Makhachev has experienced a rapid rise towards the top of the 155-pound rankings. Since suffering his only career loss at the hands of Adriano Martins in 2015, the Dagestani has built an impressive eight-fight win streak that includes victories over Nik Lentz, Gleison Tibau, Arman Tsarukyan, Davi Ramos, Drew Dober, and Thiago Moisés
The 30-year-old American Kickboxing Academy product secured his first UFC main event following his triumph over Dober earlier this year. In the UFC Vegas 31 headliner, he faced ranked lightweight Moisés. After a comfortable three rounds, Makhachev submitted the Brazilian in the fourth frame. Despite defeating the #14 man in the division while he was sat at #9, the Russian found himself inside the 155-pound top five following the next rankings update.
While many questioned the four-place rise up the lightweight ladder, especially considering Makhachev is yet to defeat a top-10 contender, the former combat sambo world champion’s manager believes a place in the upper echelons of his division still doesn’t do justice to the Dagestani’s abilities inside the Octagon.
Top-5 Pound For Pound?
Speaking during a recent interview with ESPN MMA’s Brett Okamoto, prominent personality Ali Abdelaziz gave his thoughts on his client’s title credentials. As well as stating that Makhachev is a future champion, the 43-year-old suggested the Russian is one of the top-five P4P best fighters in the UFC.
“Everybody don’t wanna talk about him. But I tell you today, I’m not talking about lightweight division, if you do the pound-for-pound rankings today, I will rank Islam [in] the pound-for-pound top five in the UFC; the whole UFC. The lightweight division know, the UFC know, the media know, but everybody will know very soon how good Islam is.
“I think right now, he’s a problem. If I was a fighter right now, I don’t wanna fight him, for what? You know, why am I gonna need to get half my check? He’s a problem for the division. I feel before all said and done, he’ll be a champion.”
Makhachev will have the chance to further prove his dominance in the cage when he returns to action in Abu Dhabi later this month. He was originally scheduled to clash with bitter rival Rafael dos Anjos at the UFC 267 event. However, due to injury, the former UFC Lightweight Champion was forced to withdraw.
On short notice, and just days removed from his victory over Nasrat Haqparast at UFC 266, Dan Hooker stepped in to replace the Brazilian. Whilst Makhachev’s friend and teammate Khabib Nurmagomedov doesn’t believe “The Hangman” has a chance, the New Zealander is confident in his ability to cause an upset come October 30, and says he won’t bring any short-notice excuses into the main card contest.
Do you think Islam Makhachev is among the top-five P4P best in the UFC?