Islam Makhachev Plans to Challenge Welterweight Champ Leon Edwards Following UFC 302 Title Fight with Dustin Poirier

Makhachev is ready to make a move to 170 after claiming to have beaten everyone at lightweight

Islam Makhachev Move To 170
Courtesy of @UFCNews on X

Islam Makhachev already has one foot out the lightweight division’s door. 

Capturing the 155-pound title in October 2022 with a second-round submission victory over Charles Oliveira, the ‘Dagestani Destroyer’ is set to defend the belt for the first time against a lightweight contender after back-to-back bouts with former featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski. 

Makhachev will headline UFC 302 on Saturday, June 1 against division fan favorite Dustin Poirer in Newark, New Jersey. Previewing their unlikely title tilt during a recent interview with Scott Fontana of The New York Post, Makhachev suggested that once this fight is in the books, he plans to seek two-division glory by challenging reigning UFC welterweight king Leon Edwards. 

“My dream fight, I want to fight in the next division [up], 170,” Makhachev said. “I want to fight Leon Edwards. I already gave fighters at 145 a chance. Now I need my chance at a second belt. Honestly, I don’t have any exciting fights, because Dustin has just [a] one fight winning streak. And, we have Arman [Tsarukyan] – but I’ve already beat this guy.

“I don’t have some job in my division, in my opinion, honestly. And I think I have a chance, they [the UFC] have to give me the chance for a second belt. Because I’ve already beat all the old guys.” 

Islam Makhachev Not Surprised By Arman Tsarukyan Declining a Title Fight at UFC 302

With a big win over ex-champion Charles Oliveira at UFC 300, Arman Tsarukyan established himself as the lightweight division’s top-ranked contender — setting the stage for a long-awaited rematch with Islam Makhachev. ‘Ahalkalakets’ has been chomping at the bit to run it back ever since coming up short in his promotional debut against the ‘Dagestani Destroyer’ back in April 2019. 

The two were expected to tussle at UFC 302, but Tsarukyan declined the title opportunity citing that the seven-week notice was not enough time to adequately prepare for such a challenge. 

“I’m not surprised because [Tsarukyan] talked bout a rematch all his life, but this may be the third time or the fourth time the UFC gave him a chance to fight with me and he said no,” Makhachev said. “The UFC told me they would give me an opponent after UFC 300, but in my opinion, if Arman beat Oliveira, he would never take this fight [with me]. That’s why I’m not surprised.”

Instead, Dustin Poirier gets the spot in what will likely be the 35-year-old’s last opportunity at UFC gold. 

Watch the full interview below:

Published on April 23, 2024 at 3:33 pm
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