Exclusive: Cory Sandhagen lauds Islam Makhachev's win over Dustin Poirier at UFC 302, says "both of their stock went way up"

Islam Makhachev and Dustin Poirier
Islam Makhachev and Dustin Poirier's thrilling fight at UFC 302 (left) has seemingly impressed Cory Sandhagen (right) [Images courtesy: @ufc and @corysandhagenmma on Instagram]

Cory Sandhagen has weighed in on the Islam Makhachev vs. Dustin Poirier showdown that transpired at UFC 302 (June 1, 2024). 'The Sandman' suggested that the grueling fight between Makhachev and Poirier resulted in both fighters' stocks rising.

Reigning undisputed UFC lightweight champion Makhachev defended his title with a fifth-round submission victory against Dustin Poirier in the headlining match of UFC 302. Though 'The Diamond' was stopped in the final round, there were a few moments in the fight where he displayed exceptional striking and grappling to trouble the otherwise dominant Makhachev.

In a recent interview with James Lynch for Sportskeeda MMA, the No. 2-ranked UFC bantamweight Cory Sandhagen heaped praise on the two lightweight stars. The 32-year-old notably indicated that Poirier displayed better wrestling than he did against Makhachev's friend and training partner, Khabib Nurmagomedov, in the lightweight title showdown in 2019. Sandhagen stated:

"Oh, man. It was such an awesome fight. Jeez! Yeah, I remember watching that fight, being, like, 'Wow! This is maybe one of the -- definitely one of the best fights I've seen in some time.' Just Poirier's, like, heart. Poirier fought real good. It wasn't like a major one-sided fight. I think that Islam was in control most of the time, like, I definitely don't think Poirier won. But it was competitive, and it was awesome."
"Islam got to highlight a lot of his skills that we didn't really know that he had, which was super cool. And yeah, Islam can strike, man. Like, the guy can wrestle, and he can strike. And look at Poirier. Poirier can wrestle a lot better than when he fought Khabib too. I think both of their stock went way up after that one."

Check out Cory Sandhagen's comments below (25:26):

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What's next for Cory Sandhagen, Islam Makhachev, and Dustin Poirier?

During his post-fight octagon interview at UFC 302, former interim UFC lightweight champion Dustin Poirier implied that it was likely his final MMA match and that he'll probably retire. Nevertheless, he acknowledged that his decision wasn't final, thereby leaving the door open for a potential comeback. 'The Diamond' has made similar indications in the ensuing days.

As of this time, neither Poirier nor Islam Makhachev's respective next fights have been officially announced. For Makhachev, it's believed that his likeliest next matchup would be a rematch against Arman Tsarukyan.

Furthermore, Cory Sandhagen is scheduled to face Islam Makhachev's fellow Dagestani grappling savant Umar Nurmagomedov next. Khabib's younger cousin, Umar is viewed as one of the top bantamweights in the world today. The winner of the Sandhagen-Umar fight could be catapulted into the UFC bantamweight title picture.

Their highly-anticipated showdown will headline the UFC on ABC: Sandhagen vs. Nurmagomedov event at the Etihad Arena in Abu Dhabi, UAE, on Aug. 3, 2024.

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Edited by Tejas Rathi
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