Islam Makhachev, according to Javier Mendez, will win the lightweight title. After that, he'll face featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski.
Makhachev will face Charles Oliveira in the main event of UFC 280 for his first shot at the title. Makhachev has faced a number of doubters among the lightweight elite in the build-up to the fight, claiming that he is unproven and will not dominate Oliveira. Oliveira himself stated that he has faced tougher opponents, and his coach argued that Makhachev's greatest strength, his wrestling, will not be sufficient to take Oliveira down. But for Makhachev's coach, Mendez, it's all just noise. He expects Makhachev to dominate like he has his previous ten opponents on fight night.
While speaking to Submission radio Mendez said “Well, first of all, he’s gonna take him down,’ “It’s just a matter of when, but he will take him down, and Charles is not gonna be able to stand. If Islam doesn’t want to stand, he will not, he’ll be taken down. He is second to Khabib in being able to take people down, and he will go down. Charles will go down. Charles is not known to be a wrestler. “
“The bottom line is, the thing about this fight is, wanna stand up? Okay, let’s go. Going to the ground? Okay, let’s go. So, we’ll see who can dominate where when that time comes. But we’re prepared to dominate in the standup, we’re prepared to dominate on the ground. And they are too. They’re well prepared. He’s a champion for a reason.”
Makhachev is the hand-picked successor to Khabib Nurmagomedov, the former champion and lightweight GOAT, who vacated the title without ever losing a fight. As a result, expectations for Makhachev are high, but for good reason, according to Mendez. What he's seen in the practice room contributes to his confidence in Makhachev heading into the lightweight title fight. So he expects Makhachev to show the world what he and Khabib already know at UFC 280.
“In all the history, since 2012, since Khabib’s been doing sparring with me in front of my eyes, there has been nobody that’s ever taken a round from him. No one’s ever won a sparring session. Not a sparring session with Khabib ever. Except one man. Islam,” Mendez said. “He’s the only one that has won rounds from Khabib. Never won a session, but he’s won rounds. And I’ve never seen that.
Winning the championship would be just the beginning for Makhachev. The No. 3-ranked lightweight in the MMA Fighting Global Rankings is on a 10-fight winning streak, but he has yet to face many of the division's top talent, which means he will have plenty of opportunities as champion.
One that appears to be on many people's minds is a rematch with former champion Conor McGregor, who had one of the most heated rivalries with Khabib. Mendez, on the other hand, prefers another name that has recently been thrown into the lightweight title picture featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski.
Let us know in the comments how many of you think that Islam Makhachev dominates Charles Oliviera and becomes the new UFC Lightweight Champion.