Islam Makhachev expects UFC to sideline him until Abu Dhabi event: ‘They want to give me time to rest’

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Undisputed UFC lightweight champion, Islam Makhachev has claimed that he will likely remained sidelined from the Octagon until the promotion makes its return to Abu Dhabi, UAE later this year.

Makhachev, the current undisputed lightweight champion, headlined UFC 284 last month in Perth, Australia – defending his championship for the first time. 

Featuring opposite undisputed featherweight titleholder, Alexander Volkanovski, Makhachev managed to defend his lightweight crown – securing a unanimous decision triumph over the New South Wales favorite. 

Winning the vacant lightweight crown back in October of last year on ‘Fight Island’ – Makhachev stopped former undisputed champion, Charles Oliveira with a second round arm-triangle choke in the main event of UFC 280.

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Weighing up options for his next attempted title defense, Islam Makhachev has been linked with potential fights with both Beneil Dariush, and the aforenoted, Oliveira – who fight in May – as well as former two-weight champion, Conor McGregor.

Islam Makhachev is expected to remain sidelined until a ‘Fight Island’ return

Noting his intentions to fight at the welterweight limit in the future too in a bid to become a two-weight champion to boot, Makhachev revealed that he will likely be restricted to competition on ‘Fight Island’ by the UFC – with officials urging the American Kickboxing Academy staple to take time to rest and recover.

“They all say, Sean Shelby [UFC matchmaker], Hunter (Campbell{ [UFC Chief Business Officer[, Dana (White) [UFC president] – they all say, ‘We want to give you some time for the rest and we want to see you in Abu Dhabi,’” Islam Makhachev said during an interview on WEIGHING IN. “In my mind, I think they’re [the UFC] gonna give me [a fight in] June, maybe August, some fight. [But] they say, ‘You will come back in Abu Dhabi.’” 

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Off the back of UFC 285 earlier this month, Makhachev slumped to #3 in the official pound-for-pound ranking – dropping beneath the above-mentioned, Volkanovski, as well as newly minted heavyweight champion, Jon Jones – who tops the list following his submission win over Ciryl Gane.