While it hasn’t been confirmed by the Ultimate Fighting Championship, many fans and pundits alike believe the next lightweight title fight will be contested between Charles Oliveira and Islam Makhachev. ‘Do Bronx’ is no longer the champion after being stripped following a weigh-in controversy prior to his fight against Justin Gaethje, but in the eyes of many, he’s still the man to beat at 155 pounds.
Makhachev, on the other hand, has been running through his opponents in the last couple of years to the point where it’s almost impossible to deny that he deserves a shot at the gold.
Whether or not he’ll get it is an entirely different conversation given some of the other parties involved, but he’s definitely one of the leading contenders.
Khabib Nurmagomedov, who has been campaigning for Islam to get a crack at the belt for a long time now, even suggested in a recent interview that they could be interested in taking on Oliveira in Brazil.
“This is not Islam or Khabib’s organization, this is UFC [and] they have owners. They make these decisions,” Nurmagomedov said. “Ok, if they say Brazil, we’ll love this. Come to Brazil, fight with Brazilian champion and finish him with Brazilian jiu-jitsu style. I love this. What you think about this? It’s gonna be hard?
“I really believe Islam can finish him on the ground. I really believe this. Now you guys gonna judge me because Islam, but who cares? Who cares? If they say Brazil, OK, let’s go Brazil. Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo.”
Could it happen?
UFC president Dana White has already said that the promotion is going to go where it’s easy to do business and right now, Brazil doesn’t appear to fit into that category.
What does seem to be on the table, though, is a showdown at the upcoming UFC 281 pay-per-view in Abu Dhabi.
It’s the perfect stage for Makhachev to try and finally ascend to the top of the lightweight division and even though Oliveira has already proven what he can do at the elite level, Islam has been waiting for this opportunity for a long time.