Top-ranked contender Islam Makhachev could be passed over by Conor McGregor for a lightweight title shot, says his longtime coach.
Makhachev fights Bobby Green in the main event of Saturday’s UFC Vegas 49 event. Originally, Makhachev was set to fight Beneil Dariush in what everyone assumed was a No. 1 contender fight. UFC lightweight champion Charles Oliveira will likely take on Justin Gaethje next, with the winner of Makhachev vs. Dariush up next after that. But even with Dariush out, Makhachev would still have a good argument for a title shot if he beats Green, as a win improves his overall UFC record to 11-1.
While most observers believe Makhachev has done enough to fight for the belt, we all know that MMA can be about who sells the most pay-per-views, and we all know McGregor sells the most. Although McGregor has lost two straight fights to Dustin Poirier by stoppage and is currently mending his broken leg, Makhachev’s coach Javier Mendez believes the Irishman could still jump the line for the title shot.
Speaking to Submission Radio in a recent interview, Mendez said he wouldn’t be surprised if McGregor bypassed Makhachev for a lightweight title shot simply due to him being a massive superstar.
“That’s part of the game. He carries the big numbers, so whatever the UFC decides. I’m expecting anything can happen with the guy that has the power to do that. Do I like it? Absolutely not. But do I have a choice? Absolutely not. To me the rankings are bulls**t. They always have been bullshit. They’re still bulls**t. So, I don’t really care about the rankings,” Mendez said (h/t Cole Shelton of BJPenn.com).
“Whoever gets that opportunity, it’s like I always say, this is not a true sport, this is entertainment first, sport second. In the entertainment value, the UFC wants the most money. Who’s going to create the most money for them? That’s where they’re going to go. And guess what? That’s what they’re going to do. So, we’ll see what the UFC wants. I’m prepared for whatever they do, and I’m not going to be upset one way or another. Do I think it’s fair? Absolutely not. If Islam doesn’t get the title fight should he beat Bobby, it’s not fair. But nothing is fair. Look what Khabib had to do to get to where he was at. He had to go through a lot of crap too.”
Do you think Islam Makhachev will get a lightweight title shot, or will Conor McGregor get it instead?
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