Charles Oliveira’s dramatic win over Justin Gaethje at UFC 274 helped him retain his status at the world’s best lightweight, but he doesn’t have the UFC belt in his possession after missing weight on Friday.
Instead of another successful title defense for ‘Do Bronx,’ the belt is currently vacant and he’ll face a top contender for the championship in his next outing. The most logical option would be Islam Makhachev, who’s only behind Dustin Poirier and Gaethje in the rankings and hasn’t faced Oliveira yet. One person who’s vouching for Oliveira vs. Makhachev next is, unsurprisingly, Islam’s teammate and former UFC lightweight king Khabib Nurmagomedov.
Makhachev (22-1) is coming off a first-round TKO of short notice foe Bobby Green, who filled in for the injured Beneil Dariush. Since his lone loss to Adriano Martins in 2015, Makhachev has looked every bit like the Khabib heir apparent, and he’s been racking up the finishes against the likes of Dan Hooker, Drew Dober, and Thiago Moises.
It was expected that Makhachev vs. Dariush would be re-booked later this summer, but there’s nothing official on that front and there’s no doubt that despite Makhachev’s lack of wins against the top-10, his performances make him the most intriguing opponent for Oliveira.
For what it’s worth, it seems as if Islam is already shooting his shot for October, too.