Islam Makhachev: ‘I’m not just champion, I’m the best fighter in the world’ after beating Alexander Volkanovski

Islam Makhachev believes that he left no doubt who is the No. 1 fighter in the MMA weight category.

The UFC lightweight champion successfully defended his title against featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski in Saturday’s main event at UFC 284, earning a unanimous decision. With this win, Makhachev inflicted his first UFC loss on Volkanovski, snapping the Australian star’s 22-fight winning streak and extending his best ever UFC win streak to 12.

He also won the match, which was billed by the promotion as a clash between the two best fighters in the world, regardless of weight. At the evening press conference after the fight, Makhachev told the media that the victory over Volkanovski makes him the undisputed best in the world.

“It doesn’t matter how I won today, now I’m not just a champion, I’m the best fighter in the world,” Makhachev said. “I am very happy. Now people will call me not just a champion, but “the best fighter in the world.” This is my dream and no matter how I win, I am very happy.”

Makhachev threw down the gauntlet after capturing the UFC lightweight title with a dominant submission victory over Charles Oliveira last October at UFC 280. Volkanovski and welcomed the opportunity to compete in Volkanovski’s homeland of Australia.

While there are still many challenges ahead of him in his division, he saw Volkanovski as the most compelling next step in his reign.

“It was a tough fight with Volkanovski for many reasons,” Makhachev said. “I come from another country, more than 13,000 kilometers from my country, I come with my team and the time has changed and we come to the arena early in the morning, much more. But I don’t prepare for easy fights.

“We are not fighting for the belt, but for who will become the best fighter in the world. That’s why it was a tough fight.”

The scorecards were unanimous in Makhachev’s favour, although much of the fight was tight and the two judges scored it 48–47, giving the challenger two rounds. Unlike many of his previous fights, Makhachev was unable to launch a serious offense with wrestling, meaning he had to outmaneuver the dangerous Volkanovski.

Volkanovski said during his speech at the post-fight press conference that he heard Makhachev express doubt about the outcome when he returned to his corner after the final bell, but Makhachev denied the rumor.

“I didn’t say that,” he said. “I know that when the fight is over, I know that I won at least three rounds. I didn’t say I didn’t lose anything.

Unsurprisingly, given how competitive the fight was, not everyone agreed with the decision, including former UFC star Nate Diaz, who tweeted“Islam kicked its ass.”

Makhachev chuckled as he responded to Diaz’s assessment.

“Honestly, I don’t want to talk about this guy,” Makhachev said. “I don’t know what he’s saying. Maybe he was smoking something and watching the fight.”

When the official UFC rankings are updated later this week, it is almost certain that Makhachev will be recognized by the promotion as the No. 1 fighter in the rankings, regardless of weight class. How long his name will remain in that spot is anyone’s guess, especially with former UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones returning next month to take on Cyril Gein for the vacant heavyweight title at UFC 285.

Until his recent hiatus, Jones was widely regarded as the undisputed king of pound for pound, a status Makhachev has no plans to relinquish to him anytime soon.

“Jon Jones is a great fighter,” Makhachev said. “He is the best, but the last time he won by split decision, he always had a tough fight. I don’t know, I don’t think he will be the best after this fight because why am I the best now? Because I beat the best fighter in the world. That’s why I think I deserve it more and if someone wants to be the best, I’m ready. Sign in.”


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