After retaining his title at UFC 284, who is next for Islam Makhachev?

This past Saturday in the headliner of UFC 284, the lightweight title was on the line. Champion Islam Makhachev (24-1) took on the featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski (25-2). This was the first time in history the promotion’s number one and number two P4P fighters faced off.

In the first round, Makhachev did a really good job of landing strikes from range. He also secured a takedown which sealed the first round for him. The next two rounds were razor close. Makhachev couldn’t get Volkanovski down to the mat and the two were very even on the feet.

Personally, I scored those two rounds for the featherweight champion, but I can see the argument for the other side. The third round seemed pretty clear to go to Volkanovski. In the fourth round, Makhachev got a takedown and secured the back of Volkanovski.

He didn’t do much with the position, but the control was a clear round for him. The fifth round was not close either but in favor of the featherweight champion. Volkanovski dropped and beat down on Makhachev. When the scores were read at the end though, Islam Makhachev won on all three scorecards retaining his UFC lightweight title.

Who is next after UFC 284?

After this win, there’s not a clear cut next contender for Islam Makhachev. If you look at the UFC’s lightweight rankings, most of the top guys outside of Dustin Poirier are booked up. That being said, depending on when Makhachev returns, Poirier could be the next guy in line.

So far, The Diamond is 0-2 in his attempts to capture undisputed UFC lightweight gold. After his finish over Michael Chandler, he could get the next shot. Beneil Dariush and Charles Oliveira are tentatively scheduled to fight in May. Rafael Fiziev and Justin Gaethje fight in March. The winners of those fights could also be next.

Alexander Volkanovski should also get some consideration from the UFC. Granted, it’s rather obvious that he will return to featherweight to face Yair Rodriguez. If I had to put money on anyone right now, I’d say Dustin Poirier gets the shot.

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