Makhachev put on another dominant performance against short-notice replacement Bobby Green at UFC Vegas 49. He was originally supposed to face Beneil Dariush before Dariush withdrew from the bout due to an injury.
Makhachev entered UFC Vegas 49 as the fourth-ranked lightweight contender in the UFC and is assumingly the next man in line for the title shot. UFC lightweight champion Charles Oliveira will face Justin Gaethje for his latest title defense later this year at UFC 274.
In an interview with ESPN’s Megan Olivi, Nurmagomedov spoke about his protege Makhachev and what’s next for him in the Octagon.
“A couple days ago, when we meet with Dana, we was talking about, ‘Hey, what’s next?’” Nurmagomedov said of Makhachev. “He’s like, ‘Hey, you have to fight with Bobby Green first. I’m like, ‘Dana, it’s not like—they’re not same level.’ Of course, we don’t underestimate him, but if Islam catch him, it’s finished, you know?
“And he (said) ‘I’m really focused on Islam fight winner of Charles [Oliveira] vs. Justin Gaethje, end of this year.’ Dana (said) they gonna make very big show in Abu Dhabi end of this year. And I think it is this place Islam gonna compete, fight for the title.”
Makhachev has been seen as the heir apparent to Nurmagomedov for years. He is on a 10-fight winning streak and has soared to the top of the lightweight division’s title picture.
Entering UFC Vegas 49, Makhachev had earned three-straight submission wins in 2021 over Thiago Moisés, Drew Dober, and Dan Hooker. A loss to Adriano Martins at UFC 192 is the lone blemish on his otherwise stellar record.
Makhachev, Nurmagomedov, and the other Dagestani fighters are seen as heroes in Abu Dhabi. If Makhachev earns a title shot on Fight Island, it would arguably make the biggest stage of his career that much bigger.
Do you think Islam Makhachev will earn the lightweight title in 2022?