Streaking UFC lightweight contender Islam Makhachev, currently ranked No. 4 at 155 pounds, is expected to earn a crack at the division title with a victory over Bobby Green in the upcoming UFC Vegas 49 main event this Sat. night (Feb. 26) in “Sin City.”
But earning it and actually getting it are two very different things.
Makhachev may have to take a back seat to former lightweight titleholder Conor McGregor, who is expected to make his Octagon return later this year. And it doesn’t help Makhachev’s cause that reigning champion Charles Oliveira is setting his sights on a “Notorious” payday with a victory over Justin Gaethje at UFC 274 in May.
“That’s part of the game,” coach Javier Mendez told Submission Radio. “He carries the big numbers, so whatever the UFC decides. I’m expecting anything can happen with the guy that has the power to do that. Do I like it? Absolutely not. But do I have a choice? Absolutely not. To me the rankings are bullshit. They always have been bullshit. They’re still bullshit. So, I don’t really care about the rankings. Whoever gets that opportunity, it’s like I always say, this is not a true sport, this is entertainment first, sport second.”
It would be ridiculous to give McGregor a title shot considering he’s 1-3 in the lightweight division and coming off back-to-back losses to Dustin Poirier. But it’s also hard to turn down an opportunity to milk the aging cash cow since “Notorious” may be losing some of his star power — which is understandable when you consider his career trajectory.
“In the entertainment value, the UFC wants the most money,” Mendez continued. “Who’s going to create the most money for them? That’s where they’re going to go. And guess what? That’s what they’re going to do. So, we’ll see, we’ll see what the UFC wants. I’m prepared for whatever they do, and I’m not going to be upset one way or another. Do I think it’s fair? Absolutely not. If Islam doesn’t get the title fight should he beat Bobby, it’s not fair. But nothing is fair. Look what Khabib had to do to get to where he was at. He had to go through a lot of crap too.”
Makhachev will have to go through Green and if he can’t, none of this matters.