Islam Makhachev’s next title defense is no longer a mystery.
The UFC lightweight champion will defend his belt versus former champ Charles Oliveira in a rematch in the main event of UFC 294 on Oct. 21 in Abu Dhabi, UFC president Dana White revealed Wednesday night.
ESPN has Makhachev ranked No. 2 in the world pound-for-pound and Oliveira at No. 6. The two fought last October at UFC 280 with Makhachev submitting Oliveira in the second round to win the then-vacant UFC lightweight title.
Makhachev (24-1) is coming off a unanimous-decision victory over featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski at UFC 284 back in February. The Dagestan native has won 12 consecutive fights, all in the UFC.
Makhachev, 31, is the longtime training partner and student of former longtime lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov.
Oliveira (34-9, 1 NC) beat Beneil Dariush via first-round TKO at UFC 289 last month to set up the rematch. The Brazilian-born fighter won the lightweight title in May 2021, defeating Michael Chandler. But he missed weight in May 2022 before a fight with Justin Gaethje and was stripped of the belt. Oliveira, 33, has the most finishes (20) and submission wins (16) in UFC history.
There had been speculation that Makhachev could face Volkanovski in an immediate rematch following Volkanovski’s dominant title defense against Yair Rodriguez at UFC 290 on July 8. But Oliveira had been the UFC’s top choice for this fight after running through Dariush last month.