Islam Makhachev has his eyes set on the UFC welterweight championship, ideally upcoming title challenger Colby Covington. Makhachev expressed his desire to become a two-division champion should he beat Charles Oliveira at UFC 294.
Makhachev is currently scheduled to defend his title in a rematch against former champion Oliveira on Oct. 23. If Makhachev has it his way, he will subsequently move up 15 pounds to challenge the winner of Leon Edwards vs. Covington, who headline UFC 296 on Dec. 16.
“I don’t know what the UFC has planned, but my dream fight is for the second belt,” Makhachev told ESPN. “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 [the winner]. I look at their skills and what they have as champions and I know my skills. It’s going to be a good fight. I’m not saying I’m going to beat them easy. It’s going to be a hard, tough fight against a big guy. But I believe I can finish those guys.”
Makhachev is coming off a successful yet competitive title defense against featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski. The way Makhachev sees it, he should be permitted to chase his own champ-champ ambitions after accommodating Volkanovski.
“I gave a chance to that guy, so they have to give me a chance, too,” Makhachev said. “I gave a chance to a guy from another division to come to my weight and to try to take this belt, and he lost. I want my chance, too.”
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Makhachev’s desire to face Covington is predicated purely on noise. Covington has a habit of poking and prodding other stars in the UFC. Makhachev welcomes that energy.
“I hope [Covington] wins because I don’t know what Leon says about [fighting me],” Makhachev said. “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.”
Makhachev moving up to capture a second simultaneous title would certainly be interesting, but it’s a sincere disservice to Justin Gaethje. Gaethje cemented himself as a worthwhile UFC lightweight title challenger after knocking out Dustin Poirier at UFC 291 to capture the ceremonial BMF championship. Ultimately, the outcome of Makhachev vs. Oliveira 2 will play a big role in establishing what comes next in the lightweight division.