Chael Sonnen has suggested that Islam Makhachev deserves a shot at the vacant UFC lightweight title. In an edition of Beyond the FightSonnen acknowledged that Makhachev’s yet to beat a UFC lightweight who’s ranked in the top five.
Regardless, ‘The Bad Guy’ believes that this doesn’t necessarily mean that Islam Makhachev hasn’t proven his mettle. Pointing out the ongoing discussions in the MMA community, Sonnen stated:
“They were predicting that Islam is going to fight for a world championship, but they were resisting that, saying that Islam would be the first person in history to fight for a world championship who had not defeated anybody within the top five. That’s not factually incorrect, but I do feel that that is extremely misleading. Now, hold that thought. It appears, if we were to discuss what’s next for Islam, we’re at two places.”
Highlighting Makhachev’s two likeliest next moves, Sonnen noted that he could either face Beneil Dariush next or fight Charles Oliveira for the vacant UFC lightweight title.
Sonnen alluded to the fact that there’s been speculation regarding the UFC possibly rescheduling Makhachev’s clash against Dariush. Makhachev and Dariush were scheduled to fight one another in February. However, Dariush withdrew due to a foot injury. The consensus is that the fight could be rescheduled and the fight’s winner would receive a UFC lightweight title shot.
Speaking of which, Sonnen explained that since Dariush is yet to recover from his injury, the UFC could refrain from rescheduling the Makhachev-Dariush matchup. Sonnen emphasized that the UFC could instead book Makhachev to fight Oliveira for the vacant title next.
Furthermore, ‘The Bad Guy’ referenced Makhachev’s impressive 22-1 professional MMA record. He insinuated that it most definitely warrants a title shot for Makhachev despite the fact that he’s yet to beat a top-five-ranked UFC lightweight.
Watch Chael Sonnen lobby for Islam Makhachev to be awarded a title shot in the video below:
A closer look at Islam Makhachev’s MMA record
Islam Makhachev’s lone MMA loss came early in his UFC career via first-round KO against Adriano Martins at UFC 192 in October 2015. Makhachev hasn’t lost since and has amassed a 10-fight win streak.
Of Makhachev’s 22 wins, 4 came via KO/TKO, 10 via submission, and 8 via decision. Makhachev holds impressive victories over notable fighters such as Gleison Tibau, Arman Tsarukyan, Drew Dober, Thiago Moises, and Dan Hooker.
Nevertheless, Makhachev’s detractors argue that his resume still lacks a marquee win over a top-tier UFC lightweight. This would surely change if he were to defeat Dariush. Alternatively, Makhachev could face Charles Oliveira instead, end the latter’s incredible 11-fight win streak, and win the coveted UFC lightweight belt.