UFC lightweight champion Islam Makhachev may have his sights set on double-champ status after UFC 294, but his head coach admits that he’d love to see his charge settle some unfinished business first.
Chatting to Submission Radio, American Kickboxing Academy head coach Javier Mendez gave his take on Makhachev’s current situation and admitted that, after the Russian’s title defense against former champ Charles Oliveira in Abu Dhabi, he’d like to see him face featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski in a rematch.
“What I would want? I’d want Alex. My personal pick, I’d want Alex,” he said.
“And then after Alex, if we’re successful, I’d want the welterweight title.”
Mendez’s thinking is that, despite Makhachev’s decision victory over Volkanovski at UFC 284 back in February, things were far from settled, especially given the way the fight panned out on the night.
Mendez said he’d like the pair to run it back to give the sport – and both men – a more definitive result.
“There’s still unfinished business with Alex in my mind,” he suggested.
“There’s still unfinished business. There’s no clarity. And in our eyes, it was clear that there’s just too much uncertainty. And on top of that, I hate to say it, but that fight delivered, that fight delivered.
“It was supposed to be, you know, one of the great fights between two greats, and it turned out to be exactly that. Two champions got in there and it was a championship-quality caliber fight.
“But there’s still undecidedness on the other side. And I want to prove that we are the better fighters. So, I myself personally would want that fight for that reason. It’s a challenge. Because Alex is a huge challenge. And I like that.”
While Mendez said that he’d like to see Makhachev rematch Volkanovski next he also admitted that the lightweight champion’s preference would be to go for a second title, by stepping up to welterweight to challenge for the 170-pound title currently held by Leon Edwards.
“I think Islam just stated what he wanted. I just think that if the UFC would have given him the welterweight title opportunity, Islam would have taken it,” he said.
“Because I do know one thing, Islam has stated he wants to fight the lightweight division, but he wants to challenge himself and get the welterweight title. It’s not about Leon, it’s about the title. So, whoever holds that title one particular time, Islam’s gonna want that title shot. And that’s still the case as far as I know.
“If you asked me what Islam would want over anybody, I would tell you he probably wants the welterweight title over anybody. Me, I want the Alex fight. But I think Islam, he wants the welterweight title. Because that’s a big statement.
“For me, I just want to clear up the thoughts of who’s who. You know, that’s all. I want to clear it up. And, in my mind, it is clear. But I want everybody to know it’s clear.”