Following his quick first round kimura submission win over Dan Hooker (watch the finish here), Islam Makhachev didn’t mince words when he declared what he wanted next.
“Brother, now it’s time,” he told Daniel Cormier in the cage. “Before it was like, top 11, top 15. But this guy, number 6. Now we have to talk. How many fights, nine? Nine fight win streak. I’m ready for title fight. Please, anyone! Doesn’t matter! Because this division now, little bit asleep. I’m going to work hard, and work this division.”
During the post fight press conference, Makhachev made it clear that he felt like a win over Hooker should be enough for a title shot, despite any revisionist history to come after he made easy work of the New Zealander.
“I feel good because I show my level – I don’t know how many minutes,” he said. “Now everybody going to talk like Hooker is an easy opponent, he don’t have grappling or wrestling. Hooker is tough. He beat a lot of wrestling, grappling guy took. He beat Gilbert Burns, many guys. I think I deserve now. When Chandler beat Hooker they give him title fight. Why not? I am ready, too. I’m here not to beat 15 people and fight. I have nine fights.”
UFC president Dana White was clearly impressed with Islam’s performance, but pumped the breaks on it being a title shot worthy win.
“He’s ready for someone in the top five, top three, whatever becomes available,” White said at the UFC 267 post-fight press conference. “And then obviously if he gets through that he’s in line for a title shot. I think it’ll be easier to get him fights now, once you get into that top five, people have to fight you if they want to become the best.”
Title shots at lightweight can be hard to come by because there’s so many established top dogs who have been scrapping in the contender’s circle for years. Dustin Poirier is next up for champion Charles Oliveira in December, and then there’s what many consider a #1 contender match between Justin Gaethje and Michael Chandler at next week’s UFC 268. And don’t you dare suggest Makhachev should jump Gaethje, or Gaethje may come after you like he did with Daniel Cormier over Twitter.
I can’t fight you, but Islam can my guy. You just go and do what you do next week. You may be safe I’m not sure champ. @Justin_Gaethje— Daniel Cormier (@dc_mma) October 30, 2021
I literally asked why he should get title shot over you? Because he has to convince he deserves to jump you. Hell I thought you should have been in the fight with Charles. Have said it publicly. Calm down highlight , you’re my favorite fighter.— Daniel Cormier (@dc_mma) October 30, 2021
But given both Gaethje and Chandler have fought for the title over the past year and lost, Makhachev could be in a good position to jump the line. Islam said he beat Hooker so fast he didn’t even need a shower after the fight, and we hear #3 ranked Beneil Dariush is looking for his next opponent. Book it up, Dana!