Islam Makhachev is currently scheduled to headline UFC 294, where he will return to his adopted homeland of Abu Dhabi to defend his lightweight crown against former champion Charles Oliveira. Their bout will be a rematch of their UFC 280 encounter, which also took place in Abu Dhabi.
Despite having a tough challenge ahead, Islam Makhachev has already outlined his future plans, should he beat ‘do Bronx’ for a second time. In an interview with ESPN’s Brett Okamoto, the reigning lightweight kingpin spoke of his desire to move up to 170 pounds and capture the welterweight strap.
The welterweight title will be contested in the main event of UFC 296, where Leon Edwards will defend it against former interim champion Colby Covington. Islam Makhachev believes that he has the necessary skills to beat either man:
“I don’t know what the UFC has planned, but my dream fight is for the second belt. Of course, I am under contract, so whatever the UFC says, I will fight, no problem. But Edwards vs. Colby… I really believe I can beat.”
But over the course of his interview with Brett Okamoto, he expressed a specific interest in facing Colby Covington, who has himself spoken about fighting the Dagestani phenom. To that, Makhachev said the following:
“I’ve never heard Leon say he wants this fight. But Colby wants it. That’s why I want Colby to win and we can meet one day. It would be a very good fight, he has good wrestling. It’s going to be U.S. wrestling vs. Dagestan wrestling. He’s a good fighter. He has good wrestling and good conditioning, but in my opinion, I stop his wrestling and land many good punches.”
Has Islam Makhachev ever fought at welterweight?
Despite being one of the largest lightweights on the roster, with some even accusing him of being a weight bully, Islam Makhachev has actually never fought at 170 pounds. He is a career lightweight, and the closest he’s ever come to competing at welterweight has been in catchweight bouts.
Throughout his career, Makhachev has only ever taken part in two catchweight bouts. The first was in his final pre-UFC fight when he submitted Ivica Trušček, where the future UFC lightweight champion weighed in at 165 pounds. The second time was in his win over Bobby Green, where he came in at 160 pounds.