American Kickboxing Academy leader, Javier Mendez has already produced one UFC lightweight champion hailing from Russian in the form of current pacesetter, Khabib Nurmagomedov, and he now claims Khabib’s compatriot, Islam Makhachev is waiting in ‘The Eagle’s’ wings — capable of becoming the next lightweight titleholder.
Scheduled to make his long-anticipated Octagon return, the streaking Makhachev draws fellow surging contender, Drew Dober at UFC 259 in two week’s time, slated to make his first UFC walk since September of 2019 at UFC 242.
Makhachev was slated to headline a UFC Vegas 14 event in November against former lightweight champion, Rafael dos Anjos — with the matchup shelved for a second time after the former was stricken with a staph infection. Niteroi native, dos Anjos would go on to lodge a split decision win over short-notice replacement, Paul Felder at the event.
The 29-year-old has amassed a six-fight winning spree since his knockout loss to Adriano Martins at UFC 192 in October of 2015, and according to renowned head coach, Mendez, Makchaev has “all the tools” to score lightweight gold next.
“Well, I wouldn’t call him (Islam Makhachev) the next Khabib (Nurmagomedov), I’d just call him the next Islam — which to me is the next champ,” Mendez said during a recent interview with Mike Swick on the Real Quick with Mike Swick show. “I think he has all the tools to be the next lightweight champion. And it’s just a matter of getting by Drew Dober which is no easy task.“
“Drew’s ranked higher in the rankings (than Makhachev),” Mendez said. “You know, he’s not ranked lower which he should be ranked lower cause he’s really that good. But for us, beating a Drew Dober which we’re planning on doing, is not gonna do a great deal for us, only because Drew’s ranking is too high.“
Failing to secure another rebooking against dos Anjos, Mendez maintains an outing and victory over the former division gold holder would’ve benefited Makhachev more than a victory over Dober — predicting he would’ve earned the #7 rank at 155-pounds.
“If we would’ve got RDA (Rafael dos Anjos) as was originally scheduled, that would’ve been a good one, because then they (the ranking committee) would’ve put him in the top-ten at least, I would say top-seven for damn sure if he had of beat RDA — which I believe he would’ve.“
Entering his March 6th. outing against Dober riding a six-fight winning streak, Makhachev has taken decision wins over Chris Wade, Nik Lentz, fellow prospect, Arman Tsakuryan, and Davi Ramos, as well as an armbar win over Kajan Johnson and a knockout of Gleison Tibau.
Elevation Fight Team mainstay, Dober is enjoying a rich vein of form as well — scoring a trio of knockout victories over Marco Polo Reyes, the highly-touted, Nasrat Haqparast, as well as a UFC Fight Night Jacksonville stoppage of Alexander Hernandez last May.