Islam Makhachev will be headlining a UFC event for the very first time in his MMA career. The Dagestani is set to take on Thiag Moises on the 17th of July, in a card that also marks the return of Miesha Tate, after five years. The number 9 ranked Makhachev has not been defeated in almost 6 years, and has just one loss to his name.
In an interview with Brett Okamoto of ESPN, UFC Lightweight GOAT and Islam Makhachev’s coach, Khabib Nurmagomedov opened up on the impeccable talent that is, Makhachev. Khabib claimed that Makhachev had all the talent to ease past both Dustin Poirier and Charles Oliveira. ‘The Eagle’ also made a bold prediction that Makhachev would fight for the title next year.
“I think next year Islam will fight for the title” – Khabib Nurmagomedov on Islam Makhachev
“I think he’s a little bit ahead of all these lightweights. I truly believe he can finish Dustin Poirier. Maybe Dustin’s gonna be upset, but I truly believe he can finish Dustin Poirier. He can maul Charles Oliveira. I don’t think Charles can play with him like this, all jiu-jitsu guard. We just need time and no accidents.” [via MMA Fighting]
“I think next year Islam will fight for the title. I don’t want to underestimate Thiago Moises. I really believe Thiago Moises is much better than his last fight with Drew Dober. My opinion, as a fighter, he’s better than Drew Dober and he’s tougher than him. On the ground it’s not easy to finish Thiago Moises. But I think next year [Makhachev] will fight [for the title], and he can be champion for, minimum, two or three years.” [via MMA Fighting]
Makhachev is coming off a victory against Drew Dober at UFC 259. He submitted the American in the third round via. arm-triangle choke to bring up his seventh consecutive victory. The Russian was lauded for his performance and many felt that he wasn’t getting the respect he deserved.
The number 14 ranked lightweight Moises might be a tough nut to crack for the Russian. The 26-year old is coming off a unanimous decision victory over Alexander Hernandez in February this year. With 15 wins and 4 losses, the Brazilian has never been finished in his career as well.
Can Islam Makhachev keep rising and reach the apex as predicted by Khabib Nurmagomedov?