Benoit Saint Denis: Islam Makhachev favored at UFC 302, but ‘nobody can give Dustin Poirier no chance’

Benoit Saint Denis says you can’t completely rule out Dustin Poirier’s chances of beating Islam Makhachev.

Poirier (30-8 MMA, 22-7 UFC) challenges Makhachev (25-1 MMA, 14-1 UFC) for the lightweight title in the UFC 302 headliner June 1 at Prudential Center in Newark, N.J.

Poirier closed as an underdog when he knocked out Saint Denis (13-2 MMA, 5-2 UFC) to earn a shot at Makhachev. The odds are stacked against him once again when he takes on the UFC’s No. 1 pound-for-pound fighter, but Saint Denis thinks “The Diamond” has the skills to pull off an upset.

“He’s precise, he’s well rounded, he’s composed,” Saint Denis told MMA Junkie of Poirier. “He’s able to weather the storm, a lot of experience, tough guy. Nobody can give Poirier no chance at all at winning any fight in the lightweight division. Of course, Makhachev is well rounded. He will be well prepared. I do know what type of game plan Makhachev is going to have against Poirier.

“It’s very obvious. He will try to follow (Nurmagomedov’s) steps or Charles Oliveira’s steps because it seems to be the easiest path to victory against Poirier, but Poirier will work on that, as well. He’s also well rounded, and it will be a great fight. He can get it done, but of course the favorite is the champion.”

Poirier wasn’t the initial choice for Makhachev’s next title defense, but after Arman Tsarukyan declined a short-notice opportunity, Poirier received the call.

Saint Denis isn’t surprised to see Poirier be the one.

“Not at all,” Saint Denis said. “It’s all a question of calendars. If you look at who is booked and who is not and who has faced who, the age, the placement of these guys, the grind, it’s not something undeserved. A lot of guys deserve the title shot, but this time it was him. He did great, so well deserved.”

For more on the cards, visit MMA Junkie’s event hub for UFC 302.

Story originally appeared on MMA Junkie