Islam Makhachev knows winning a bunch of rematches won’t necessarily help him create the legacy he wants to leave behind, which is why he already has designs on chasing a second UFC title.
Originally scheduled to face Charles Oliveira in the UFC 294 main event — a fighter he soundly defeated almost exactly one year ago — Makhachev instead clashes with featherweight king Alexander Volkanovski just eight months after their original fight in February. While he’s never one to turn down opponents, Makhachev admits that beating the same opponents over and over again isn’t an ideal scenario for him.
That’s why he hopes the future will bring different opposition at lightweight — or perhaps even the opportunity to compete for a title in a new weight class.
“I think like now it’s a rematch [with Alexander Volkanovski, [before] a second fight with Oliveira — it’s not so good for the legacy,” Makhachev said during UFC 294 media day. “I need some new names, a second belt.”
Makhachev previously teased his interest in possibly moving up to welterweight at some point in the future, which would give him that chance to win a second UFC title.
In fact, Makhachev says after he gets through Volkanovski on Saturday, he’ll gladly stay ready in case the UFC comes calling for a chance to jump into the UFC 296 main event between reigning welterweight king Leon Edwards and Colby Covington.
“If they call me, I will be ready for Colby or Leon,” Makhachev said. “[I’m ready for] any fights. But my dream, my goal, I want a second belt.”
While racking up title defenses at lightweight obviously matters to him, Makhachev knows he would sit in rarefied air by capturing a second championship in a different division.
To date, only eight fighters in UFC history have held titles across two divisions, and only B.J. Penn has accomplished that goal at lightweight and welterweight. Makhachev would love to etch his name in the history books by doing the same thing, which would separate him from many other all-time greats.
“Because we have many UFC champions, but not much double champs,” Makhachev said. “I want to be a double champion.”
When it comes to the welterweight title fight currently booked for December, Makhachev doesn’t have much of an opinion on who he believes will win, but he certainly has a preference on the fighter he would prefer to face with a belt on the line.
“I don’t who will win … but I hope Colby wins,” Makhachev said.
Of course, Covington has taken numerous shots at Makhachev in recent weeks while daring the UFC lightweight champion to come up to 170 pounds to challenge him. First things first, Covington has to get through Edwards to have a title that Makhachev would want to pursue.
In a similar way, Makhachev understands he can’t start thinking about welterweight until he gets through Volkanovski at UFC 294. And even if this fight is another rematch, Makhachev still found plenty of motivation to get him ready.
“Honestly, after the first fight, many people were talking about the fight and many people want to watch this rematch,” Makhachev said. “I’m really happy because right now, they can give me anyone, but I’m really happy because they gave me Volkanovski because last time I fought in his arena, his area [in Australia], but now it’s Abu Dhabi and everything now is on my side.”