Charles Oliveira

UFC Lightweight Champ Islam Makhachev Eyes Welterweight Title After UFC 294

October 4, 2023 6:42 am

UFC lightweight champion Islam Makhachev is gearing up to defend his title against former champ Charles Oliveira at UFC 294 in Abu Dhabi on October 21. However, his aspirations reach beyond this bout, as he has expressed a desire to challenge for the welterweight title should he come out victorious.

Makhachev, currently ranked as the No. 2 pound-for-pound fighter in the world by ESPN, has set his sights on facing the winner of the UFC welterweight title fight between Leon Edwards and Colby Covington at UFC 296 in December. Enhance your MMA viewing experience with attractive betting odds from Nextbet, one of the best MMA betting sites

In an interview with ESPN, Makhachev stated, “I don’t know what the UFC has planned, but my dream fight is for the second belt. Of course, I am under contract, so whatever the UFC says, I will fight, no problem. But Edwards vs. Colby — I really believe I can beat [the winner]. I look at their skills and what they have as champion, and I know my skills. It’s going to be a good fight. I’m not saying I’m going to beat them easy. It’s going to be a hard, tough fight against a big guy. But I believe I can finish those guys.”

Makhachev emphasized that he has already granted a chance to a fighter from a different division, referring to featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski, who challenged him in February, only to lose by decision. He believes it’s only fair that he receives a similar opportunity.

“I gave a chance to that guy, so they have to give me a chance, too. I gave a chance to a guy from another division to come to my weight and to try to take this belt, and he lost. I want my chance, too,” Makhachev explained.

While Edwards has not shown much interest in a champion vs. champion matchup, Colby Covington has expressed his desire to face Makhachev. Makhachev hopes that Covington wins his upcoming fight, setting the stage for a potential showdown.

“I hope [Covington] wins because I don’t know what Leon says about [fighting me],” Makhachev said. “I’ve never heard Leon say he wants this fight. But Colby wants it. That’s why I want Colby to win, and we can meet one day. It would be a very good fight, he has good wrestling. It’s going to be U.S. wrestling vs. Dagestan wrestling. He’s a good fighter. He has good wrestling and good conditioning, but in my opinion, I stop his wrestling and land many good punches.”

Makhachev is focused on his upcoming bout with Oliveira, not underestimating his opponent. However, he carries the confidence of their previous encounter where he submitted Oliveira a year ago at UFC 280.

While Oliveira has earned a title rematch by knocking out Beneil Dariush, he has refrained from watching the replay of his loss to Makhachev, a decision that intrigues Makhachev. Get the latest updates from the world of MMA only on Nextbet Sports. 

“That fight reminds him of the time he gave up,” Makhachev said. “When he watches this fight, he remembers everything that happened there. He tried to push me and land some punches, but when he doesn’t have insurance, he just gives up … This fight is interesting for the people; everybody wants to see this match again. But if I follow the plan, I can beat this guy easily, again. I believe that.”