Islam Makhachev, the undisputed UFC lightweight champion, has recently revealed his choice for his next title defense. In an interview with BT Sports, Makhachev stated that he wants Beneil Dariush to win against Charles Oliveira at UFC 288 on May 6th, 2023, as he sees Dariush as a more challenging opponent.
After defeating featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski in a pound-for-pound match this past February at UFC 284, the UFC lightweight champion is seeking his second title defense. The Dagestani champion could soon have an outcome thanks to the UFC's addition of matches like Justin Gaethje vs. Rafael Fiziev but also Charles Oliveira vs. Beneil Dariush.
Makhachev is extremely hesitant to schedule another championship fight against the Brazilian superstar because of the lopsided contest in which he dropped Oliveira to become the champion. Makhachev will indeed so choose to battle Dariush over those alternatives.
“I hope Beneil wins because I already beat Oliveira and I need some new challenge,” said Makhachev in a recent interview with BT Sport.
“Dariush is going to be a good fight because this guy has good skills — striking skills, wrestling skills, and grappling skills,” continued Dariush. “That’s why it’s going to be a good fight. Oliveira, if he wants a rematch, if he shows a good performance, maybe he’s going to be next. I don’t know.”
At UFC Vegas 49, Makhachev and Dariush were initially supposed to square off, however, Dariush withdrew due to an ankle injury. After accepting a last-minute bout against Bobby Green, Makhachev defeated the veteran by first-round knockout to win his first shot at the crown.
Conor McGregor and Michael Chandler are anticipated to square off following their coaching showdown on The Ultimate Fighter 31. Although Makhachev isn't giving McGregor or Chandler a major focus, he is aware of the potential financial impact of a battle with the well-liked McGregor.
“I’m not watching this because they’re both such smart guys,” Makhachev said. “Conor chose Chandler. Chandler lost on purpose because if he beat a couple of guys it was never going to happen, versus McGregor. Of course [I think he lost on purpose.] He fights like crazy like he comes from the streets. That’s why they make the fight.”
“[McGregor] does not deserve [a title shot] if he beats Chandler or some of the guys,” Makhachev added. “But if UFC want, why not? Make some good money. Let’s go.”
Makhachev is prepared to agree when the time comes, that much is clear. The UFC lightweight champion fought Volkanovski for five tough rounds, but he appears to be free of major chronic injuries, and he plans to return to the octagon eventually.