Islam Makhachev, a fighter in the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), is only one successful title defense away from tying the record for all-time lightweight champion. Currently, the record for defending the lightweight championship three times is held by notable figures such as Khabib Nurmagomedov, B.J. Penn, Frankie Edgar, and Benson Henderson. A fighter from the American Kickboxing Academy, Makhachev secured his second successful defense in the UFC 294 with a knockout victory in the first round against Alexander Volkanovski. The heated match took place at the Etihad Arena in Abu Dhabi on a Saturday.
Makhachev has the potential of surpassing the current record as early as 2024. With rumored upcoming fights against Charles Oliveira and Justin Gaethje, he could set a new record if all goes well. His achievements have not gone unnoticed within the UFC. At the post-fight press conference, Dana White, the CEO of UFC expressed how confident he was about Makhachev. He said, “He keeps doing what he’s doing, you’ve just got to keep grinding, knocking them down one by one and it will eventually happen.”
White further explained the potential ahead of Makhachev saying, “The truth is when you look at Khabib — and nothing against Khabib, Khabib came in and won the title and defended it — but this kid could go on a defense run that absolutely blows everybody away that ever held the belt in that division.” Makhachev often draws comparisons to Nurmagomedov, who had a remarkable and undefeated career with a 29-0 record. Makhachev has one loss on his record, which may have hampered the amount of recognition he has received compared to “The Eagle”- Nurmagomedov. However, White believes he is making great strides in creating a lasting legacy in UFC.
White’s comments during UFC 294 emphasized Makhachev’s dominance and potential. He said, “The guy’s been dominant and then he goes in, all the controversy that came off the last fight, and he finishes this fight the way that he did. There’s no excuses. It’s not like, ‘Oh, it went into the third round, Volkanovski didn’t have time to train.’ He went in there and viciously, impressively finished this fight with a Cro Cop-esque kick to the head.” He capped off his praise by stating, “It doesn’t get any better than that, against a very tough, durable guy who has a great chin. And you don’t ever see anybody do that to Volkanovski,” emphasizing the impressiveness of Makhachev’s recent win.