I recently ran a poll on my YouTube community page asking if you thought Justin Gaethje or Islam Makhachev should be considered the true, #1 contender for the UFC lightweight Championship belt after Dustin Poirier vs Charles Oliveira at UFC 269.
The main argument from Islam's #1 cheerleader, former UFC Champ Khabib Nurmagomedov has merit. Makhachev's won his last nine fights and ran through Dan Hooker at UFC 267 with a first round submission. It also doesn't hurt to have Daniel Cormier making a public case for his former teammate (although he later changed his mind after Justin Gaethje beat Michael Chandler at UFC 268).
Justin Gaethje made it known he's ready to riot if he's not selected to face the winner of Charles Oliveira vs Dustin Poirier. It's hard to argue Gaethje's not among the very best lightweights in the UFC with his performance at UFC 268. He even managed to change DC's opinion that Gaethje is the right contender to the UFC lightweight strap.
A nine fight win streak in the UFC is impressive in any weight class but Islam suffers with name recognition. Not only with his own name, but also with the fighters he's faced in the Octagon. In my opinion, he hasn't beat the names that count. The fastest way to have hardcore fans push your name to the top of the list is to beat the right guys in impression fashion. Dan Hooker was a start, but Makhachev still needs to do more.
It turns out the majority of you agree with me. 78% of 145,000 votes to be exact. Keep in mind, this is the opinion of 145,000 hardcore fans. And fan opinion drives this business more than any other single factor.
Let me offer you another alternative. Let's settle this the old fashioned way...have Justin Gaethje fight Islam Makhachev.