Islam Makhachev: ‘I’m not just champion, I’m the best fighter in the world’ after beating Alexander Volkanovski


Islam Makhachev believes he’s left no doubt who is MMA’s pound-for-pound No. 1 fighter.

The UFC lightweight champion successfully defended his title against featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski in Saturday’s UFC 284 main event, earning a unanimous decision in a back-and-forth battle. With the win, Makhachev handed Volkanovski his first UFC loss, snapped the Australian star’s 22-fight winning streak and extended his own UFC-best win streak to 12.

He also emerged as the winner of a matchup that was billed by the promotion as the top two pound-for-pound fighters in the world colliding. Makhachev stated that he beat Volkanovski to be the best fighter in the world at the post-fight press conference.

“It doesn’t matter how I won today, now I’m not just champion, I’m the best fighter in the world,” Makhachev said. “I am very happy. Now people are going to call me not just champ, but ‘best fighter in the world.’ This is my dream, and it doesn’t matter how I won, I’m very happy.”

The gauntlet was laid down by Makhachev after he claimed the UFC lightweight title with a dominant submission win over Charles Oliveira this past October at UFC 280. Rather than take on a challenger in the deep 155-pound division, he immediately called for a bout with Volkanovski and welcomed the chance to compete in Volkanovski’s home country of Australia.

While there are still plenty of challenges awaiting him in his division, he saw proving himself against Volkanovski as the most compelling next step in his reign.

” It was hard to fight Volkanovski due to many things,” Makhachev stated. “I come from another country, more than 13,000 kilometers from my country, I come with my team, and the time is changed, and we come to the arena early morning, many things. But I don’t prepare myself for easy fights.

” We fight for more than the belt. It’s about who will be the greatest fighter in the entire world. It was hard .”


The scorecards were unanimous in Makhachev’s favor, though the majority of the bout was closely contested, and two of the judges had it 48-47, giving two rounds to the challenger. Makhachev could not initiate any significant offense in his grappling unlike many other fights. This meant that he was forced to out-strike dangerous Volkanovski.

Volkanovski said during his post-fight press conference appearance that he’d heard Makhachev expressed doubt at the outcome as he returned to his corner following the final bell, but Makhachev shot down that rumor.

” He said that he didn’t. “I am certain that I knew in my head, after the fight ended, minimum three rounds I had won.” I did not say that I lost .”


Unsurprisingly, given how competitive the fight was, not everyone agreed with the decision including former UFC star Nate Diaz, who tweeted, “Islam got his ass whooped.”

Makhachev chuckled as he responded to Diaz’s assessment.

” “Honestly, I don’t want to speak about him,” Makhachev stated. I don’t understand what he is saying. Maybe he smoked something and watched the fight.”

When the official UFC rankings are updated later this week, it’s almost certain that Makhachev will be recognized by the promotion as the No. 1 fighter on its pound-for-pound list. How long his name remains in that spot is anyone’s guess, especially with former UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones returning next month to fight Ciryl Gane for a vacant heavyweight title at UFC 285.

Before his recent hiatus, Jones was widely recognized as the undisputed pound-for-pound king, a status that Makhachev doesn’t plan to relinquish to him anytime soon.

Makhachev stated that

“Jon Jones was a great fighter. “He is the best, but last time he won a split decision, he always has a hard fight. I don’t know, I don’t think after this fight he’s going to be the best, because why am I the best right now? Because I beat the best fighter in the world. Because I beat the greatest fighter in the world. Come in.”