Islam Makhachev put on yet another grappling clinic Saturday night at UFC 267. If there’s one takeaway from his performance, it’s this – the Lightweight division is officially on notice.
With a flawless first-round win, Makhachev has notched three wins this year, all via submission. He called for a big fight next, and rightfully so. In his post-fight interview with Daniel Cormier, he made his case: “Now it’s time. Before it was like, top 11, top 15, but this guy (is) number six. Now I have to talk. Nine-fight win streak, I’m ready for a title fight.”
Makhachev is sure to be watching UFC 268 closely as No. 2 Justin Gaethje and No. 4 Michael Chandler face off in Madison Square Garden. It’s likely that Makhachev will be matched up against the winner of that fight for a title eliminator bout, as Charles Oliviera is set to defend his belt for the first time against Dustin Poirier at UFC 269 on Dec. 11.
In an interview before his fight this past Saturday, Makhachev explained why he believes Poirier will defeat Oliviera: “I think Dustin Poirier has more weapons than Oliveira. That’s why he’s gonna make him tired because when I saw a lot of Oliveira’s fights, he always gives up but now I think maybe he change something, but Poirier has very big experience in five-round fights.”
The lightweight division has a lot to be determined in the coming months, but one thing is certain: Makhachev will be waiting for whoever comes out on top.