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Islam Makhachev wants welterweight shot after lightweight defense

UFC lightweight champion Islam Makhachev is scheduled to defend his title against a familiar foe at UFC 294 on Oct. 21, and would like to challenge for the welterweight strap with a win.

Makhachev (24-1) faces former champion Charles Oliveira (34-9) in the main event of UFC 294 in Abu Dhabi, while UFC welterweight champion Leon Edwards will see Colby Covington at UFC 296 in December. Makhachev, who ESPN ranks the No. 2 pound-for-pound fighter in the world, told ESPN he would like to face the winner, especially since the UFC allowed featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski a chance to face him in February. Makhachev won via decision.

"I don't know what the UFC has planned, but my dream fight is for the second belt," Makhachev told ESPN. "Of course, I am under contract, so whatever the UFC says, I will fight, no problem. But Edwards vs. Colby -- I really believe I can beat [the winner]. I look at their skills and what they have as champion and I know my skills. It's going to be a good fight. I'm not saying I'm going to beat them easy. It's going to be a hard, tough fight against a big guy. But I believe I can finish those guys.

"I gave a chance to that guy, so they have to give me a chance, too. I gave a chance to a guy from another division to come to my weight and to try to take this belt, and he lost. I want my chance, too."

Edwards (21-3) has mostly ignored Makhachev's interest in a champion vs. champion matchup, but Covington (17-3) recently disparaged Makhachev's skills in an interview with My MMA News. Makhachev said he hopes Covington will win and the UFC will book that matchup.

"I hope [Covington] wins, because I don't know what Leon says about [fighting me]," Makhachev said. "I've never heard Leon say he wants this fight. But Colby wants it. That's why I want Colby to win and we can meet one day. It would be a very good fight, he has good wrestling. It's going to be U.S. wrestling vs. Dagestan wrestling. He's a good fighter. He has good wrestling and good conditioning, but in my opinion, I stop his wrestling and land many good punches."

As for the job currently ahead of him, Makhachev said he's not overlooking Oliveira, but is understandably very confident after submitting the Brazilian fighter exactly one year ago at UFC 280. Oliveira earned a title rematch by knocking out Beneil Dariush in June, and has admitted he had an off night against Makhachev the first time they fought. Oliveira has even said he refuses to watch the replay of that loss. Makhachev believes there is a reason behind that.

"That fight reminds him of the time he gave up," Makhachev said. "When he watches this fight, he remembers everything that happened there. He tried to push me and land some punches, but when he doesn't have insurance, he just gives up. ... This fight is interesting for the people, everybody wants to see this match again. But if I follow the plan, I can beat this guy easy, again. I believe that."