UFC lightweight champion Islam Makhachev will make his first title defense at UFC 284 on Saturday, Feb. 11. Makhachev will fight UFC featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski at the RAC Arena in Perth, Western Australia. Volkanovski is attempting to become the fifth double champion in UFC history. The fight will headline a main card that will begin at 10 p.m. ET on ESPN+ PPV.
Makhachev (23-1), much like his trainer and mentor Khabib Nurmagomedov, was a lightweight that no one in the top five rankings seemed to be eager to face, Rumored fights against Justin Gaethje and Dustin Poirier never materialized and it left Makhachev without a signature win on his record.
In fact, Makhachev’s final fight before his title shot wasn’t even at 155 pounds. He fought a late substitute, Bobby Green, at a 160-pound catchweight in February 2022 when Beneil Dariush backed out of the fight with an ankle injury. Makhachev won the fight by TKO in the first round.
At that time the current UFC lightweight champion Charles Oliveira did not seem interested in a fight with Makhachev. He had a fight with Gaethje on the books for UFC 274 in May 2022 and wanted to get a “money” fight against injured star Conor McGregor or then welterweight champion Kamaru Usman after that.
Oliveira, however, missed weight by a half pound in a disputed weigh-in and was stripped of the title. He went on to submit Gaethje in the first round, but the title was held up. UFC President Dana White ordered a fight between Makhachev and Oliveira at UFC 280 in October for the vacant lightweight title. At UFC 280 Makhachev was a -190 favorite at DraftKings Sportsbook.
In the first round Oliveira charged but Makhachev hurt him with a left hand, Oliveira remained aggressive and pulled guard on Makhachev, choosing to fight from his back and go for submissions. Makhachev, who wanted to go on the ground against Oliveira, cut him with an elbow and successfully fought off a triangle attempt. Both fighters continued to grapple for the rest of the round with Makhachev dominating the action from the top position and likely winning a 10-8 round.
Oliveira continued to be aggressive and tried to get Makhachev down again before being pinned against the cage before breaking back into stand-up. Makhachev landed a 1-2 combo and a head kick from stand-up and got a knockdown on a nasty right hand. From there Makhachev jumped on an arm triangle and got the submission at 3:17 of the second round.