The American Kickboxing Academy coach doesn’t understand how Makhachev (23-1 MMA, 12-1 UFC) got the No. 2 ranking on the UFC’s official pound-for-pound list after his submission win over Charles Oliveira in the main event of last month’s UFC 280.
Yes, Makhachev is now champion, but he has yet to put to defend the title and there are worthy contenders waiting to fight him. That’s why Mendez believes the UFC rushed in giving their lightweight champion that high of a spot on the pound-for-pound list.
“Look, you know this just as much as I do, Islam went to No. 2 spot pound-for-pound in the UFC in just one fight? How?,” Mendez told MMA Junkie in Spanish. “I know he’s good, and I believe he’s No. 1. I do believe that. But to give him that spot of No. 2 pound-for-pound in just one fight, no. I know in my heart with time he’ll be No. 1. Simple as that. He’s going to be No. 1. But they gave him this just because of one fight.
“No, I don’t like that. It was done too quickly.”
Makhachev only has one professional defeat and is currently on an 11-fight winning streak. Although he’s got plenty of work in the octagon, he still has several top contenders he has yet to fight.
Makhachev is scheduled to fight UFC featherweight title holder Alexander Volkanovski in a champion vs. champion superfight in the main event of UFC 284 on Feb. 11 in Perth, Australia. On top of that, streaking contender Beneil Dariush is anxiously awaiting his shot at the belt.
Mendez feels those two names alone could get the job done for Makhachev in terms of being the No. 1 pound-for-pound fighter.
“He’s the man, but he needs to do more,” Mendez said. “That’s what I believe. He needs to beat Volkanovski, then Dariush. He needs to beat those guys, so you can say he’s No. 1.
“Look at what Volkanovski is doing. He mopped the floor with all the challengers that are in his weight class. Everyone. He cleared them all out. Islam needs to clear everyone out. Again, I feel he’s No. 1, but in order to get that you need to finish everyone, that’s how it works. That’s how I think.”