Off the back of his stunning victory at UFC 294 last month, undisputed lightweight champion, Islam Makhachev has opened as a massive betting favorite to successfully defend his championship in a potential fight with former interim champion, Justin Gaethje in the future.
Makhachev, the undisputed lightweight champion under the banner of the organization, headlined UFC 294 last month in a reworked main event clash with featherweight champion, Alexander Volkanovski, stopping the Australian with a stunning first round high-kick knockout in the pair’s title rematch.
The Russian was initially scheduled to headline the Abu Dhabi, UAE event against former titleholder, Charles Oliveira in a title rematch, however, a nasty laceration suffered by the Brazilian just 10 days’ out from the bout forced the Sao Paulo finisher from his championship rematch with Islam Makhachev.
As for Gaethje, the former interim lightweight champion, and recently minted symbolic BMF championship winner, headlined UFC 291 back in July in Salt Lake City, turned in a spectacular, earth-shattering second round high-kick knockout win of his own over fellow former interim champion, Dustin Poirier in the pair’s re-run.
Islam Makhachev opens as betting favorite to beat Justin Gaethje
And despite links to a rescheduled title fight with Oliveira in his next Octagon walk, Makhachev has opened as a staggering -600 betting favorite to defeat the above-mentioned, Gaethje, who sits as a +425 betting underdog – having staked his claim for a fight for gold with the former.
A slew of betting sites and markets are already offering odds and accepting bouts on a potential future title fight between Makhachev, and Gaethje – and hopeful punters can check the proven casinos with high payouts when determining which bookie to slap their bets and punts on.
Yet to land the pound-for-pound number one slot despite his dominant rematch knockout win over Volkanovski back in October, American Kickboxing Academy staple, Makhachev has questioned what more he should need to do in order to land atop the promotional pile and knock heavyweight champion, Jon Jones from his perch.
As for Gaethje, the long-time Trevor Wittmann striking ace has yet to crack undisputed lightweight gold under the banner of the UFC, having previously failed in an effort to unify the titles against Makhachev’s mentor, coach, and close friend, Khabib Nurmagomedov back in 2020 on ‘Fight Island’ in Abu Dhabi, UAE.
Heralded for his fan-friendly approach to fighting, Gaethje has turned in two impressive victories this year en route to the top of the lightweight pile once more – halting the roughshod run of Rafael Fiziev through the rans in a hard-fought majority decision win back in March – before his stoppage of Poirier.
Backed by many to provide a stern challenge to Makhachev amid the Russian’s dominant run, Gaethje has been picked to potentially upset the defending champion – possibly even lodging a knockout win, by head coach, Tim Welch.
“Gaethje’s a different dude – Khabib said he knew that Justin got there [late], and he’s through that time travel multiple ties. He knew that was just gonna ruin him. This Gaethje now, versus Islam in Vegas or something. I wouldn’t be that surprised if Gaethje knocked him out.”
Who wins in a future title fight: Islam Makhachev or Justin Gaethje?