Islam Makhachev doesn’t want to rest on his laurels, and he and his mentor have a grand plan for pound-for-pound supremacy.
After capturing the undisputed UFC lightweight title in definitive fashion with a second-round submission of Charles Oliveira in the main event of UFC 280, his grand plan, cooked up within his team, was revealed to the world as they called for a quick turnaround, and a first title defence against pound-for-pound number one, featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski.
During Makhachev’s post-fight octagon interview with Daniel Cormier, “DC” turned to former champ and Hall of Fame Khabib Nurmagomedov, who has been a longtime friend, training partner and mentor to Makhachev over the years.
Khabib had made no secret of his confidence in Makhachev to take up the mantle he once held, and said that his protege will quickly establish himself as the top pound-for-pound fighter in the sport.
“All life we trained together. Twenty two years we done together,” he said.
“And the last couple of years I told you guys, Islam Makhachev is the best fighter – not in lightweight, he’s pound-for-pound number one fighter right now, today.”
Then Khabib looked to book Makhachev’s first title defence, as he stated the team’s aim to face Australia’s Volkanovski, in Australia, in a lightweight title defence.
“And you know what’s interesting. Charles Oliveira is number two, pound-for-pound, right? He finished Charles,” he said.
“Now, here’s our plan. Fly all the way to Australia and fight in the pound-for-pound king’s back yard, with Volkanovski. Let’s do it. We know we’re gonna finish this guy.”
It’s a bout that will not only pit champion against champion, it’s a fight where both men have something to gain, and something to lose. For Makhachev, there’s the chance to topple the pound-for-pound number one and assume that position himself, while for Volkanovski there’s the opportunity to defeat Makhachev and become a simultaneous two-division champion.
Volkanovski left his seat at octagonside to enter the cage and accept the challenge.
“Let’s do it!” he said.
“The lightweight (title) on the line. The pound-for-pound number one on the line. Let’s do it!”