Currently, Islam Makhachev doesn't give the UFC featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski much thought, but that could change very soon.
As he gets ready to take on Charles Oliveira in the main event of UFC 280, Makhachev, who is presently riding a 10-fight winning run, is aware that Volkanovski will step in if anything goes wrong in the days leading up to the event. Additionally, UFC President Dana White has stated that Volkanovski would receive the next title opportunity regardless of what transpires at the event on Saturday.
Makhachev, who had seen Volkanovski earlier in the week, didn't appear very impressed by his size. But as long as the title is up for grabs, he doesn't seem to mind who is standing across from him.
“Honestly, I met Volkanovski downstairs – he’s a short guy,” Makhachev said during UFC 280 media day. “I ask him why you need to cut weight right now? But if I beat Volkanovski people are going to say [I beat a smaller opponent] but people are always going to talk.
“[Right now] I want to fight with Charles, and I hope he’s going to make weight. But it doesn’t matter. This camp, I trained so hard, it doesn’t matter who is going to be there. Saturday night, I need someone.”
Despite Oliveira's failure to reach the 155-pound limit before his previous match against Justin Gaethje, which cost him the UFC lightweight title, Makhachev didn't seem overly concerned about the matter.
Makhachev still sees Oliveira as the divisional champion even though he may not think of him as the greatest in the world, therefore technically there is no championship on the line in the UFC 280 main event.
Makhachev will gladly devote all of his attention to Volkanovski if he wins and becomes the UFC lightweight champion if that fight ultimately serves as his first title defense.
Makhachev is excited about the opportunity to defeat Volkanovski at home, where the UFC will be returning in February.