UFC Lightweight Champion Islam Makhachev once again reigned supreme this past weekend courtesy of an emphatic knockout victory in Abu Dhabi.
While Makhachev won the crown last October at the Etihad Arena via submission, he put his striking skills on full display at the same venue on Saturday by brutally sending Alexander Volkanovski to the canvas with a head kick in the first round.
The pair’s UFC 294 headliner came about after Charles Oliveira withdrew on late notice owing to a cut suffered in training. With that, the Dagestani champ ran it back with his featherweight counterpart eight months on from their first showdown in Perth.
With the Australian’s two-division ambitions firmly halted for the time being, Makhachev will likely turn his attention back to the pool of contenders within the 155-pound division.
Judging by his and UFC CEO Dana White’s post-UFC 294 remarks, a rearranged second dance with Oliveira appears to be the leading options. But one other man sat in the lightweight top five thinks the promotion should change that stance.
Gaethje Calls For UFC To Book ‘Fresh’ Matchup
During an interview with Megan Olivi for ESPN MMA at UFC 294, where he was in attendance to corner Kamaru Usman for his fight against Khamzat Chimaev, former title challenger Justin Gaethje reacted to the main event result.
“The Highlight,” who memorably won the ceremonial ‘BMF’ title this past July by sleeping Dustin Poirier with a head kick, insisted that fans would rather see a fresh matchup for Makhachev than another ‘domination’ against Oliveira.
“I think it should absolutely (be me). I mean, I’m number two, I knocked out Poirier,” Gaethje said. “I mean, Charles Oliveira is ahead of me, but he obviously already lost to Makhachev. I have not fought Makhachev. it’s a fresh matchup, a new matchup, and I think that’s what the fans are looking for.
“I think he (Makhachev) would have dominated Oliveira just the same. Oliveira beat me, (but) MMA math doesn’t work,” Gaethje continued. “I’ve said he’s not Khabib, but I think he might be, so I just wanna go out there and figure it out.”
It remains to be seen if Gaethje can convince the UFC about the merits of placing him opposite the Dagestani champion next time out. But “The Highlight” certainly looks set to plead his case until a decision is made official.
Heck of a performance by Islam. I have a mountain to climb.
— Justin Gaethje 🇺🇸 (@Justin_Gaethje) October 21, 2023
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