UFC 294: Makhachev v Volkanovski 2
Photo by Mike Roach/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

Charles Oliveira might start sweating after Islam Makhachev’s most recent comments.

UFC 294 was supposed to be headlined by the big rematch between the lightweight division’s last and current champions. When it comes to dominance, no one at 155 pounds has been as strong as Oliveira and Makhachev over the past few years. Unfortunately for Oliveira, his historic and thrilling streak through the division came to a halt at the hands of Makhachev in October of last year via a second-round arm-triangle choke.

Just two weeks out before Oliveira was to challenge Makhachev in their rematch, he suffered a bad cut over his eye that forced his withdrawal. The featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski entered in his place to save the day and ultimately fell short via a first-round head kick and punches knockout. Now, Oliveira is expected to be rebooked in the title shot he originally had, but top contenders Justin Gaethje and the recently emergent Arman Tsarukyan have thrown possible wrenches into the plan.

“To be honest, I’ve already told [UFC] I’m not interested in rematches,” Makhachev said in an interview in Russia over the weekend (h/t “king Makhachev” on X). “Because if you want to [be a champion] in a good way, you have to add new names. There is Gaethje, who I would say deserved a fight. I think it would be more interesting to fight him. I think in March, maybe.”

While the Oliveira victory was Makhachev’s last that wasn’t named Volkanovski, he also holds a win over the 27-year-old Tsarukyan. The champion welcomed Tsarukyan to the octagon on short notice in his UFC debut in April 2019. Despite a strong effort, particularly in the grappling department, Tsarukyan lost the bout by unanimous decision. He has since gone 8-1 (21-3 overall) and knocked out perennial top contender Beneil Dariush in 64 seconds at UFC Austin two weeks ago.

As for Gaethje, “The Highlight” was crowned the newest BMF champion in July when he scored redemption in his rematch with Dustin Poirier. The second-round head kick knockout got Gaethje back on a winning streak after earning a majority decision nod over Rafael Fiziev at UFC 286 in March. At this juncture, Gaethje has hinted at possibly just waiting for Makhachev vs. Oliveira 2 to play out should he not get the shot next.

Makhachev’s motivation is beginning to shift, however. These matchups and title defenses at lightweight are guaranteed to be interesting for the fans, but the champion has his mind on bigger goals — literally.

“The second belt,” Makhachev said of his ideal fight. “I did not choose an opponent. The second belt is the fight of a dream. This is what motivates me at the moment.

“Win both belts, defend both belts. I’ve already defended one. Now I have to defend the second one. Maybe if there is some new motivation [that will change] but this is the highest step for me now.”


TOP STORIES

Roundtable. Is Colby Covington about to be the undisputed king of the welterweights?

Security. Belal Muhammad set to serve as backup for Leon Edwards vs. Colby Covington at UFC 296

Planning. Song Yadong picks Sean O’Malley to win, hopes Chito Vera pulls off upset so ‘I can beat him up’ again

Persistence. Matt Brown explains why it’s so hard for Paul Felder — or any other fighter — to truly stay retired

Strikers. Khalil Rountree explains Alex Pereira callout, brushes off ‘s*** opinions’ of critics

Drama. Leon Edwards responds to rumors he knocked out Ian Machado Garry, answers Belal Muhammad’s challenge

Dumb. California State Athletic Commission approves bare-knuckle and slap fighting, BKFC plans spring 2024 card

Matchmaking. Bellator champ Johnny Eblen, Derek Brunson down to fight at upcoming PFL pay-per-view

$$$. UFC Vegas 83 bonuses: Khalil Rountree Jr. secures extra $50,000 after blistering finish of Anthony Smith


VIDEO STEW

UFC Vegas 83 Post Show.

UFC 296 Countdown.

PFL Europe 2023 Championship highlights.

ONE Friday Fights and Fight Night highlights.

The Apprentice is back.

In Russia with no love.

Champ Camp 5.

Inside the Matrix.


MORNING MUSIC


SOCIAL MEDIA BOUILLABAISSE

Ouch.

Fine wine.

Didn’t expect this one at all.

Just had to clarify…

Return of Panchan.

Target.

Numbers.

Let’s do it.

PNW views.

Props.

Khabib.

Future.


FIGHT ANNOUNCEMENTS

Ren Hiramoto (2-3) vs. Ren “Ya-Man” Sugiyama (0-0); RIZIN 45, Dec. 31

Nate Maness (15-3) vs. Azat Maksum (17-6); UFC Vegas 85, Feb. 3

Renato “Moicano” Carneiro (17-5-1) vs. Drew Dober (27-12); UFC Vegas 85, Feb. 3

Merab Dvalishvili (16-4) vs. Henry Cejudo (16-3); UFC 298, Feb. 17

Ode’ Osbourne (12-6) vs. Jafel Filho (15-3); UFC Fight Night, March 16


FINAL THOUGHTS

As much as I hope we get the Tsarukyan rematch at some point, I’ll never disagree with fresh matchups, so I’m all for Makhachev’s line of thinking.

Thanks for reading!


POLL POSITION

Last Week’s Results:

Friday: 65% of 471 total votes answered “Yes” when asked, “Will Leon Edwards vs. Colby Covington go the distance?

Thursday: 68% of 434 total votes answered “Yes” when asked, “Is choosing to be a fighter stupid?

Wednesday: 34% of 435 total votes answered “Dustin Poirier” when asked, “Who should Arman Tsarukyan fight next?

Tuesday: 83% of 355 total votes answered “Song Yadong” when asked, “Who wins this weekend?” Song defeated Chris Gutierrez via unanimous decision in UFC Vegas 83’s main event.

Monday: 59% of 332 total votes answered “Yes” when asked, “Will Deiveson Figueiredo ever fight for the UFC bantamweight title?

Today’s exit poll:


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.

Staff
Author: Staff

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