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Makhachev reacts to Dana White’s P4P demotion: “That’s his opinion”

Islam Makhachev isn’t too worried about UFC CEO Dana White’s comments denying he’s the No. 1 pound-for-pound fighter in the world. But he’s still looking for the biggest fights possible to take him to that level.

Makhachev had a strong performance against a very game Dustin Poirier at UFC 302, taking the fight to “Diamond” on his feet and submitting him midway through the fifth round (bad guys here). It wasn’t pure dominance like we’re used to with his friend and mentor Khabib Nurmagomedov, but it was a reminder that Islam will be very hard to dethrone at 155 pounds.

But is he P4P no. 1 in the UFC right now? No, according to White, who vehemently declared Jon Jones to be over Makhachev, no questions asked. This is despite the fact that Makhachev has been No. 1 in the official UFC rankings since last year.

When it was the Dagestan fighter’s turn to speak at the UFC 302 post-fight press conference, he dismissed White’s statements.

“I don’t know, maybe it’s his opinion,” he said. “But I think I saved this book today, because all these boring fights and the whole arena is almost asleep. And we show Dustin (a) great performance. Dana gave me two bonuses. Before I remember when I had my first contract, I was happy when I got bonuses. But it’s okay now.”

Makhachev’s mission now is to get a second welterweight belt.

“Who doesn’t want to be a double champion?” he said when asked about his future. “This is history, how many double champions do we have? This is a dream for all fighters to get their second belt. This is my dream and I want to be in history so that people know me as a double champion. If I have a chance, a small chance, I’ll take it and it’s (this) thing that makes me get up every morning and train really hard.”

The win over Poirier marks Makhachev’s third successful lightweight title defense. No one has defended that belt four times, but Islam seemed uninterested in coming out on top at 155 this way.

“I’m not chasing records, I’m not breaking a record or anything like that,” he said. “If you want a big legacy, you have to get the second belt. It is my opinion.”

A second belt is certainly brighter on the resume, but at this point it looks like the UFC will have Makhachev defend his lightweight title against Arman Tsarukyan.

“I’m ready,” Islam said of that fight. “Dana has my number. Call me and set a new challenge. It doesn’t make sense (why) we would have a rematch, but if Dana wants it, let’s do it. No problem.”

The only requirement Makhachev has is to compete in New York City instead of Abu Dhabi.

“Honestly, it’s my dream to fight in Madison Square Garden,” he explained. “And now I think the American fans like me because we’re fighting well tonight. If I get a chance to go back to Madison Square Garden, that’s my dream, to fight in this arena.”

Unfortunately for Makhachev, November’s UFC Madison Square Garden card is already slated for Jon Jones vs. Stipe Miocic. So once again Jones messes up the business of Islam by making Makhachev vs. Tsarukyan to be much more likely for October in Abu Dhabi.