McGregor, Tsarukyan or Volkanovski? Choosing the perfect opponent for Makhachev
Jul 11, 2023 11:00 UTC Audio Version: Your browser does not support the audio element.
Islam already requires the location and name of the applicant.
Islam Makhachev after February’s win over Alex Volkanovski has been inactive for five months and will remain without a fight until at least October. The Russian fighter previously said that he wanted to fight this summer, but the UFC turned him down. The promotion wants to see Makhachev in Abu Dhabi and protects Islam in every possible way.
But the Russian has a problem – there is absolutely no understanding of who can become his rival. Charles Oliveira does not want to fight in October, Volkanovski will undergo surgery, given this scenario, Makhachev demands that the UFC tell him the name of the opponent, and Dana White assures that the UFC 294 card will soon be announced, which will be held in Abu Dabi.
Most likely, Makhachev will be in the main event of the evening, so let’s try to imagine who will become the new contender for the lightweight title and fight Islam in the fall. We ranked the options from most likely to almost fantastic. Choose the perfect opponent for our boy.
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Rating: Who is the ideal opponent for Makhachev?
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After the Australian’s confident victory over Yair Rodriguez, the name of Islam Makhachev would surely emerge. And so it happened, Volkanovski wants to move back up to lightweight and fight the champion. The problem is that Alex has to have surgery on his arm and he won’t be able to train for a while, and he won’t have much time left until Abu Dhabi. Thus, Volkanovski will have a very small camp. Does an Australian need a fight in such conditions?
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Another fighter beaten by Makhachev, and one of the top contenders for the lightweight title. After defeating Beneil Dariush, Oliveira said that he was ready to go for the belt, but now it turns out that he doesn’t want to fight in Abu Dhabi. The Brazilian has expressed interest in a title fight in November or December, but the problem is that Charles is in a losing position: no one will part with the challenger’s wishes. Oliveira needs to take the fight in Abu Dhabi or another fighter will take the line. However, it is possible that the former champion is just soberly evaluating the chances of him in a rematch with Makhachev and is in no hurry to rush to the title.
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Poirier in recent years has always lived somewhere near the championship belt, but he stumbles at the last step. In terms of a big, new name on his resume, Dustin would be a great option for a title fight with Makhachev. Not long ago, Islam itself evaluated a possible fight with Poirier as an interesting option. The only problem here is that at the end of July, Dustin will have a fight with Justin Gati for the BMF belt. There will only be two and a half months left before Abu Dhabi, and after meeting Gaethje Porrier, it will probably take him a long time to recover and he may simply not have time to prepare. However, he is a good contender.
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The situation with Justin Gati is similar to the one Poirier was in. It’s also unlikely that Gaethje will make it out unscathed after the cut with Dustin, so you need to fix yourself. Yes, and in principle, for a long time, Gaethje did not even have two fights in a year, but here three can turn out at once if he still tries to fight Makhachev. Most likely, Justin does not make such long-term plans, and in the event of a victory over Poirier, he will calmly wait for his chance and will not rush into the Octagon in October. Let’s not forget, though, that Justin is a “no-seatbelt fighter.”
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Makhachev and his team have repeatedly talked about the desire to win the belt in the welterweight division. In principle, now is a good opportunity, Leon Edwards can be hard on Islam. In addition, the Briton has spoken on several occasions about his desire to perform in Abu Dhabi in October or in New York in November. Yes, Leon has an opponent in Colby Covington, and it’s too soon for Makhachev to move up in weight, but that option would be great for a Russian fighter.
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Former UFC champion Kamaru Usman doesn’t really want to move up to middleweight for the fight with Khamzat Chimaev, but no one is interested in him now in the welterweight division. Two Edwards losses shook Kamaru’s position: they won’t let him challenge for the title again right away, and the position of an elite goalkeeper that Usman doesn’t attract. Like one of the most unexpected scenarios: a light assault and a fight with Islam Makhachev in Abu Dhabi. It may sound far-fetched, but it would be loud, and for this card, the sign would fit the bill.
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Michael Chandler once criticized Islam Makhachev and wondered how the Russian got a title shot. However, Michael later admitted that he was wrong, although he pointed out that his struggle would help him cope with Islam. Now Chandler is hinting that he’s ready to fight Makhachev in October. “Our time is drawing near,” Michael wrote, apparently desperate to wait for the duel with Conor McGregor. It’s hard to imagine Chandler as a contender at a time when he’s coming off a win in his last four fights. This is a rowdy contender, but, perhaps, until his time comes. Unless the UFC decides to apologize to Chandler in this way for a possible failure to set up the fight against McGregor.
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Tsarukyan began his UFC career with a loss to Makhachev and has since often mentioned Islam, saying that he gave him the toughest fight. There are so many mentions of the champion’s name in Tsarukyan’s interview that Makhachev not long ago besieged his compatriot, recommending that the fights make a name for itself. According to Arman, he needs eight weeks of preparation to destroy Islam in a rematch. There are even 12 weeks for Abu Dhabi. What if the UFC, out of desperation, decides on such an adventurous title fight?
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It’s been two years since we saw McGregor fight in the Octagon. Conor claims the biggest comeback of all time and says he’ll fight another 100 fights. A year ago, McGregor already said that he knew how to beat Makhachev. Time passes, and the Irishman hasn’t even returned to the USADA pool to perform consistently. From a sporting standpoint, of course, Islam doesn’t need a fight with McGregor. However, a duel with Conor guarantees noise, it will definitely increase Makhachev’s recognition and, of course, will allow him to decently replenish his bank account. Yes, and the victory over McGregor could well be added to the resume.
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Finally moving on to welterweight. Colby Covington has been out of the Octagon for over a year, but Dana White calls him the next contender for the welterweight championship belt. However, Colby is already looking behind Edwards and talking about Makhachev. Covington said it was because of him that Khabib Nurmagomedov did not move up to welterweight, adding that he was ready to dismantle Islam at both welterweight and lightweight.