Lightweight champion Makhachev (25-1 MMA, 14-1 UFC) submitted Oliveira to capture the vacant title in a dominant win at UFC 280 in October 2022. Since then, Oliveira rebounded with a first-round TKO of Beneil Dariush to earn another crack at Oliveira.
Oliveira (34-9 MMA, 22-9 UFC) holds wins over every fighter in the UFC’s top five lightweight rankings, including Poirier. So, “The Diamond” thinks if Oliveira’s mind is right, he can beat Makhachev.
“If Oliveira’s mindset is in, if he’s the same guy who fought me, who fought (Michael) Chandler, I think he can win that fight,” Poirier told MMA Junkie. “I don’t think he wanted to fight in that title fight. He looked like he didn’t want to be there. He quit on himself, it looked like.
“That’s my opinion. But I know personally he has the skills to beat the best guys in the world, and he has done that time and time again. If he goes in there with his mindset locked in, ready to go, I think he can beat him.”
Makhachev is coming off back-to-back wins over featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski – once by decision, and the other by first-round head kick knockout at UFC 294.
Poirier (29-8 MMA, 21-7 UFC) also got the call to step in against Makhachev at UFC 294 after Oliveira withdrew due to a cut, but the promotion ultimately chose Volkanovski. Poirier only expects Makhachev to continue growing after finishing Volkanovski.
“He’s been competing for a long time. He’s the champ. He’s defending his belt. He’s only going to continue to get better,” Poirier said. “He’s surrounded by great guys, a great camp, great team, and he’s going to continue to get better. Everybody’s getting so good at everything. Looking at somebody as a one-dimensional fighter – those days are kind of gone.”