Nurmagomedov recently spoke to Russian media about the upcoming Islam Makhachev and Rafael dos Anjos bout. In the scrum, “The Eagle” admitted that dos Anjos’ combat experience has him feeling eager for his colleague.
Yet, despite any anxiety the former lightweight great may be coping with, he is still more than confident that Makhachev has all the skills to claim victory. In fact, Nurmagomedov wants his star student to do what nobody else has done and finish dos Anjos on the ground.
“Well, look, he (Rafael dos Anjos) has fought me. He’s fought Kamaru (Usman), (Colby) Covington, Felder, and many more. He fought (Eddie) Alvarez as well. He has great experience. In these types of fights, the experience factor is like a unique weapon. The way I see that fight playing out – because I’ve fought Dos Anjos – well, I want Islam to take him down early, to give him that wrestler’s pressure.
“After that, I think he’ll be in control. It’d be great if Islam finished him on the ground. It’d be perfect. I don’t remember anyone doing that to him. He has got dominated but not finished. Myself, Kamaru, and Covington dominated him on the ground. But if Islam becomes the first fighter to finish RDA on the ground, it’ll be a massive statement.”
dos Anjos has only been finished in three of his thirteen losses. He was knocked out by Jeremy Stephens back at UFC 91 and suffered a similar fate at the hands of Eddie Alvarez to lose his title in 2016. And while no one has submitted or pounded him on the ground, dos Anjos did once tap because of a broken jaw—an injury sustained earlier in a bout where Clay Guida smothered him from top control back at UFC 117.
Islam Makhachev (20-1) has won eight of his twenty victories via submission. Yet, tapping dos Anjos will be no easy task. The Brazilian won gold in the Mundials in 2003 and earned his fourth-degree black belt in jiu-jitsu last year.
Do you think Islam Makhachev has the skills to finish Rafael dos Anjos on the ground?