Islam Makhachev has set his sights on a different goal in the UFC – becoming a two-division champion. After his upcoming title defense against Charles Oliveira at UFC 294, Makhachev plans to move up a weight class and challenge the winner of Leon Edwards vs. Colby Covington at UFC 296.
In an interview with ESPN, Makhachev stated, “I believe I can beat [the winner]. I look at their skills and what they have as champions 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 feels that after giving featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski a chance to challenge for his lightweight title, he deserves the opportunity to pursue his champ-champ ambitions.
In regards to facing Colby Covington, Makhachev welcomes the noise and the potential matchup. He stated, “I hope [Covington] wins… 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.”
While Makhachev’s desire to pursue the welterweight championship is intriguing, it’s important not to overlook Justin Gaethje’s potential as a lightweight title challenger. Gaethje’s knockout victory against Dustin Poirier at UFC 291 secured his place as a worthy contender in the division. The outcome of Makhachev vs. Oliveira 2 will have a significant impact on the future of the lightweight division.