On Saturday, Islam Makhachev submitted Charles Oliveira to claim the lightweight title at UFC 280. During his post-fight interview, Makhachev and coach Khabib Nurmagomedov called for a fight against Volkanovski at the upcoming UFC 284 event in Perth, Australia. Volkanovski happy obliged, and with that, the fight is seemingly set in stone.
That means the UFC featherweight title is unlikely to be defended for almost a year, if not longer. But Kattar, the No. 5-ranked contender according to the UFC, sees no issue with that.
“Shout out to the champ,” he told Ariel Helwani on The MMA Hour. “I respect what he’s doing. There’s no hate on this guy. That’s how a champion’s got to act – want to compete, out there testing themselves, want to be great, seeing how far he can push it. I’m rooting for him in that fight against Islam, and obviously he’s got his hands full.
“[Makhachev]’s a beast. But I just respect the mindset and the willingness to go out and do what you can to be great. I love to see it, and I’m just trying to climb that ladder one step closer to take on him or whoever is next in line for these title fight, and get my name in that discussion.”
Volkanovski is currently the No. 1 pound-for-pound fighter in the world and recently delivered the finest performance of his career, dominating former featherweight champion Max Holloway in their trilogy bout at UFC 276. Following that win, “The Great” openly courted a lightweight title shot, even serving as the backup fighter for the UFC 280 main event.
The backup move worked out for Volkanovski, who was brought into the cage after Makhachev’s win to set up a future fight. For Kattar, that shows just how far Volkanovski is willing to go to achieve his goals.
“That’s that mindset,” Kattar said. “It’s that mentality, the championship mentality. I respect it. I love it. It would be an honor to compete against him one day, but in the meantime, on the back end, it’s a lot of fun to watch him go out and dare to be great.”
Though the bout is far from official, UFC 284 is set to take place on Feb 12, at the RAC Arena. Volkanovski will have home field advantage, but that doesn’t seem to count for much in the public perception. Makhachev already opened as a -360 betting favorite over Volkanovski, implying a 78.3 percent win probability. And while that might be slim odds for Volkanovski to join the ranks of the champ-champs, Kattar for one thinks he has a shot, and will be cheering him on.
“Pound-for-pound f****** No. 1 in the world, you’ve got a fighting chance against anybody,” Kattar said. “Hell yeah. He’s got a chance against everybody. I’m rooting for the ‘45-pounder. That’s my weight class. I’m not hating. I respect it. I’m rooting for him, and I hope he gets the job done.”
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