Ben Askren opened up to Daniel Cormier on his pick for a potential clash between Islam Makhachev and Leon Edwards amidst a lack of contenders.
Reigning UFC lightweight champion Islam Makhachev secured the title with a dominant victory over Charles Oliveira at UFC 280 in Oct. 2022. He handily dispatched the former champion with an arm-triangle choke in round two to snap his 11-fight winning run. Following the win, Makhachev took on featherweight king Alexander Volkanovski in a ‘champ-champ’ showdown at UFC 284 earlier this year. He managed to edge out Volkanovski by unanimous decision and add a successful title defense.
Given the state of the top five ranked lightweight contenders, there has been speculation about who is next in line for a shot at the gold.
Daniel Cormier explains confusion surrounding Islam Makhachev’s next opponent
In a recent video uploaded on YouTube, Daniel Cormier expressed the frustrations in figuring out who Islam Makhachev should face next. Since Makhachev is expected to return for the upcoming UFC card in Abu Dhabi in October, he doesn’t have many options to choose from.
“Islam Makhachev, lord knows who he’s going to fight,” said Cormier. “Me and Ryan Clark talked about that and we can’t figure out who he’s going to fight. Can’t imagine Gaethje and Poirier are going to be healthy enough to fight again in October.
“Charles Oliveira said he’s not fighting again. Beneil Dariush just got beat. Michael Chandler, he lost to, supposed to fight Conor McGregor. So, if it’s not any of those guys, nobody knows who Islam has next. So there’s some disappointment there.”
Ben Askren reveals his pick for potential Makhachev-Edwards fight
Ben Askren favored welterweight champion Leon Edwards to retain the title in a potential ‘double-champ’ bout with Makhachev.
“Leon Edwards needs to keep the 170 division moving too,” said Askren.
“Leon Edwards, he got so much better. I’m really impressed by him. I think he’s a really tough fight for Makhachev, he really is. He can stop takedowns, he can battle, strike really clean. It’ll be a good fight. I’m in. I’d probably pick Leon honestly.
“After the last Usman fight you could just see like even from two Usman fights ago, he did such a better job of battling in the wrestling positions and dictating it to be more of a striking fight,” he continued. “If Usman couldn’t push him around, I have a hard time thinking Makhachev is going to.”
Edwards got linked to a showdown with former title challenger Colby Covington for his next outing. Makhachev called out Edwards for a contest for UFC 294 but it seems unlikely it would happen unless there’s a change of plans.