- Islam Makhachev’s coach Javier Mendez is convinced Charles Oliveira should get the next title shot
- Mendez explained why Justin Gaethje is easier for Islam than Dustin Poirier
Islam Makhachev’s coach Javier Mendez shared his honest take now that the reigning lightweight champion is likely to have a new challenger sooner rather than later. Three names are on the top of the list but Mendez thinks Justin Gaethje is the weakest link.
Charles should be Next
Speaking to Submission Radio, Mendez acknowledged that Charles Oliveira’s first-round TKO win over Beneil Dariush at UFC 289 certainly makes him the favorite to become the next title challenger.
“I feel that in my opinion, Charles has earned the right to be number one in line for it. What the UFC feels is different, but from what I see, I don’t see how [he doesn’t deserve it],” Mendez said. “I mean you tell me you guys, what do you think? Do you think Charles did enough to be the next lightweight contender? I think so but it’s what the fans think, what the UFC thinks, they’ll do their research and they’ll figure out who it is. Do I think he’s done enough? Yeah, I think he has.”
Gaethje is the Easiest
Mendez already knew what to expect from Oliveira. However, he is still gauging the other two candidates – Justin Gaethje and Dustin Poirier, the two fighters who will face each other at UFC 291. But for Mendez, the easiest to deal with for Makhachev “stylistically” would probably be Gaethje.
“They’re all such tough competitors, but maybe Gaethje,” the coach picked. “Maybe Gaethje becomes easier for him than all the others but I’m thinking Gaethje might be stylistically. He’s a great kicker and he can take a good punch. But I could be wrong on that for sure. Dustin is an ironman type guy. He holds until the last minute, we’ve seen that before. So, I’m thinking Gaethje but I could be wrong.”
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It’s And Still
Assuming Oliveira gets the nod, Mendez assessed that even though the former lightweight champion’s performance against Dariush was impressive, he still thinks Makhachev is the better fighter. However, Mendez admitted that “do Bronx” is likely come in with a different approach but it will boil down to which fighter is more prepared.
“I look at it like we all evolve all the time and I look at it as Islam Makhachev is better than he was when he beat Charles so two different people gonna come into the fight with two different sets of mentality and let’s see who comes in the best prepared you know,” Mendez assessed. “Of course, I’m putting my money on Islam to do exactly what he’s gonna do.”
Oliveira has been laser-focused on reclaiming his lightweight belt from Makhachev since losing in their UFC title fight. UFC president Dana White already hinted that he is rooting for a Makhachev vs. Oliveira rematch but nothing is concrete yet at this point.