUSE ON FIGHT NIGHT, DUSTIN POIRIER HAS

TO LOOK ACROSS THAT OCTAGON AND NOT JUST MAKE CONTACT WITH ISLAM MAKHACHEV. HE HAS TO LOOK RIGHT OVER ISLAM’S SHOULDER AND SEE THE MAN WHO TOOK THE BELT AWAY FROM HIM, THE OPPORTUNITY FOR THE BELT AWAY FROM HIM THE FIRST TIME. THAT’S A BIG DEAL. HE HAS TO

FIGHT THAT GHOST. >> IT IS A BIG DEAL. AND FOR ME, I LOOK AT IT ANOTHER WAY. IN TERMS OF THE HELP THAT KHABIB WAS GOING TO GIVE HIM. WHEN I’M IN TROUBLE AND THINGS AREN’T GOING MY WAY AND I’M HURT OR I’M TIRED OR THINGS ARE NOT

GOING MY WAY, I ALWAYS LOOK DIRECTLY TO SCOTT BHO HAS BEEN IN MY CORNER, NOT BECAUSE I NEED ADVICE. I NEED HIM TO HELP ME. I HAVE NO MORE ANSWERS. I’M STUCK. I’M TIRED. I NEED YOU TO TELL ME WHAT I NEED TO DO. BECAUSE MY BRAIN ISN’T

WORKING RIGHT NOW. KHABIB IS NO BETTER OF A PERSON FOR ISLAM TO LOOK TO BECAUSE THAT’S WHAT HE’S MOLDED HIS ENTIRE CAREER AFTER. HE’S LITERALLY THE GLUE TO ISLAM MAKHACHEV. >> QUITE AN INTIMIDATING THING FOR DUSTIN POIRIER TO LOOK ACROSS AT THE NUMBER ONE POUND FOR POUND FIGHTER

IN THE WORLD AND OH, BY THE WAY, THE OLD NUMBER ONE POUND FOR POUND FIGHTER IN THE WORLD IS RIGHT BEHIND HIM. ISLAM WHEN YOU’RE AT THE TOP, YOU’RE GOING TO BE FIGHTING GREAT FIGHTERS. HE JUST CAME OFF TWO FIGHTS BUT SOME SAY YOU LOOK AT DUSTIN, HE’S

A FULL-SIZED LIGHTWEIGHT. HE HAS THE FINISHING ABILITY. MAYBE HE IS THE TOUGHEST TEST. DO YOU THINK DUSTIN POIRIER IS THE TOUGHEST TEST OF ISLAM’S KREERN SATURDAY? >> ON PAPER HE’S NOT. HE SIMPLY ISN’T. WE HAVE SEEN DUSTIN STRUGGLE WITH STRONG GRAPPLERS ON MORE THAN ONE OCCASION SO ON

PAPER HE IS NOT. HOWEVER, FIGHTS ARE NOT FOUGHT ON PAPER. PAPER DOESN’T ACCOUNT FOR HEART OR STORYLINES. SO YOU HAVE TO BE A COMPLETE FIGHTER, LIKE A WELL-PREPARED ALEXANDER WAS TO REALLY GIVE ISLAM MAKHACHEV PROBLEMS. >> I THINK WE’RE GOING TO DISAGREE HERE. I THINK THAT DUSTIN POIRIER

IS THE MOST DANGEROUS FIGHTER ISLAM HAS EVER FOUGHT. JUST IN HIS WAYS TO FINISH, THE POWER IN HIS HAND, HIS CRAFTINESS AND EXPERIENCE. I THINK VOL IS THE MOST SKILLED BUT HE’S SMALL. HE’S SMALL FOR 145. SO HE’S DEFINITELY SMALL AT LIGHTWEIGHT. I THINK DUSTIN POIRIER BRINGS MORE

PROBLEMS THAN ANYONE ISLAM’S BEEN ACROSS FROM. >> AND DUSTIN POIRIER BEING THE OLDEST OPPONENT AND THE LOWEST RANKED OPPONENT FOR ISLAM, I THINK ADDS TO HIS DANGER. WHEN YOU HAVE NOTHING TO LOSE, NOT ONLY DOES THAT HELP DUSTIN, IT HURTS ISLAM. WHEN ISLAM HAS ALL THESE

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