Islam Makhachev has his eyes set on the UFC lightweight title after earning another submission win over Dan Hooker at UFC 267.
Makhachev has emerged as one of the best lightweights in the world, with nine straight wins, and has gone without a defeat since 2015. His relentless grappling has overwhelmed his opponents, and he passed the toughest test of his career with relative ease against Hooker.
Makhachev wants to continue the legacy of his teammate and mentor, Khabib Nurmagomedov, and earn the lightweight belt. He made his desires clear during his UFC 267 post-fight press conference.
“Next fight, it has to be for the title or contender fight because I have a nine-fight win streak,” Makhachev said. “Who in my division [is] like this? Just champion? That’s why and you know, I feel my division is a little bit asleep right now. I have to wake up my division because I have to change some things. All guys from the top 5, already fight for the title: Chandler, Gaethje. That’s why we have to change something.”
Makhachev had the chance to speak with UFC president Dana White following his dominant win, and White was non-committal when asked whether or not Makhachev would get the next title shot.
“He said, ‘I have to go back and we’ll see,” Makhachev said.
Gaethje vs. Chandler UFC 268 Bout Looms Large(via Zuffa LLC)
Top lightweight contenders and former title challengers Justin Gaethje and Michael Chandler will fight on the UFC 268 main card this weekend. Despite the highly-anticipated matchup, Makhachev doesn’t think either of them warrant another shot at the belt.
“But these guys already fight for the title,” Makhachev said. “Chandler, last fight he fought for the title. Gaethje, many times he fought for the title. That’s why I think it’s my time. They have to give me a chance. Dana [White] has to give me a chance.”
Chandler lost to UFC lightweight champion Charles Oliveira for the vacant lightweight belt at UFC 262 earlier this year, and before that knocked out Hooker at UFC 257. Makhachev thinks that he deserves the same path to the title.Credit: Jeff Bottari, Zuffa LLC
“When Chandler beat Hooker, they give him the title fight. But why not?” Makhachev said. “I’m ready, too. I’m here not to beat 15 people and fight. I have nine fights now. That’s why I think I deserve it.”
Many believe that it’s almost a foregone conclusion that Makhachev is a UFC lightweight champion in the making, as he continues his dominant streak over top contenders such as Hooker. Makhachev was also supposed to fight former champion Rafael dos Anjos at UFC 267 before dos Anjos pulled out due to injury.
Regardless, it’s only a matter of time until Makhachev finally gets the lightweight title shot he deserves. When that happens, it could be a while until another contender rises to truly challenge him in the Octagon.
Do you think Dana White should award Islam Makhachev with the next lightweight title shot?
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