Dustin Poirier ‘leaning towards being done’ with MMA but ‘scared’ to retire prematurely

Dustin Poirier is conflicted as he tries to come to a definitive decision about his fighting future.

Poirier (30-8 MMA, 22-7 UFC) made it clear entering and coming out of his title-fight loss to Islam Makhachev at UFC 302 this month that his days of active competition could be done as he made a final bid at the undisputed championship.

The result didn’t go his way, and Poirier has spent the past nine days since the fight trying to determine what’s next. But he hasn’t been able to find an answer.

“Even this far removed from the fight, I still don’t know,” Poirier told “The MMA Hour” with Ariel Helwani on Monday. “I’m kind of looking for clarity. Searching myself and taking it one day at a time. But I don’t know. I don’t know what’s next.

“I can’t say I’ll never fight again, but I just don’t know the reason. What am I going to fight for? To get into a battle? I love that. But I’ve taken some lumps over the years. It has to be for something. And maybe that something, I’ll recognize that or realize that in the coming weeks. But I’m just taking it one day at a time.”

Poirier came out of his fifth-round submission defeat with a bevy of injuries including a broken nose, damaged ribs and a knee issue. He said the nose will require surgery, but all told he think he could be cleared to begin a training camp in roughly eight weeks.

Given he amount of physical duress he was facing, Poirier performed valiantly against Makhachev over the course of the fight as a sizeable underdog. And that fact is part of the reason Poirier can’t completely ignore the idea another UFC fight. The 35-year-old understands whatever is left of his prime could vanish in an instant, and he said he fears that time is coming.

“The only thing that makes me not want to walk away is I still feel I can compete with these guys, and I feel I’m still getting better,” Poirier said. “It’s not like I’m slowing down too much or age is getting to me. My reaction time is still good and I know I can beat those guys. And say I do leave, in a year from now it might not be the same if I ever try to come back. I’m scared to miss what I have left to give. But I also don’t want to give too much of myself. I want to give more because I know I have a short window to give the best of myself, but also I’ve given so much of myself to the sport for so long. It’s just like, where do I draw the line? That’s a battle I have to figure out for myself, because I don’t have the answers to a lot of these things.”

Poirier revealed that if he had beaten Makhachev at UFC 302, he would’ve laid the belt and his gloves down in the center of the octagon and retired. He admitted his wife Jolie has encouraged him post-fight to call it a career, and when Poirier is most honest with himself, he said his feelings trend toward obliging.

“I’m leaning towards being done,” Poirier said. “Especially getting the title fight. How many more times would I need to fight to get myself back into position to fight for the world title? I don’t know. But like I said, I’m not going to do it again. I’m not going to fight five more times trying to earn another title shot. I’m in a weird spot and I don’t know how to explain it or what decision to make. I’m taking it day-by-day and see what comes with my mind changing and seeing how I feel.”

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

Story originally appeared on MMA Junkie