Islam Makhachev would “love” to be matched up with the former interim champ, Justin Gaethje.
Earlier this month Makhachev picked up one of his biggest wins to date.
The 29-year-old dominated Drew Dober before securing a third-round submission win at UFC 259.
Since that win, Makhachev has been focused on a match-up with the former lightweight king, Rafael Dos Anjos.
However, the Russian believes ‘RDA’ has cooled on the idea of fighting him.
The pair were previously scheduled to meet on two occasions, but the bout is yet to take place.
“I don’t know why his opinion changed so quickly,” Makhachev told reporters at an Eagle Fighting Championship event. “He won a fight and started acting differently. He was quiet when we had a fight scheduled. He got taken off the card and I asked for a replacement but the UFC said they’d give me a five-round main event then I quietly got on a plane to the U.S. without my team because I wanted that fight then I got sick and he had a fight and after that he started talking differently.”
Ultimately Makhachev thinks Dos Anjos is most likely the man he’ll next face inside the Octagon.
“I don’t know what’s going on with the UFC matchmaking but I think that’s what will end up happening,” Makhachev said. “Most of the top-10 fighters are busy but I’m 90 percent sure they’ll give me a top-10 guy…
“We know that Felder doesn’t want to fight often. He has other things going on with the UFC and isn’t eager to fight anymore. As far as Hooker, I saw that he recently came home. He was quarantined for a long time so I don’t think he’ll want to come back soon. He’ll probably want to rest after getting knocked out, so I think they’ll give me dos Anjos.”
Another possible option is Justin Gaethje who hasn’t fought since being submitted by Makhachev’s teammate and friend Khabib Nurmagomedov at UFC 254 in October.
“Yes, it’s possible. Justin and I know each other but it’s not like we’re friends,” Makhachev said. “It’s possible. He’s free right now. Why not? I’d love to fight him.” (Transcribed by MMA Fighting)
Who do you want to see Islam Makhachev fight next?