Makhachev has been on a roll as of late with 10 straight victories. He most recently dismantled short-notice replacement Bobby Green in his second-career UFC main event at UFC Vegas 49.
Before the win over Green, Makhachev made quick work of top contenders such as Thiago Moisés and Dan Hooker.
Makhachev will more than likely have to face Beneil Dariush next, as UFC President Dana White recently hinted. However, he’s already got his eyes set not just on the lightweight title but also a chance to add his name to UFC lore.
During a recent interview with ESPN’s Brett Okamoto, Makhachev laid out what he plans to do once he gets the lightweight belt later this year.
“I’m gonna take this belt, defend like three, five times, and I’m gonna come to welterweight division,” Makhachev proclaimed.
UFC 272 featured a welterweight grudge match between top contenders Colby Covington and Jorge Masvidal. Makhachev sat cageside to watch Covington earn a unanimous decision win over his former American Top Teammate and friend Masvidal.
Despite Covington’s impressive performance, Makhachev garnered more motivation to eventually challenge the top welterweights in the UFC after watching the UFC 272 main event.
“I saw this fight, I witnessed front row, when Masvidal fight versus Colby. Honestly, I really believe I can beat these guys one night, both these guys.
“Because Colby, he have just wrestling. I can beat him easy….his striking is very (slow) and other guy, Masvidal, I think he’s so old now, he just makes some money, he have maybe couple more fights and he gonna retire.”
Makhachev Doesn’t Expect Relationship With Usman To Be An Issue
Following his latest win over Green at UFC Vegas 49, Makhachev hinted at a move up to welterweight, a division in which Kamaru Usman currently reigns as champion.
While Makhachev and Usman have the same manager and seem to have a solid friendship, that hasn’t deterred Makhachev from pursuing multiple UFC belts. This is because Makhachev doesn’t expect Usman to still be competing if he gets the fight against Canelo Álvarez he’s been pushing for.
Makhachev revealed a recent conversation with Usman and the welterweight champion’s future as the titleholder.
“I told Usman. I told him, ‘Man, now you gonna beat Leon Edwards,” Makhachev said. “‘And after, you wanna fight vs. Canelo, make $100 million, and that’s it. Your motivation is finish.’ He say, ‘No, no, no, I’m gonna still compete.’
“But I don’t believe when somebody have $100 million, it’s not possible (to) wake up early morning (and stay hungry). It’s not possible.”
Usman recently underwent hand surgery and is expected to return later this year. He’s more than likely set to face Leon Edwards for his next title defense.
Makhachev was reportedly the UFC’s top target to replace Rafael Fiziev against Rafael dos Anjos at UFC 272. However, according to Dana White, he turned down the fight and White says Makhachev will now have to face Dariush before earning a title shot.
Makhachev has been referred to by many UFC fans as the heir apparent to Khabib Nurmagomedov, who is a mentor and coach of his. If Makhachev can earn the lightweight title, he could potentially accomplish something Nurmagomedov never did in earning multiple world titles after moving up a division.
How do you think Islam Makhachev would do at welterweight?