- Islam Makhachev is only interested in a title fight with Justin Gaethje
- The lightweight champ insists his goal is to win and defend two titles
Islam Makhachev has reiterated his plan to take on a fresh title challenger for his next fight. Ultimately, the lightweight champ said his goal is to move up and become a two-division champion.
Gaethje is the most deserving
According to Makhachev, Arman Tsarukyan did a great job finishing a top-5 contender in Beneil Dariush but he’s still not interested in a rematch with “Ahalkalakets.” Islam is also aware of the rumblings of a rematch with Charles Oliveira but what he wants is a fresh opponent.
For Makhachev, Justin Gaethje has proven that he deserves to be the next title contender.
“It was a good knockout, to be honest,” Makhachev said in a media scrum at the IBA Boxing event in Dubai. “After that fight, I think he said loudly that he had won the top. Well, he is approaching the title chance, I would say.”
“He [Tsarukyan] already had the chance to knock me out but he didn’t succeed,” he added. “He didn’t win a single round. Let him train more. He will grow up. If he will pass one more fight confidently, then the UFC leadership will give him this fight with me.”
“To be honest, I’ve already said that I’m not that interested in rematches,” he concluded. “Because if you want to win someone in a good way, you have to add new names. There is Gaethje, who I would say deserved a fight. I think it would be more interesting to fight him.”
Islam Makhachev says that he is not interested in another rematch next (Tsarukyan or Oliveira) and that he wants to fight Justin Gaethje.
He mentions UFC 299 in Miami as an option 👀
via YT / Ushatayka pic.twitter.com/muMNBj8W7l
— Spinnin Backfist (@SpinninBackfist) December 9, 2023
To win and defend a second title is the goal
Makhachev plotted a potential showdown with Gaethje sometime in March, possibly at UFC 299 in Miami. After that, Islam said he would be looking forward to moving up to welterweight and becoming a two-division champion with successful title defenses in both weight classes.
“I think in March, maybe. Most likely [in Miami UFC 299 event],” Makhachev assessed.
“The second belt is the fight of a dream,” he added. “This is what motivates me at the moment. The ideal ending [for my career] is to win both belts. To defend both belts. I’ve already defended one. Now I have to defend the second one… Maybe if there is some new motivation but this is the highest step for me now.”
Makhachev plans to fight three times next year. If everything goes according to his plans, he might close the year 2024 as a two-division champion.