‘Don’t say that’: Islam Makhachev takes issue with Dustin Poirier insult at UFC 302 press conference

Islam Makhachev and Dustin Poirier were held back from each other at the UFC 302 press conference on Thursday, after the Russian took issue with an insult by his opponent.

Makhachev is set to defend the lightweight title against Poirier on Saturday (1 June), as the American tries to win undisputed UFC gold at the third – and surely final – time of asking.

Poirier, a former interim champion, was submitted by Charles Oliveira in 2021 while challenging for the official belt, two years after being submitted by Khabib Nurmagomedov in another title fight.

Five years on, Khabib will be in the corner of his childhood friend Makhachev in New Jersey, as the pound-for-pound No 1 defends the strap against Poirier. And while the build to the main event has been largely cordial, things got heated at Thursday’s press conference.

“I don’t understand you,” Poirier told Makhachev, after failing to hear what the Russian said at the start of their face-off. “I’m gonna knock you out Saturday. I’m gonna sleep-slap you.

“You’re gonna be diving for my legs, praying. You’re gonna be laying and praying, that’s what you’re gonna be doing. You’re going to sleep, motherf****r.”

Makhachev took issue with Poirier’s final insult, saying: “Don’t say ‘motherf****r’.” When Poirier repeated the word, Makhachev reiterated: “Don’t say ‘motherf****r’.”

As Makhachev, 32, was held back by security, Poirier said: “I have respect for you, brother. We’re gonna fight.”

Poirier, 35, has hinted that he could retire after his fight with Makhachev, regardless of the result.