Islam Makhachev interested in welterweight, but ‘there are worthy opponents in my division’
UFC lightweight champion Islam Makhachev thinks there’s work to be done before he considers chasing a second belt.
Makhachev (23-1 MMA, 12-1 UFC) makes his first title defense against featherweight champ Alexander Volkanovski (25-1 MMA, 12-0 UFC) in the UFC 284 main event Feb. 11 at RAC Arena in Perth, Australia.
During a UFC 286 pre-fight press conference, welterweight champion Leon Edwards was asked about a past sparring session with Makhachev at American Kickboxing Academy, and “Rocky” said he thinks him vs. Makhachev would be a good fight in the future. But Makhachev says he has business to attend to before considering a move up to 170 pounds.
“Let me tell you this: This topic is relevant,” Makhachev said in an interview with RSports Russia. “I like to compete. I like to fight strong fighters. I love big fights. Whoever is the welterweight champion, it’s going to be a huge fight. I’m very interested. But in 2023, there are worthy opponents in my division with whom I still have to meet.”
Khabib Nurmagomedov, who hung up his gloves after three title defenses, said he sees protégée Makhachev defending his belt five or six times before retiring. But Makhachev is not ready to put a number on that just yet.
“There’s no such thing,” Makhachev said. “As long as there is a fire in me, I will fight. As soon as I feel that it’s not going, it’s not the same, I’ll leave the sport. In the meantime, I feel that everything is working out for me. With each preparation I show myself better and better. I will go to the end.”
For more on the card, visit MMA Junkie’s event hub for UFC 284.
MMA Junkie's 2022 Submission of the Year: Islam Makhachev def. Charles Oliveira