Islam Makhachev is gearing up for action in early 2024, which comes as a relief for many fighters eyeing the UFC lightweight championship. Charles Oliveira is currently holding the No. 1 contender spot, while Justin Gaethje is eagerly waiting for his turn. Beyond them, a pack of determined contenders in the top ten is vying for their shot.
Islam Makhachev Sets Sights on Active Pursuit of Championship in 2024
Initially, doubts lingered about Makhachev’s availability before Ramadan, a period from March 10th to April 9th, 2024, when devout Muslims observe fasting until sunset and often refrain from training. However, Makhachev recently revealed on a Russian news program his ambitious plans for an active year ahead.
“Well, I’m planning to fight before Ramadan,” Makhachev said. “I already informed the UFC that I’m ready to fight before Ramadan, I would like to have time to do three fights in 2024. I will train as much as possible, constantly keep in shape, and wait for a call from the management.”
Islam wants to fight 3 times in 2024. He wants to fight before Ramadan, but UFC is ruining his plans and activities. pic.twitter.com/Q7RDtYa3rt
— 𝙈𝙀𝙉𝘼𝘾𝙀 🇵🇸 (@P4P_islam_) November 22, 2023
Makhachev, the current lightweight champion, made headlines at UFC 294 in October held in Abu Dhabi, UAE. He secured a remarkable first-round victory via a high-kick and strikes knockout over Alexander Volkanovski, the undisputed featherweight champion. This impressive win came in their rematch, which was a short-notice title fight.
After settling his beef with Volkanovski, Makhachev, currently the UFC’s top pound-for-pound fighter, is eyeing his next challenges. He’s considering facing contenders like Justin Gaethje, Charles Oliveira, and Mateusz Gamrot in the lightweight division. While he’s focused on these contenders, Makhachev has also expressed interest in moving up to welterweight for a shot at a second title, possibly by late 2024.
The welterweight title picture is still unclear. Leon Edwards and Colby Covington are set to battle it out at UFC 296, and Belal Muhammad is eager for a chance at the title. By the time Makhachev plans to switch divisions, any of these fighters could be the champion. However, regardless of who holds the belt, it’s bound to be a massive fight.