It is official! Islam Makhachev is the new pound-for-pound king of the UFC. After he defended his title against Volkanovski for the second time in late October, the promotion finally recognized the lightweight champion as the most dominant fighter on the planet.
UFC Rankings Update: Islam Makhachev Dethroned Jon Jones in the UFC P4P Rankings
Jon Jones has been the P4P king throughout the last few years apart from a few short periods when Khabib Nurmagomedov was number one and then Alexander Volkanovski. As soon as Makhachev beat Voklanovski on October 21, everyone expected that he would move to the top position as soon as the rankings got updated on the following Monday. It took a couple of weeks but it is finally official.
You may not like him for more than one or two reasons but you cannot deny that he is the best fighter in the world right now. Yes, Jon Jones is arguably the greatest one to ever do it but his recent dealings look modest next to Makhachev's achievements. And now that Jones will be out for at least six months and his bout vs. Stipe was canceled, he does not deserve that top spot. One win in four years is not good enough. The highest pound-for-pound positions should be reserved for active fighters.
There has been an ongoing argument that Islam Makhachev is too inactive as a champion and not worthy. But in his last three bouts, he beat Volkanovski twice and Charles Oliveira once, both of whom have been cemented in the Top 5 of the P4P rankings for the past few years.
Islam Makhachev's Next Title Defense: Charles Oliveira or Justin Gaethje?
There were already rumors for a rematch against Charles Oliveira in January or February. With the latest announcement from Dana White, this bout is not going to happen earlier than April 2024. Last night, he revealed the first three PVP events for next year plus the title fights for each one.
This means the earliest we can expect Islam Makhachev to fight will be April or May. There are only two opponents that deserve a title match right now – Charles Oliveira and Justin Gaethje.
After that dominant performance against Charles in the first match, most fans would prefer to see Justin Gaethje get one final shot for the lightweight belt. It would be the more attractive fight for PPV after Charles pulled out of the rematch with just 11 days left until the event in October. Stylistically, it would also be a more exciting match to watch. Makhachev would have the advantage, of course, but if there is a fighter that can hurt him, it is Justin. If you remember, Khabib Nurmagomedov once said that he had never been hit so hard as in the match against “The Highlight”.
Justin Gaethje won the BMF belt against Dustin Poirier earlier this year and he is a fan favorite. On the other side, we have to note Oliveira's insolence in recent weeks. He literally said that he would give up his title shot if he were offered a match against Conor McGregor.
Who do you think deserves this match more?