Javier Mendez, AKA head coach, has stated who he believes Islam Makhachev should face next in the UFC following his recent submission victory over Thiago Moises at UFC Vegas 31.
Javier Mendes has trained both Islam Makhachev and Khabib Nurmagomedov during their stays in the United States, and he has already picked out an ideal opponent for Makhachev to use as a springboard to the much coveted UFC lightweight title.
Speaking on his YouTube channel, Mendez discussed what the ideal next step for Islam Makhachev will be now that the Dagestani fighter is the #5-ranked man in the 155-pound division. The name Mendez had in mind was that of #3-ranked Beneil Dariush. Mendez stated the following:
“Didn’t Dana say him and Dariush would be good? That’s a great fight. Put that one on. Let’s go. He’s a major stud. That’s a challenge. Put him on.”
What stopping an Islam Makhachev vs. Beneil Dariush fight and Mendez’s alternative
The fight between Islam Makhachev and Beneil Dariush would appear to make perfect sense. Both men have only recently broken into the top five and are looking to establish their footholds in the upper eschelons of the division. They have similar skillsets, and would both provide perfect tests for the other.
However, the only issue that may stop a fight between the two from materializing is that both men are managed by Ali Abdelaziz. With that in mind, Javier Mendes stated:
“The only bad thing about that one (Makhachev vs. Dariush) is that Ali manages both… Those are two of his guys. He wants to save these guys. He would prefer it be Chandler or even Tony Ferguson.”
Michael Chandler would be a solid choice for Makhachev. However, Chandler is currently pursuing a fight with Justin Gaethje, with the two men going back and forth on social media.
But there has not been a fight booked yet, and Mendez also backs a bout between Islam Makhachev and Chandler.
“Michael Chandler would be my second choice. My first choice would be with Dana’s choice.”
Whoever Islam Makhachev gets matched up with, it appears inevitable that he will eventually inherit his countryman, training partner and close friend Khabib Nurmagomedov’s legacy as lightweight champion.