Lightweight champion, Islam Makhachev, has been left feeling a bit adrift since watching Beneil Dariush lose to Charles Oliveira at UFC 289 (see highlights). Makhachev won his title off Oliveira back in Oct. 2022. Now, it looks like UFC may book the rematch one year later.
Same time, same location. And that doesn’t seem to excite Makhachev much.
Reporters caught up to Makhachev in Dagestan during the first Eagle FC event of 2023. He discussed several topics, including his own sparse year of fighting. We haven’t seen him compete since a controversial decision win over bloated Featherweight roost-ruler, Alexander Volkanovski (watch highlights).
“I was in the USA, met with the UFC, I asked for a fight in the summer,” Makhachev said (translation via YukaHero). “But they told me that I wouldn’t have time to fight in Abu Dhabi if I had a fight in the summer. They have a plan to organize a fight for me in Abu Dhabi.”
As for who he’ll fight, Makhachev isn’t sure. He was clearly hoping Dariush would beat Oliveira.
“The fight was good,” Makhachev said. “Oliveira won. But, I was rooting for Dariush. I thought it would be a new challenge for me. Dariush had eight wins in a row. I don’t know. I can’t say yet if my next fight will be a rematch against Charles. We have to wait. Now, Justin [Gaethje] and Dustin [Poirier] will fight, and then the UFC will decide.
“Of course I want a new name on my resume,” he continued. “It’ll be better for me. If Oliveira will not fight me now, everyone will say that I’m avoiding him. I never choose my opponents. I will fight anyone the UFC gives me. I don’t think he can do anything. I’m not afraid of his grappling like the rest of the fighters. I can take him down at any time.”
“Volkanovski is exactly the same,” he continued. “If they offer a rematch with Volkanovski, I will gladly accept it. I have said many times that I would be much better prepared if there were no issues surrounding the event, acclimatization and so on.”
As for who his next pick would be, if he was the man choosing?
“I don’t know. Maybe Poirier,” Makhachev said. “He has a big name in the UFC.”
But, right now the regret for the fight that got away is strong in Islam.
“Dariush lost, everything’s turned upside-down,” he said. “I can’t say anything for now. If he had beat Oliveira, it would have been a good fight. Dariush’s skills were highly appreciated. It would have been a good fight.”