Manager details why Islam Makhachev doesn’t have a fight booked, gives timeframe for return

By Cole Shelton - January 9, 2024

UFC lightweight champion Islam Makhachev appears to be on the sidelines for quite some time.

Islam Makhachev

Makhachev defended his lightweight title for the second time with a first-round knockout over Alexander Volkanovski back in October. After the fight, many expected Makhachev to return in the first quarter of 2024 before Ramadan and he was pushing to return on March 9.

However, Islam Makhachev will not be on UFC 299 on March 9 and according to his manager Ali Abdelaziz, that was the UFC’s call. With Makhachev not fighting in March, Abdelaziz claims the lightweight champion now won’t return until Ramadan is over.

“The deal was for Islam to fight March 9, of course, the UFC has a headliner already, Sean O’Malley. They said he’s the main event and it didn’t work out,” Ali Abdelaziz said to ESPN about Islam Makhachev. “They said fight in February, but it was too close to his fight. It is what it is, he’s just going to wait for Ramadan, or maybe the UFC will call tomorrow and say O’Malley is out, we need Islam, maybe he can fight March 9. Islam is always training, always in shape, he’s always a professional.”

Ramadan is set for March 10 until April 9 and after that, Islam Makhachev needs a training camp, which puts the summer as a possible return date for the lightweight champ. But, with the UFC going back to Abu Dhabi in October, perhaps the promotion decides to keep Makhachev on the shelf until October in Abu Dhabi.

When Islam Makhachev does return to the Octagon, Ali Abdelaziz believes the opponent should be Justin Gaethje, as it is the matchup that excites Makhachev.

“Islam Makhachev is very interested in fighting him, but Islam has the quote in the PI, he has to hold onto it. He said doesn’t matter who, when, or how, I will fight anybody they give me. In my opinion, and I don’t know if my opinion means much, but Justin Gaethje has earned it and Islam is really excited about fighting (him),” Abdelaziz continued.

A fight between Islam Makhachev and Justin Gaethje would be very intriguing and does make sense. But, with Charles Oliveira taking on Arman Tsarukyan at UFC 300, the winner of that fight could very well face Makhachev next time out.


Islam Makhachev UFC