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Makhachev shoots down Holloway fight: 'He has a job in his division'

Chris Unger / UFC / Getty

Islam Makhachev isn't interested in a fight with Max Holloway - at least not now.

The UFC lightweight champion is scheduled to return to action against Dustin Poirier in the UFC 302 main event June 1 in Newark, New Jersey. Holloway knocked out top 155-pound contender Justin Gaethje at UFC 300 to put himself in title contention at lightweight in addition to featherweight, but Makhachev believes they both have more work to do before a fight makes sense.

"If (Holloway) beats a couple more guys in my division, we can fight," Makhachev told the New York Post's Scott Fontana in an interview published Tuesday. "But I don't want to give him a chance now. I have some contenders who I have to beat. Now, I have Dustin. After, we have (No. 1-ranked lightweight) Arman (Tsarukyan). I think I have (a) job in my division, he has a job in his division. Maybe if he wins his next fight, maybe he beats (UFC featherweight champion Ilia) Topuria, and I finish (my next) two fights, maybe."

Holloway mentioned Makhachev in his postfight interview after capturing the BMF title, but the Hawaiian seems more keen on returning to his original division to challenge Topuria for the featherweight title that he once held. Topuria and Holloway have traded shots on X since the landmark event happened earlier in April. However, the UFC has yet to confirm whether that'll be the next 145-pound title bout.

Makhachev said he was surprised by Holloway's win over Gaethje, a masterful performance in the stand-up department before Holloway shut out his opponent's lights at the 4:59 mark of the fifth round.

"I thought Justin could finish him," Makhachev said. "But how the fight (went), how Max Holloway did, he deserves all this hype and this fight, because he knocked out the guy who has good power in his hands, and he beat him all around."

Though Makhachev is booked to face Poirier and sees a rematch with Tsarukyan as the logical next step, the UFC's pound-for-pound king has an even bigger goal on his mind. Makhachev has defended the lightweight belt twice since capturing it in 2022, both times against then-featherweight champ Alexander Volkanovski. Because he gave Volkanovski a chance to make history, the Dagestani fighter thinks it's only right that he gets his own opportunity to become a two-division champion.

"My dream fight, I have to fight for the next division, 170 (pounds). I have to fight with Leon Edwards," Makhachev said.

"I already give some chance to fighters from the 145 (division). That's why. I need my chance for the second belt."

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