With Charles Oliveira beating Justin Gaethje at UFC 274 but leaving without the lightweight title, former champion Khabib Nurmagomedov is now pushing for his fighter to get the next shot at the belt.
Despite a blistering first-round submission victory, Oliveira is technically now the No. 1 contender at 155 pounds after he missed weight for Saturday’s headliner. Meanwhile, Islam Makhachev is riding a 10-fight winning streak of his own, which includes four straight finishes over Bobby Green, Dan Hooker, Thiago Moises and Drew Dober.
While Makhachev has been rumored for a fight against Beneil Dariush later this year, Nurmagomedov argues that there’s only one battle that makes sense.
“Dana White, you have no other choice but make Oliveira vs. Islam fight in Abu Dhabi, October 22,” Nurmagomedov wrote on Twitter. “Perfect date, perfect location, perfect opponents with perfect winning streaks — 10 versus 11.”
Makhachev has pushed for an October return, which lines up nicely with an expected UFC event on “Fight Island” in Abu Dhabi this fall.
Following a win over Green in February, Makhachev passed on a short-notice opportunity to face ex-lightweight champion Rafael dos Anjos just days later when he needed an opponent at UFC 272. That led to White declaring he still needed to go through Dariush to earn a title shot.
Nurmagomedov doesn’t believe that’s necessary, especially with the lightweight title sitting vacant.
“Why Islam Makhachev has to do contender fight if there’s no champion in this division,” Nurmagomedov wrote.
While it’s tough to argue with the logic considering the current title situation, Oliveira has certainly established himself as the best lightweight in the UFC regardless of the belt.
Oliveira also engaged in a back-and-forth war with Gaethje before securing the first-round finish, so he might need time off before returning. However, October is still five months away.
Dariush will also have something to say about this plan as well, considering he’s on a seven-fight winning streak with four finishes by knockout or submission. He also has a pair of signature wins on his resume over Diego Ferreira and Tony Ferguson that put him in the same race as Makhachev.
At this time, the UFC has made no decision about what will happen with the lightweight title other than declaring Oliveira as one of the next two fighters to challenge for the belt.