This time, there was no controversy. So this should not be a controversial statement: As it stands today, Islam Makhachev is the best pound-for-pound male fighter on Earth.

Let us be clear about that.

He likely should’ve been anointed as such in February when he won a  over Alexander Volkanovski in a champ vs. champ fight quite literally marketed as a battle for pound-for-pound supremacy, but I’ll be the first with my hand up to admit I wasn’t totally sold. and although I had Makhachev atop my initial rankings ballot after UFC 284, I confess I eagerly sprinted back to the Volkanovski side once he made short work of in July.

That won’t happen again. Not after Volkanovski landed just four significant strikes before getting starched. (Repeat that over in your head. It’s an astonishing feat regardless of how long the featherweight king had to prepare.) Makhachev is now not only the holder of the UFC’s longest active win streak (13), but by handing Volk his first stoppage loss in more than a decade — and doing so with his striking, no less — he authored the kind of highlight that begins to separate him from the Khabib-sized shadow that forever looms over his career.

The biggest question now is how Volkanovski’s decisions these past weeks will impact the rest of his own run, and that was always the other side of this short-notice coin (and why I never bought into the narrative that Volk had “nothing to lose”). He was already the oldest champion in UFC history under 170 pounds. He is already defying logic and Father Time by remaining as dominant as he has. And hell, there’s a chance his historic reign continues and he rattles off another handful of title defenses from here. But at age 35, any result this drastic has the potential to slice off just enough from the odometer in a way that can be irreparable.

One final Makhachev point: After he assumed the throne at UFC 280, I wrote that no one should be surprised if he breaks the UFC’s all-time record for consecutive lightweight title defenses. He’s at two now. The record is three, held in a three-way tie between B.J. PennBenson Henderson, and Khabib Nurmagomedov. Makhachev’s next two challengers will likely be Charles Oliveira and Justin Gaethje in some order. If Makhachev is going to pull off what no lightweight in history has ever done before, we now know the roadmap.

As painful as Saturday may have been for Volk, it was also probably a best-case scenario for the health of two of the sport’s deepest weight classes.

I wholly believe Volkanovski when he says he would’ve bucked history and been an active champ-champ, but UFC 294 hopefully signals the end of multi-division hi-jinks atop featherweight and lightweight for the foreseeable future. Too much young talent is already clamoring for its shot. Makhachev’s win should ideally keep these lines chugging along, while a Volk upset would’ve likely delayed everything further for an inevitable trilogy match.

Justin Gaethje and his manager Ali Abdelaziz (who also happens to represent Makhachev) have tried to get the ball rolling on Makhachev vs. Gaethje next, but first give me the fight we were originally supposed to see on Saturday — give me the Oliveira rematch. “Do Bronx” earned his spot by demolishing Beneil Dariush. He also trucked Gaethje inside four minutes just last year. As long as a fighter’s injuries don’t turn into Dominick Cruz-esque multi-year sagas, I’m never in favor of one losing their place in line because of bad luck.