After retaining at UFC 302, what’s next for Islam Makhachev?

MMA: UFC 302-Makhachev vs Poirier
Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

This past Saturday night in the main event of UFC 302, the lightweight title was on the line. The champion Islam Makhachev (26-1) was looking for his third successful title defense when he took on former interim lightweight champion Dustin Poirier (30-9).

The fight started out great for Makhachev who was able to land an early takedown and spent the majority of the first round on the back of Poirier. Poirier was able to survive and really came back strong in the second round. Two of the three judges gave the second round to Poirier who was able to keep things standing and he did some work on the champ.

The third round saw Makhachev rock Poirier on the feet before landing a big takedown and spending a big part of the round on top. The fourth saw Poirier come back strong once again and make it competitive. On one scorecard, the fight was even after four rounds.

The UFC lightweight champion was able to get Poirier down in the final round and he was able to lock in a deep d’arce choke. Poirier wanted to fight but was forced to tap giving Makhachev the massive win at UFC 302.

What’s next after UFC 302?

In the octagon after his win, Makhachev was asked about moving up to welterweight and said it was his dream to fight for another UFC title. However, that’s not going to be next for Makhachev. Makhachev likely already has his next challenger for his lightweight title and it’s a fight that’ll likely happen in October in Abu Dhabi.

The next challenger for Makhachev is going to be Arman Tsarukyan. Tsarukyan has won four in a row including wins over Beneil Dariush and former champion Charles Oliveira. Tsarukyan and Makhachev fought once before on short notice in Russia. Tsarukyan gave Makhachev a helluva fight and lost a close decision.

Makhachev’s toughest fight at 155 is Tsarukyan if you ask me. It’s the fight the UFC wants to make and it’s going to be a helluva rematch.

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