UFC 269 is on the horizon, as lightweight king Charles Oliveria looks to make the first defence of his strap against former interim champion Dustin Poirier on December 11. The lightweight title clash will close out the year as the UFC’s last PPV card.
While both competitors are preparing for their matchup, Justin Gaethje and Islam Makhachev are making their claim in the background for the next crack at gold.
Islam Makhachev sits at (21-1) in his professional career after a first-round submission victory over Dan Hooker in Abu Dhabi. Islam now has a nine-fight win streak behind him, his recent three outings all coming via stoppage, but Justin Gaethje doesn’t believe that should grant him the next shot.
“Makhachev fought No. 14, went to No. 5, and fought a late replacement in Dan Hooker,” Justin Gaethje said on the UFC Unfiltered podcast (h/t MMA Junkie). “It wasn’t Dan Hooker on a full camp. It does not count as much, but still, it’s two top 15 guys, none in the top five, only one in the top 10. That’s not how this sh*t works.
“Do your f*cking job, fight these guys, and Beneil Dariush is right here. And I like the dude, he’s my friend so you know I’m just going to jump over this man and expect to get a title shot when the No. 3 guy is Beneil Dariush. Handle that. That has to be handled.”
With his confidence sky-high, and the backing of life-long friend and training partner Khabib Nurmagomedov, Islam Makhavchev seems willing to fight Justin Gaethje to solidify himself as the next challenger for the lightweight title.
Makhachev responded on Twitter: “So we’ll go to war.”
Justin Gaethje finally broke his long stretch outside of the cage with a fight of the year contender with Michael Chandler, which resulted in him leaving the Octagon victorious and putting the Khabib Nurmagomedov fight in the past.
Beneil Dariush is the man who has been left behind the curtain when people talk about lightweight title challengers. He currently rides a seven-fight win streak, with his most recent victory coming over Tony Ferguson at UFC 262.
Who do you think deserves the next shot at the lightweight title?