Islam Makhachev returns to the octagon this weekend to face Bobby Green, a late replacement for the injured Beneil Dariush. The initial match would’ve most likely deciphered who faces the winner of Charles Oliveira vs Justin Gaethje later this year. However due to Dariush having to pull out, unranked Bobby Green, who fought just two weeks ago at UFC 271 steps in.
Before I go into further detail, both men deserve respect for taking the fight on short notice.
The problem is, most people expect Islam to defeat Bobby in convincing fashion, especially after the way he dispatched of Dan Hooker at UFC 267, so beating an unranked late replacement wouldn’t mean anything to the audience as Bobby isn’t seen as a title contender like Dan was.
On the flip side, many people were offered this fight, to which they declined, which is not the Russian’s fault. He can only beat what’s in front of him, which happens to be Bobby Green.
I think it’s all dependant on how Islam wins. If he’s able to put Bobby away as efficiently as he did Hooker, then there’s no reason why he shouldn’t be next in line for the lightweight title after Justin Gaethje. The fact that many fighters rejected the fight elucidates how much of a threat Islam is to the division which could also solidify his position as the future no.1 contender.
Unless, Gaethje and Oliveira have a classic that needs an instant rematch, I’d expect UFC President, Dana White to place Islam at the front of the pack if he wins on Saturday.
However, what happens if Bobby Green pulls off the upset of all upsets. Surely that makes him next in line for the title shot just like Islam would’ve been? In MMA anything can happen, so if Bobby Green pulls off an incredible feat, I think he shoots himself right to the top end of the rankings and places himself with a very valid argument of getting a shot at the title.
The result of Saturday’s action will unravel a lot of uncertainty and I can’t wait to see what happens!