Islam Makhachev Coach Javier Mendez Supports Proposed Lightweight Title Fight with Dustin Poirier: ‘He’s My Pick’

Mendez wants to see Makhachev back inside the Octagon sooner rather than later

Islam Makhachev
Courtesy of @UFCNews on X

Javier Mendez — coach to current UFC lightweight world champion Islam Makhachev — wants to see his fighter return to the Octagon, regardless of who it’s against. 

Following his first-round knockout of Alexander Volkanovski at UFC 294, the ‘Dagestani Destroyer’ has been angling to make a quick turnaround. Five months later, the 155-pound king still doesn’t have a fight booked while his most viable contenders — Justin Gaethje and Charles Oliveira — are gearing up for some high-stakes scraps at UFC 300 on April 13. 

Makhachev was offered a spot in the landmark event’s featured bout opposite current welterweight champ Leon Edwards but was forced to turn it down as UFC 300 is scheduled to go down a mere four days after the conclusion of Ramadan, the holiest month on the Islamic calendar. 

Instead, Makhachev is hoping to defend his title in June against one of the few top-ranked lightweights currently available, Dustin Poirier — but for longtime American Kickboxing Academy coach Javier Mendez, the opponent doesn’t necessarily matter. He just wants to see the No. 1 P4P-ranked fighter in the world stay active. 

“The reality is, I’m just happy to see him fight anybody,” Mendez said in an interview with Drake Riggs of MMA Mania. “It doesn’t matter. I want him to fight anybody. Just fight. He’s ready to fight.

“Obviously, he was offered to fight Leon [Edwards] before, but that was during Ramadan time. Look, when you’re the champion, you fight when you’re ready to fight. You don’t fight when the company says fight. If you’re a company guy, great, but you better be ready when the company says come. Otherwise, you’re not gonna be the company guy because you’re not gonna hold that title. If you don’t hold that title, you don’t hold that what we all want.

“At the end of the day, it’s about legacy, money, status. Once you lose that belt, you’re no longer pound-for-pound the best in the world, and you’re no longer gonna dictate certain things that when you’re the champion, you can dictate.”

Mendez Believes Islam Makhachev vs. Dustin Poirier Makes the Most Sense, Based on the Circumstances

Following Dustin Poirier’s come-from-behind victory over Benoit Saint-Denis at UFC 299, Makhachev suggested that a fight with ‘The Diamond’ this summer made the most sense, given the status of other contenders in the division. Mendez agreed with the Dagestani’s assessment, believing a fight with Poirier is the way to go.

“Islam’s a true professional, and he wanted to fight at a time that he’s gonna be ready to defend his title at the best ability that he can do,” Mendez said. “During Ramadan time, shortly before or after, there’s no way. Not gonna happen.

“If it’s Dustin, fantastic. If it’s Justin, fantastic. But from my perspective, because of who’s available now, who would be available sooner: Dustin. I believe that’s the reason why this is going on. We don’t know what’s going to happen with Justin and the fight with Charles [and Tsarukyan]. We don’t know. What if the winner gets injured, and the fight’s delayed? Now Islam’s wait how much more time?

“I’m all for Dustin. Dustin’s injury-free, he’s a great fighter, a great human being, he’s my pick also because of the circumstances fitting perfect for Dustin and Islam. Perfect.”

Watch the full interview below:

Published on March 26, 2024 at 11:18 am
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