UFC 294: Makhachev v Volkanovski 2
Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

Islam Makhachev has big plans and goals for his career.

Fighters don’t get much better than the reigning UFC lightweight champion and he’s widely considered the pound-for-pound best fighter on the planet for good reason. Makhachev, 32, is on the cusp of tying history if he can successfully secure a record-tying third title defense with a win over Dustin Poirier at UFC 302 next month.

The path to his upcoming matchup has been unique for the near-flawless 25-1 champion. Poirier became a “most readily available” option for Makhachev after all other top contenders fought at UFC 300 this past month. Arman Tsarukyan was approached immediately after his split-decision nod over Charles Oliveira, which opened the door for Poirier. His American Top Team (ATT) teammate declined the relatively quick turnaround and it was next man up.

UFC 300’s biggest winner, former featherweight champion Max Holloway, also makes for a logical challenger for Makhachev after knocking out the perennial 155-pound elite Justin Gaethje for the BMF crown. However, after his first two defenses came over the previous 145-pound king Alexander Volkanovski, Makhachev believes it’s better to stick with primarily lightweight fighters.

“Honestly, Max has a job in his division,” Makhachev said on Good Guy / Bad Guy. “I don’t want to give a chance to Max because people are still talking about me not defending my belt against the lightweight guys. I need some real contenders from my division.

“I want to clean my division and fight for the welterweight [title].”

Luckily for Makhachev and any worries of having to fight Holloway, the “Blessed” one has options aplenty and has his sights set on his old 145-pound title regardless. In the case Holloway was to fight for the undisputed lightweight crown, he’d be attempting to become a dual-division champion as Makhachev eyes for himself.

Volkanovski’s bids against Makhachev were both chances at holding two titles simultaneously. Makhachev intends to do the same sooner rather than later and had the option as reportedly offered his dream matchup with the welterweight champion Leon Edwards for UFC 300. This never came together and Makhachev has Poirier and Tsarukyan waiting for him. The latter of which the champion hopes to rematch in Madison Square Garden later this year before moving up in weight.

“Man, who has next?” Makhachev said. “Now, we have Poirier. After if I beat Poirier and after Arman, I don’t know. I don’t have some job in my division. I need that second belt. I think I deserve it. This is my dream to be double champion.”

A Makhachev vs. Tsarukyan fight in 2024 would be a rematch of their April 2019 clash that saw Makhachev best his adversary via an unanimous decision. Tsarukyan, 27, has impressively come into his own since that fight, a short-notice opportunity for his promotional debut.

Ultimately, Makhachev had a rematch awaiting in one of his next two fights as he’d already defeated Tsarukyan’s UFC 300 opponent, Oliveira, to win the title in October 2022.

“I don’t like the sh*t about the rematches because I already beat Volkanovski two times,” Makhachev said. “I need some new names.

“In a rematch, you don’t have the same motivation. For some new names, you have. It will be good on the list when I beat Poirier.”

Before any of these big plans or fights can come to fruition, Poirier stands in Makhachev’s way with intentions of playing spoiler. The title fight will be “The Diamond’s” third chance at the undisputed lightweight title. An interim win against the aforementioned Holloway led Poirier to a September 2019 clash with Makhachev’s longtime teammate and mentor Khabib Nurmagomedov. Poirier lost the bout via a third-round rear-naked choke and challenged for the title again two years later when he lost in the same fashion against Oliveira.

Makhachev has been somewhat dismissive of Poirier in the build-up to their fight. He’s seen the thought from the community and wants to let it known he’s taking everything the veteran has to offer very seriously.

Well, almost everything.

“He honestly — some people think I’m underestimating him, but this guy is so tough,” Makhachev said. “He’s a dangerous legend. He has experience and he’s the most dangerous guy in the striking. This guy has a very good guillotine, that’s why I’m training so hard (laughs).

“Understand I respect him but okay, I don’t respect his guillotine. Because I never see him finish someone in guillotine. Maybe one day, but it’s not gonna be me.”


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Between the Links.

Derrick Lewis’ UFC St. Louis media day.

Best of Menifield.

PFL Epilogue.

Alex is Rio.

Fancy chin control.


Go to Twitter, use the #MorningReport hashtag, or find one of my tweets with it, and drop me a jam you’re currently really into. I’ll pick the best one alongside my daily choice and give you a shoutout! You can also share in the comments below — those are just harder to sift through sometimes!



And Jan…

The Holloways.


Got ‘eem.



Roman Dolidze (12-3) vs. Michel Pereira (31-11, 2 NC); UFC Louisville, June 8

Claire Lopez (8-6) vs. Kayla Hracho (6-4); Combate Global, June 22

Hyder Amil (9-0) vs. JeongYeong Lee (11-1); UFC Vegas 94, July 20


Islam’s thought is fair. At the same time, Holloway convincingly beat a top contender.

Happy Friday, everyone. Have a great weekend. Thanks for reading!


If you find something you’d like to see in the Morning Report, hit up @DrakeRiggs_ on Twitter and let him know about it. Also, follow MMAFighting on Instagram and like us on Facebook.

Author: Staff

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