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UFC 302 – Biggest Winners & Losers

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The latest UFC pay per view is now one for the books and the countdown continues towards the next one. UFC 302 provided strong performances, talking points and controversies.

In the main event, Islam Makhachev came through a war with Dustin Poirier to record a fifth round submission to regain his lightweight title.

In the co-main event, Sean Strickland put in yet another underwhelming performance to outpoint Paulo Costa across five rounds.

Elsewhere, Kevin Holland and Jailton Almeida got back in the win column in an event which featured nine decisions.

We take a look at the biggest winners and losers of the night.

UFC 302’s Biggest Winners

Arman Tsarukyan

Yes. Although Arman Tsarukyan wasn’t involved in UFC 302 in any way, he’s one of our biggest winners. If Poirier would have defeated Makhachev, there could have been calls for a rematch, depending on how the fight went.

Luckily for the clear #1 contender, Tsarukyan, this wasn’t the case and therefore, barring injury, he should be next.

Israel Adesanya

Again, another man who wasn’t on the card, however, shines as one of our winners is the former middleweight champion, Israel Adesanya. If Sean Strickland would have put in a dominant performance against Costa, there could have been calls to slot him straight into a rematch with the champion, Dricus du Plessis.

Due to his lacklustre performance against the Brazilian (something he admitted himself post fight), there’s almost no chance that Strickland gets the next shot, opening the door for The Last Stylebender¬†to clash with the South African champion.

Kevin Holland

After getting dropped early in the fight, Kevin Holland rallied to break the arm of his opponent, Michal Oleksiejczuk. After taking the fight on relatively short notice up at middleweight, it could have reflected badly on him had he lost the bout.

After a rough start, Holland locked in and snapped the arm of Oleksiejczuk, securing himself a performance of the night bonus in just 1:34.

UFC 302’s Biggest Losers

Dustin Poirier

Three title fights, three losses (all by submission). It’s rough for¬†The Diamond. It was last chance saloon for Poirier at tasting UFC gold and although he put it all out there, left everything in the octagon and did his absolute best, on the night, it wasn’t enough and Makhachev was simply too good.

The former interim champion is now unlikely to ever hold undisputed UFC gold after his most recent loss and is staring down the barrel of retirement.

Mickey Gall

0-3 and without a win since 2021, it’s time for Mickey Gall to see the door. After bursting onto the UFC scene in ‘the fight to welcome CM Punk to the UFC‘ and also calling out and getting the Sage Northcutt fight, it’s gone down hill since there. This was the last time (2016) that he put back to back wins together.

Every time that he took the step up in competition, he was unable to get the win, which was the case on Saturday night against Bassil Hafez.

Paulo Costa

From 13-0 to 14-4, Costa has never hit the heights that many believed that he would when he began his explosive UFC career. There are holes in his game (cardio) that he has never been able to figure out.

After competing for the belt, he’s gone 1-4 and the only win he has in that time is against Luke Rockhold, a man who had been out of action for three years prior to their bout and was far past his best.

Costa will likely stay in the mix at middleweight, however, a title shot has never seemed so far away at the current time.

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Frazer Krohn has been with MMASucka for nearly 5 years. He is the host of the MMASucka podcast, which is released every Monday. He's the author of a series of six books about MMA, which were published in 2023.