Islam Makhachev vows to fight “short guy” Alexander Volkanovski in Australia after attaining UFC lightweight gold

Islam Makhachev

Islam Makhachev is laser-focused as he closes in on his first lightweight title fight with Charles Oliveira at UFC 280 in Abu Dhabi.

Although the Brazilian is the opponent scheduled to stand in his way, that could very well change with Alexander Volkanovski serving as the backup fighter in case either man suffers any hiccups with the weight cut.

With Oliveira missing weight and being stripped of his lightweight championship in his most recent outing with Justin Gaethje at UFC 274, it would be smart for the Dagestan fighter to have a close eye on the featherweight king Volkanovski. In addition, Dana White openly revealed that Volkanovski would gain an opportunity to fight the winner of UFC 280’s main event.

When Islam Makhachev took to the mic during his pre-fight media interview, he briefly mentioned meeting Volkanovski earlier in the week and seemed unfazed by the whole situation. Mirroring the mentality of his mentor Khabib Nurmagomedov in not taking much thought about who stands across from him inside the Octagon.

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Islam Makhachev talks run-in with Alexander Volkanovski

“Honestly, I met Volkanovski downstairs – he’s a short guy,” Islam Makhachev said during UFC 280 media day. “I ask him why you need to cut weight right now? But if I beat Volkanovski people are going to say [I beat a smaller opponent] but people are always going to talk.

“[Right now] I want to fight with Charles, and I hope he’s going to make weight. But it doesn’t matter. This camp, I trained so hard, it doesn’t matter who is going to be there. Saturday night, I need someone.”

Makhachev is hopeful that Oliveira can be professional and hit the scales at 155lbs and set an example this time round.

Despite the lightweight title currently being vacant, the Russian still views Oliveira as the champion but is not convinced he’s the best lightweight in the world.

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“He’s a champion but he have to show all fighters a good example,” Makhachev said. “He has to be professional. I hope he’s going to make weight [this] time.

“Right now, he’s the champion. Right now, he’s the best lightweight, but I don’t think he’s the best. Right now, I know this is my moment. I believe even right now I am the best lightweight in the world.”

Oliveira has accumulated 11-straight wins with ten stoppages in the current run he finds himself on. The last time ‘do Bronx’ tasted defeat inside the cage was to Paul Felder in 2017. Since then, the 33-year-old has become a force to reckon with.

Holding the most submission victories in the UFC, as the former lightweight champion does, would intimidate a number of fighters, but not Makhachev, who is more than happy to display he’s the better fighter when the fight hits the mat.

“Nobody can stop my wrestling,” Makhachev said. “I’m going to do my job. I’m going to do the same things always. Take them down, hold them, make them tired and finish them.

“This is my goal to finish him on the ground because I have to show all people my grappling level”

If victorious on October 22 in Abu Dhabi, Makhachev opens his arms to a first title defense against Volkanovski and doubles down, claiming he would fight the featherweight champion in his own backyard.

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With the UFC returning to Perth, Australia, in February, this could certainly come to fruition.

Why not? Yes [I’ll fight Volkanovski in Australia],” Makhachev said. “I went to Australia one time. I can go again.

“This is going to be a good fight. Always when the champion from other divisions fights with other champions, it’s a big fight and very interesting fight for all fans.” (H/T MMA Fighting)

Do you think Charles Olveira has enough to defeat Islam Makhachev at UFC 280?