Dustin Poirier reacts to UFC 302 loss, ponders future: ‘What else am I fighting for?’

NEWARK, N.J. – Dustin Poirier isn’t sure what’s next.

Heading into UFC 302, Poirier (30-9 MMA, 22-8 UFC) considered whatever happened in Saturday’s title fight “destiny.” But now that he’s found out winning was not in the cards, Poirier struggles to decipher what it all means for his future.

As he sat on stage with his red “WAR” hat and floral shirt after his submission loss to Islam Makhachev, Poirier worked through the debate aloud, though he knew a decision would not come in the immediate.

“I was fighting to be the world champion,” Poirier told MMA Junkie and other reporters at a post-fight news conference. “What else am I fighting for? Just to fight for the thrill – because I am addicted to it, no doubt … for the money? I’m good.

“Me and my family are good. I don’t need the money. Money is great, but my health is first. What am I fighting for? To be the champion, again? Will I ever get that shot, even if I get on a streak? I don’t know. But it’s such a tough mountain to climb that I’ve climbed so many times.

Poirier, 35, is a perennial contender and showed elite skills during his main event vs. Makhachev (26-1 MMA, 15-1 UFC) at Prudential Center. The fight was his third failed title defense.

“I’m 35 and I see people and hear people say, ‘That’s not old.’ But I have 50 fights,” Poirier said. “I’ve been fighting since I was 17 years old. I fought my first cage fight when I was 18. I have 10 fights that aren’t on my record. I’ve just got to digest everything, talk to my family, talk to my coaches, and see. There’s no rush on it but this could be my last fight. I don’t know. I’ve just got to get home and see what I’m fighting for.”

If Poirier had won and earned the title, he thinks the decision would’ve been easier. The only box unchecked on his list would’ve been marked. Now, the box remains empty, even though he was so close.

“That’s the problem,” Poirier said. “Tonight, if I were to have won that belt, I’d be content with everything I’ve done in this sport. It’s just I didn’t get the ultimate goal. The reason I started fighting was to be the champion, undisputed. I didn’t get it. I don’t know. I don’t know.”

Fighting is a large part of Poirier’s identity. Filling the time, energy, and effort will be impossible, he predicted.

“Nothing fills that void of competition I’ve been doing for so long – the pureness of it, the 1-on-1 combat, preparing myself,” Poirier said. “But fighting is such a selfish sport. I’ve taken away from the people I love by focusing so much on my myself and trying to master this craft. I don’t know. It’s just a lot of stuff to weigh on.”

Weigh, Poirier will.

UFC CEO Dana White said after Saturday’s event the promotion will always have a roster spot for him. It’s up to him if he wants it.

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

Story originally appeared on MMA Junkie