MMA Junkie's Fight of the Month for June: Dustin Poirier tests Islam Makhachev, but can't claim UFC lightweight title


With another action-packed month of MMA in the books, MMA Junkie looks at the best fights from June 2024: Here are the five nominees, listed in chronological order, and winner of MMA Junkie’s Fight of the Month award for June.

At the bottom of the post, let us know if we got it right by voting on your choice.

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Nominee: Nassourdine Imavov def. Jared Cannonier at UFC on ESPN 57

Nassourdine Imavov (14-4 MMA, 6-2 UFC) continued his evolution as a surging middleweight contender when he defeated Jared Cannonier (17-7 MMA, 10-7 UFC) – even if it came in controversial fashion.

Imavov rocked Cannonier in the fourth round of the headlining bout after a competitive contest up until that stage. It was shaping up to be even better, but referee Jason Herzog jumped in prematurely and robbed everyone of a cleaner and even more entertaining ending.

Nominee: Brady Hesitant def. Garrett Armfield at UFC on ESPN 58

After pulling off a late submission in his return to action, Brady Hiestand (9-2 MMA, 3-1 UFC) says he’ll stick with the “comeback king” moniker for the time being.

Hiestand overcame a few rough moments against Garrett Armfield (10-4 MMA, 2-2 UFC) in their bantamweight bout. After getting dropped and avoiding a finish, Hiestand was able to flip the script and catch Armfield in a rear-naked choke to force the tap less than two minutes into the final round.

Nominee: Nasrat Haqparast def. Jared Gordon at UFC on ABC 6

Nasrat Haqparast (17-5 MMA, 9-4 UFC) and Jared Gordon (20-7 MMA, 8-6 UFC) put on for the lightweight division at UFC’s Saudi Arabia debut, and in the end the judges had a hard time picking a winner.

After exchanging for three rounds and busting up each other’s faces, Haqparast got the split decision nod over Gordon. It was a close one to call given the competitive striking and grappling, but Haqparast got the win.

Nominee: Andre Fili def. Cub Swanson at UFC 303

All-action featherweight veterans Andre Fili (24-11 MMA, 12-10 UFC) and Cub Swanson (29-14 MMA, 14-10 UFC) turned in a fun 15-minute scrap that split the judges and led to a Fight of the Night bonus.

After trading shots for the majority of three rounds, the dust settled, then two judges saw the bout in favor of Fili over Swanson with duelling scores of 29-28.

The winner

The winner: Islam Makhachev def. Dustin Poirier at UFC 302

Dustin Poirier had 25 minutes to finish the story, but Islam Makhachev wrote an alternate ending.

In an all-time thrilling battle, Makhachev (25-1 MMA, 14-1 UFC) submitted Poirier (30-8 MMA, 22-7 UFC) with a D’Arce choke at the 2:42 mark of Round 5. The lightweight title bout was the UFC 302 main event.

Poirier immediately found himself in deep, dangerous waters early in Round 1, as Makhachev almost immediately took him down. Makhachev worked to the back but Poirier’s rear-naked choke defense was sufficient enough to survive the round.

As Round 2 progressed, Poirier found increasing success. He stuffed Makhachev’s takedown attempts, though each sequence was a lengthy struggle. Poirier found success in the pocket and in the clinch, particularly with a left elbow.

With each strike Poirier landed, Prudential Center burst into deafening cheers. Chants of “F*ck you, Islam,” also proved this was Poirier’s turf.

But Makhachev blocked out the thousands of expletives spit his way. In Round 3, he landed some hard punches on Poirier before he dragged it to the canvas once again. Poirier dug deep, raised to the feet, and shoved Makhachev off.

Upon the break, Poirier blew out a half-booger, half-blood hybrid and marched forward. Poirier landed on Makhachev, who returned. The two fighters exchanged blows until the end-of-round horn. Poirier stuck out his tongue as he walked back to the corner, his eyes swollen.

Both fighters showed wear, tear, and fatigue in the early stages of the championship rounds. An initially-slow clinch sequence against the cage burst into a Poirier body shot barrage as he punished the champion’s midsection.

As they separated, Poirier came on strong. He sliced Makhachev badly above the left eye. At the end of the round, the two fighters came forehead-to-forehead, leaving blood prints on one another.

In the final round, Makhachev engaged Poirier in a takedown attempt. He was relentless and used a single-leg takedown that tripped Poirier. Makhachev eventually worked for a guillotine choke that he switched to a D’Arce to get the tap.

guillotine choke that he switched to a D’Arce to get the tap.

Poirier remained down while doctors and commission officials tended to him. Makhachev’s team hopped the cage in celebration.

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