Islam Makhachev is gearing up for his first defense of the UFC lightweight title. At UFC 284, he faces UFC featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski, who jumps to 155 pounds for the first time since his UFC debut in 2016.
Makhachev won the vacant title last year in a match with Charles Oliveira. Oliveira was the first UFC lightweight champion after the retirement of ex-champ Khabib Nurmagomedov, Makhachev’s close friend and mentor.
Since Nurmagomedov’s retirement in 2020, “The Eagle” has been a ubiquitous fixture in his teammates’ corners and saunas. However, Nurmagomedov recently announced that he had to take another step away from the sport and would not be traveling to events with fighters.
Makhachev recently spoke to Fox Sports Australia about any sort of adjustment that could mean to his fight with Volkanovski.
The current champion also stated that he understands his friend’s decision and has no grudges about it.
“I understand him because he was retired, but he still traveled a lot with the whole team,” said Makhachev (ht MMA junkie). “And if someone has a fight, they go to training camp, go to the other things. And when you retire, you want to spend time with your family. In 2022, for example, he was only at home with his family for two months, otherwise he was on the road a lot. So he wants to spend more time with his family.”
“I fought a couple of times without him in my corner,” added Makhachev. “He supported me well in this fight. We talked about this fight. He gave me the plan. I have to fight, so we’ll see.”
Makhachev clinched the title with his eleventh straight win in the Octagon. The Dagestani has a near-perfect record, with his only loss in 24 fights in 2015 thanks to a shock first-round TKO to Adriano Martins. Since then he has defeated Dan Hooker, Armen Tsarukyan and Thiago Moises.
When is UFC 284?
UFC 284 takes place on February 12th 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 assistant site manager for Bloody Elbow. He has been reporting on martial arts since 2015. Tim reports on news and events and has also written in-depth and investigative articles. (full bio)