Reigning UFC lightweight champion Islam Makhachev has officially informed the world’s strongest league that he wants to make another title defense before the holy month of Ramadan, which next year runs from March 10 to April 9.
“I have already informed the UFC that I am ready to fight before Ramadan,” the Russian fighter told Match TV. “I would like to have three fights in 2024, one of them in America. I have a visa, I have never been refused. I will train, keep myself in shape all the time and wait for a call from the management”
The most likely candidates to fight Makhachev are Brazilian Charles Oliveira and American Justin Gaethje, but neither of them the Russian does not consider a clear contender for his title.
“I don’t see 100 percent opponents who deserve to fight for the title. I’ve beaten Charles Oliveira before – I think and there were no questions after the first fight – and the UFC plans to give him a rematch again. We have Justin Gaethje. He’s won two fights spectacularly, there’s no arguing that, but to me, that strikes me as a downed flyweight. How many chances he’s had, how many fights for the belt, and he only has this obscure BMF belt. I think that’s his max.”
Separately, the UFC champion spoke out about a potential fight against Conor McGregor, who plans to return to the octagon next year.
“If he comes back, wins three or four fights, and earns a title shot, then sure. But I don’t believe he’s going to come back on a winning streak and be able to beat the real contenders and be the number one contender. If UFC management says so, then I’ll take it, but I won’t ask for that fight myself”
Recall that on October 21 at UFC 294 in Abu Dhabi, Islam Makhachev made his second successful defense of the championship belt, knocking out Australian Alexander Volkanovski, who holds the UFC featherweight title, in the first round.