Islam Makhachev is gearing up for his first defence of the UFC lightweight title. At UFC 284 he’ll be meeting UFC featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski, who is jumping up to 155 lbs for the first time since his UFC debut in 2016.
Makhachev won the vacant title in a bout with Charles Oliveira last year. Oliveira was the first UFC lightweight champion following the retirement of ex-champ Khabib Nurmagomedov, Makhachev’s close friend and mentor.
Since Nurmagomedov’s retirement in 2020, ‘The Eagle’ had been an ever-present feature in the corners and saunas of his teammates. However, Nurmagomedov recently revealed that he needed to take a further step back from the sport and that he would not be travelling with fighters to events.
Makhachev recently spoke to Fox Sports Australia about any kind of adjustment that might mean for his fight with Volkanovski.
The current champ also made sure to explain he understood his friend’s decision and held no grudges over it.
“I understand him, because he was retired, but he still travelled a lot with the whole team,” Makhachev said (ht MMA Junkie). “And when somebody has a fight, he goes to the training camp, went to the other things. And when you retire, you want to spend time with your family. For example, 2022 he spent just two months at home with his family, but all the other time he travelled a lot. That’s why he wants to spend more time with his family.”
“I fought a couple of times without him in my corner,” Makhachev added. “He gave me good support for this fight. We talked about this fight. He gave me the plan. I have to fight, that’s why we will see.”
Makhachev claimed the title with his eleventh straight win in the Octagon. The Dagestani has a near perfect record, with his only loss in 24 bouts coming in 2015 thanks to a shock first round TKO to Adriano Martins. Since then he has defeated Dan Hooker, Armen Tsarukyan and Thiago Moises.
UFC 284 takes place on February 12 at the RAC Arena in Perth Australia. Islam Makhachev vs. Alexander Volkanosvki for the UFC lightweight title is the main event. Yair Rodriguez vs. Josh Emmett for the interim featherweight title serves as the co-main event.
About the author: Tim Bissell is a writer, editor and deputy site manager for Bloody Elbow. He has covered combat sports since 2015. Tim covers news and events and has also written longform and investigative pieces. (full bio)
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