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Islam Makhachev interested in move to welterweight after 155-pound takeover: ‘I love big fights’

UFC 280 Ceremonial Weigh-in Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC

Islam Makhachev is one week away from defending his UFC lightweight title for the first time, but the Russian champion is already opening the door for a potential move to welterweight.

Makhachev, who cashed in a 10-fight win streak to fight and defeat Charles Oliveira for the undisputed 155-pound title at UFC 280, is currently scheduled to defend his belt against UFC featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski next weekend at UFC 284. It’s one of the biggest superfights in UFC history as the pound-for-pound No. 1 and No. 2-ranked fighters go to battle inside of the Octagon.

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CHAMPIONSHIP TRILOGY! Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) returns to The O2 in London England, on Sat., March 18, 2023, with newly-minted Welterweight kingpin, Leon Edwards, running it back with former 170-pound champion, Kamaru Usman, for a third (and likely final) time. In UFC 286’s pay-per-view (PPV) co-main event, all-action Lightweight knockout artists, Justin Gaethje and Rafael Fiziev, will lock horns with the winner inching closer to a future Lightweight title shot.

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Makhachev is the betting favorite to take care of business against Volkanovski at UFC 284, but the Russian champion is staying focused leading into next weekend. After all, Volkanovski has posted an undefeated record of 12-0 since his UFC debut in 2016 and hasn’t lost a professional fight in nearly 10 years. He’s as good as it gets.

If Makhachev is able to take care of business next weekend he may end up turning his sights on the welterweight division in short time. The Russian champion will likely try to defend his lightweight title one or two more times, but the door to 170-pound has been opened.

“Let me tell you this: This topic is relevant,” Makhachev said in an interview with RSports Russia. “I like to compete. I like to fight strong fighters. I love big fights. Whoever is the welterweight champion, it’s going to be a huge fight. I’m very interested. But in 2023, there are worthy opponents in my division with whom I still have to meet.”

Makhachev, 31, has followed in the footsteps of long-time friend and former training partner, Khabib Nurmagomedov, but he plans on fighting a little longer than the former lightweight champ. This could lead to a move to welterweight even after a championship reign at 155 pounds.

“There’s no such thing,” Makhachev said. “As long as there is a fire in me, I will fight. As soon as I feel that it’s not going, it’s not the same, I’ll leave the sport. In the meantime, I feel that everything is working out for me. With each preparation I show myself better and better. I will go to the end.”

What say you, Maniacs? Do you want to see Makhachev compete in the UFC’s welterweight division?

Let us know in the comments below!

Remember that will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 284 fight card right here, starting with the early ESPN+ “Prelims” matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. ET, then the remaining undercard on ESPN/ESPN+ at 8 p.m. ET, before the PPV main card start time at 10 p.m. ET on ESPN+ PPV.

To check out the latest and greatest UFC 284: “Islam vs. Volkanovski” news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive event archive right here.

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