Reigning UFC lightweight world champion Islam Makhachev sent fans into a frenzy online after calling for a champion vs. champion showdown with welterweight king Leon Edwards.
Makhachev is expected to make his return to the Octagon in October when the promotion heads back to Abu Dhabi for UFC 294. No opponent has been officially announced, but if things go his way, the Dagestani destroyer will have an opportunity to add another piece of gold to his growing collection. Taking to Twitter, Makhachev suggested that a title fight between himself and Leon Edwards with ‘Rocky’ putting his 170-pound crown on the line would make for a good main event.
— Makhachev Islam (@MAKHACHEVMMA) July 18, 2023
While a fight featuring dueling UFC champions always adds a level of intrigue to any card, Islam Makhachev, and Leon Edwards are two of the promotion’s newer titleholders, meaning they both have a bevy of potential contenders eagerly awaiting their opportunity. Instead of holding up two separate divisions, Makhachev could opt to defend his title against a legitimate lightweight contender, something he is yet to do despite being the division’s top dog for almost a year.
Makkachev’s first and only title defense thus far came against featherweight king Alexander Volkanovski at UFC 284. It appeared that Charles Oliveira was primed for a rematch with Makhachev this fall in Abu Dhabi, but ‘Do Bronx’ made it quite clear during International Fight Week that he would not be ready to run it back by then.
Another possibility could pit Makhachev against the winner of this month’s long-awaited rematch between Dustin Poirier and Justin Gaethje, two men that the Dagestani has never squared off against.
Fans Call Out Islam Makhachev for Ducking His Own Division
As for Leon Edwards, the man they call ‘Rocky’ is coming off his second-straight win against former champion Kamaru Usman at UFC 286 in March. Since then, Edwards has been linked to a title tilt with outspoken welterweight standout Colby Covington. Despite a middling 2-2 record in his last four fights and a lengthy layoff, Dana White insisted that Covington would be the next man in line for a title shot.
The news was especially confusing considering Belal Muhammad’s impressive nine-fight win streak that has come against some of the division’s biggest names, including Stephen ‘Wonderboy’ Thomspon, Vicente Luque, Sean Brady, and Gilbert Burns. Other potential names out there for Leon Edwards, such as Khamzat Chimaev and Shavkat Rakhmonov, have arguably earned their opportunity to compete for the title. Certainly more so than Covington.
Edwards vs. Makhachev is an undeniably easier fight to promote considering neither man is overly marketable outside of their home country, but is it fair to every other fighter in their division vying for a shot at immortality? Some fans certainly don’t think so.
Too many challengers at 170 to be skipping the line.
— Andy Hickey MMA (@AndyHickeyMMA) July 18, 2023
You didn’t even win against a featherweight in your last fight, and you haven’t defended against a lightweight
— DungerMMA (@ewandunger) July 18, 2023
We need you to fight more guys in the division.
Call out guys in the division you’re in. Dominate the division you’re in before trying to rush into other weight classes.
You’re still coming off a debatable win over Alex where your weaknesses were exposed, remember that.
— Kennyatta (@ItsKennyatta) July 18, 2023
Bro wants To fight Everywhere but his Division
— Top Coon 🦝 (@JoshPerot) July 18, 2023
think youre getting greedy and you need to defend your title against 155 top contender
— Marc Fernandez (@MarcFernandez) July 18, 2023
You haven’t even ran through your Division yet…
— Vince Bennett (@Vince_Bennett22) July 18, 2023
You barely beat the 145lb champion @alexvolkanovski and you want to go up in weight?
— 💯𝕏 (@praisesats) July 18, 2023
I think you're a fucking absolute gimp, Islam, frankly. You've one "defense" against a FW that half the fans think you lost. A title shot off beating Bobby Green, ducked RDA because Daddy told you not to take risks, now you want to go up against LEON?
Fuck it. Head-shot. Dead.
— 🇮🇪Jamie 'Frodo' H (@Dorm-Room Dogfights)🇮🇪 (@JamieFrodoMMA) July 18, 2023