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Daily Mirror
Daily Mirror
Donagh Corby

Islam Makhachev's own coach admits UFC champion is ranked too highly

UFC lightweight champion Islam Makhachev's coach Javier Mendez isn't sure his fighter has earned his spot on the UFC pound-for-pound rankings after just one major win.

The Dagestani fighter won the 155lb belt from highly-ranked Charles Oliveira at UFC 280 in October with a dominant second-round submission. But Mendez is still keen to see him step up and face more of the sport's top fighters before he can lay claim to the top spot in MMA's top promotion.

Makhachev will have the chance to prove his credentials again in February when the No.1 fighter in the world Alexander Volkanovski moves up to lightweight to challenge him for the world title. The Australian has been featherweight champion since 2019 and beaten all but one of the division's previous champions before being crowned No.1 when welterweight Kamaru Usman was dethroned in August.

“Look, you know this just as much as I do, Islam went to No.2 spot pound-for-pound in the UFC in just one fight - how?,” Mendez said during an interview in Spanish with MMA Junkie. “I know he’s good, and I believe he’s No.1. I do believe that. But to give him that spot of No. 2 pound-for-pound in just one fight, no. I know in my heart with time he’ll be No.1. Simple as that. He’s going to be No.1. But they gave him this just because of one fight. No, I don’t like that. It was done too quickly.”

Makhachev had been due to face Beneil Dariush in a No.1-contender fight for the title earlier this year, but ended up facing Bobby Green instead, who was a considerably lower-ranked opponent. He has yet to defeat a former champion other than Oliveira, and even in his world title fight was competing for a vacant belt due to the Brazilian missing weight prior to his last defence.

Islam Makhachev's coach Javier Mendez believes he needs to prove himself further (Zuffa LLC)

Do you believe that Islam Makhachev is a deserved pound-for-pound No.2 in the UFC? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below!

And while Mendez believes that the champion could ultimately rival the achievements of his close friend and training partner Khabib Nurmagomedov, he thinks that he first needs some bigger wins. He gets that opportunity when he travels to Perth at UFC 284 to face Volkanovski in hostile away territory.

“He’s the man, but he needs to do more,” Mendez said. “That’s what I believe. He needs to beat Volkanovski, then Dariush. He needs to beat those guys, so you can say he’s No.1. Look at what Volkanovski is doing. He mopped the floor with all the challengers that are in his weight class. Everyone. He cleared them all out. Islam needs to clear everyone out. Again, I feel he’s No.1, but in order to get that you need to finish everyone, that’s how it works. That’s how I think.”

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