This weekend at UFC 280, Makhachev is set for the biggest moment of his mixed martial arts career to date. The #4-ranked 155lber is slated to share the Octagon with former champion Charles Oliveira in Saturday’s main event, set for Abu Dhabi’s Etihad Arena.
If he’s to secure his place on the top step of the ladder and extend his win streak to 11, Makhachev will have to snap Oliveira’s own double-digit winning run, which includes victories over Michael Chandler, Dustin Poirier, and Justin Gaethje within the last 18 months.
According to Makhachev, a championship victory on October 22 is his destiny. No matter his skills and work ethic, the Dagestani believes his crowning is simply meant to be.
That destiny, however, certainly wasn’t chosen by his mother…
During a recent sit-down interview with UFC Russia, Makhachev looked ahead to his first title challenge on MMA’s biggest stage, as well as the journey that got him to where he is today — from first joining his school’s Taekwondo club to training in-between shifts as a security guard.
Despite long boasting combat ambitions, Makhachev has never been able to bring his mother onboard for his venture into the dangerous sport.
“My father always supported me. My mom always urged me to quit, even to this day,” Makhachev said. “After I won my first sambo tournament, she said, ‘What else is there. The sport is not in the Olympics. Wrap it up and do something else. This sport is so dangerous.'”
Nowadays, Makhachev’s mother’s objections see her reminding her boy of the finances he’s already accumulated in the UFC. The Dagestani lightweight also noted that his father shares similar worries, but in a more subtle manner.
“I still have those talks with her,” Makhachev stated. “Now, she’s like, ‘You have all the money you need. Find something else to do. I know you can succeed elsewhere.’ She doesn’t like this sport and she doesn’t watch the fights. (My father) watches and worries quietly. He never tells me what I need to do. He knows I’m not lazy, that I’m training.”
One man who has long backed Makhachev’s advancement inside the cage is Khabib Nurmagomedov, who ruled the 155-pound weight class in the UFC prior to his retirement in 2020.
Khabib’s decision to exit the sport came despite just securing his 29th win, which sat alongside a sparkling 0 on his unblemished record. Although he remained convincingly on top inside the Octagon, Khabib cited his mother’s wishes as the reasoning behind his decision to call it quits.
With that in mind, and with the views of Makhachev’s mother already clear, will the Russian 30-year-old follow in his mentor’s footsteps when it comes to retirement?
Makhachev: “As Long As I’m Doing Well, I’ll Be Fighting”
Further into his interview with the promotion, Makhachev was asked whether he’s looking to replicate Khabib’s career path — that is, to win the belt, make a few defenses, and then vacate through retirement.
But despite his mother’s protests, Makhachev remains committed to his career in the cage and has no plans on hanging up his gloves anytime soon.
While he did note that he won’t continue fighting through losses like a number of veterans, the 30-year-old Makhachkala native insinuated that he won’t exit the sport while he’s still “doing well.”
“No thoughts about number of defenses or how long I’ll be champion for. As long as I’m doing well, I’ll be fighting,” Makhachev said. “You’ll know when it’s time to go, you’ll find out during sparring. 60% of UFC fighters are staying there just for the money. They trash talk but aren’t showing results because their time has passed. They fight for money and are losing. They win one out of four but they don’t care. As long as I’m doing well, I’ll be fighting.”
With those remarks in mind, while Makhachev has followed a similar path to his friend and mentor with regard to his dominant rise inside the Octagon, he looks likely to be going down a different route when it comes to retirement.
Makhachev is seemingly looking for a long stint toward the top of the lightweight division, starting with a championship triumph at UFC 280 this Saturday.
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