Islam Makhachev is currently one of the UFC's most dominant and entertaining champions. With finishes in 5 of his last six fights, and the only decision being the consensus greatest Lightweight title fight of all time against Alexander Volkanovski, fans are raving over his next fight.
Let's look at three of the most likely opponents for Islam Makhachev's next fight in the UFC.
The winner of this bout is the current front-runner for the #1 contender status. Charles Oliveira is the former Lightweight Champion and is 11-1 in his last 12 fights. His most recent fight was a 2nd round submission loss to Makhachev at UFC 280. The fight before was against Justin Gaethje and should have been a dominant title defense with how quickly he dispatched his opponent with a knockdown and choke. Unfortunately, 'Do Bronx' missed weight by 0.5 lbs before the bout, meaning he was stripped of the title before it began.
Beneil Dariush is currently at the height of his career on an 8-fight win streak, and the results of a win here would likely be a title shot. The Iranian's last two wins are dominant decisions over Tony Ferguson and Mateusz Gamrot, and he hasn't suffered a loss since 2018. He looks to start another finishing streak at UFC 288 against Charles Oliveira.
Outside of Benei Dariush, Dustin Poirier is the only person in the Lightweight division's top 5 rankings currently riding a win. His last fight was a Fight of The Year contender vs. Michael Chandler at UFC 281. He rallied from early trouble to submit 'Iron Mike' in the 3rd round with a rear-naked choke. His 2021 was also prominent, with a pair of knockout wins over Conor McGregor and a title shot against Charles Oliveira. At the age of 34 and with two failed title shots already against the aforementioned Oliveira and consensus Lightweight GOAT Khabib Nurmagomedov, this may be his final hope at gold.
The most explosive fight of the year goes down this weekend at UFC 286 between two of 155's most vicious strikers. Justin Gaethje is the former interim Lightweight champion, currently ranked #3 in the division. His 2021 Fight of The Year winner (free on YouTube) is arguably the most action-packed ever. Seeing his fights live is one of the most desired privileges in MMA. His last time out came against Charles Oliveira at UFC 274, where he was unsuccessful at capturing the Lightweight title.
Rafael Fiziev is the hottest prospect in the Lightweight division. His recent two wins are a pair of knockouts over Rafael Dos Anjos and Brad Riddell, the latter of whom he finished with a wheel kick. His combination of explosiveness and unparalleled technique make him one of, if not the most dangerous striker in the division. Fans have expressed more interest in his fight vs. Gaethje at UFC 286 than the Welterweight title trilogy bout in the main event between Leon Edwards and Kamaru Usman- for good reason.
Let us know with a comment who you think should be Islam Makhachev's next fight in the UFC.