UFC lightweight champion Islam Makhachev has yet to make a single title defense at 155 pounds, but coach Javier Mendez is already planning for an eventual trip to welterweight where he expects his star pupil to dominate and capture a second strap.
I guess we should be used to this sort of longterm planning by now.
“I can 100 percent see that,” Mendez told Submission Radio. “And the reason why I see that is because Islam wishes that. And when he wishes that, he’s going to will it to happen. So he’s going to train, he’s going to clear out the division like he wants to do, and then he is going to go for the welterweight title, and whoever that person at that particular time is going to be, I feel he’s going to beat.”
Before Makhachev (23-1) can deal with any of the top lightweights, he’ll first have to rid himself of reigning featherweight champion Alex Volkanovski, who will fight Makhachev in the UFC 284 pay-per-view (PPV) main event this weekend in Perth, Western Australia.
Turns out Makhachev’s welterweight dreams were already in the works since late 2021.
“He was like, ‘Yeah, what do you think?’” Mendez continued. “I said yeah, and it’s just like with Khabib (Nurmagomedov). I never heard Khabib talk anything about other than lightweight. That’s it. Khabib never said welterweight, middleweight. But in my eyes, what I’ve seen in my eyes in the gym for all the years I’ve had Khabib, Khabib could’ve been the lightweight, the welterweight and the middleweight champion, in my eyes.”
We almost had the chance to find out ... but alas, it was not meant to be.