While the first championship on the line at UFC 280 was successfully defended and the titleholder left with uncertainty surrounding the next step in his reign, it doesn’t appear that the same can be said for the other.
In the headliner, Makhachev dominated former divisional kingpin Charles Oliveira en route to a second-round submission victory. But despite celebrating his crowning, talk quickly turned to the next challenge of his career — one that appears will come from below.
Having had his calls for a shot at champ-champ status further heard by weighing in as the backup for the UFC 280 main event, featherweight champ Volkanovski seemingly secured his place next in line at lightweight after interacting with the Russian inside the Octagon following a callout.
With Makhachev’s coach and mentor, consensus lightweight GOAT Khabib Nurmagomedov, outlining plans for his man to put the gold on the line at UFC 284 in Perth, Australia, early next year, the February pay-per-view seems to have its headliner set and the 155-pound division its next championship fight put together.
But one in-form contender has told both men and the UFC to hold their horses…
Dariush Suggests Longer Build For Makhachev/Volk
During a recent interview with KRGV reporter Bella Michaels, the #4-ranked Beneil Dariush assessed the current title picture at lightweight and where he fits into it.
Although the widely held view has appeared to be that Makhachev and Volkanovski will collide in their champion vs. champion showdown, perhaps while Dariush meets Oliveira in a title eliminator, the Iranian-born American noted that nothing is set in stone.
In fact, Dariush suggested that it might make more sense for the UFC to halt both the Russian’s desire to secure pound-for-pound top spot and the Australian’s pursuit of champ-champ status.
That’s because, in his mind, there are more than enough contenders in the pair’s respective divisions to allow for a longer build for their monumental clash.
“It’s all hearsay. I don’t know who I’m fighting. The UFC’s talking about making Makhachev and Volkanovski happen, but that’s not for sure either,” Dariush said. “If you think about it, there’s people he (Volkanovski) can fight and there’s people Islam can fight, and then they can build that fight up in the future, the lightweight champion and the featherweight champion.
“We’ll see what happens. I’m not really sure. Like I said, I believe I’m the best in the world, and whoever they put in front of me, makes no difference,” Dariush concluded.
One of the other possible opponents for Makhachev is Dariush himself. The 33-year-old was also in action at Abu Dhabi’s Etihad Arena last month, outpointing Mateusz Gamrot to stake his claim for a shot at gold.
Having expressed frustration at seeing Volkanovski possibly surpass him in the queue for a championship opportunity, it’s perhaps unsurprising to see him campaigning for a delay to the featherweight king’s lightweight move, given that it would likely result in a meeting with the champion for himself instead.
Do you agree with Beneil Dariush? Should the UFC delay Islam Makhachev vs. Alexander Volkanovski in favor of a longer build to the champ vs. champ showdown?
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