Many times in UFC fights the two men or women stepping into the Octagon have a history together. Sometimes there is bad blood between them, sometimes they are former training partners or friends.
If there is bad blood then that can lead to trash-talking and animosity in the leadup to the fight. In the case of Charles Oliveira vs. Islam Makhachev, there appears to be some animosity, but the majority of the trash-talking so far has been between Oliveira and Khabib Nurmagomedov.
Makhachev is a student and teammate of Nurmagomedov. The former UFC lightweight champion has taken Makhachev under his wing and has been showing him how to be successful in MMA. Because of their close relationship and similar style, Makhachev has been called “The next Khabib” on several occasions. Leading up to today’s big fight, Oliveira was wondering just how much influence the teacher, Nurmagomedov has on the pupil, Makhachev.
“He’s a protégé of Khabib, and he buries that weight on his shoulders,” Oliveira said in an interview with ESPN. “I didn’t choose fights, I just got on with them, and this is what we’re going to do. It’s a different story.”
Oliveira Was Once Looking To Lure Khabib Nurmagomedov Out Of Retirement, But Not Anymore
For a while, it seemed that anyone calling out Makhachev was looking to make their way to Nurmagomedov. This was the plan for Rafael dos Anjos and it seems for Oliveira as well. Knowing that the fight for the title is quickly approaching, he has shifted his full attention to his opponent and is less worried about what the retired Nurmagomedov is going to do.
“Well, my fight is against Islam. Whenever he’s willing to get back and get on with it, I’m always ready,” he said. “Honestly, I don’t think he’s gonna be fighting again. Khabib is set, he’s ready, and he’s retired. It’s done, and I fully respect that decision.”
At the end of the day, Oliveira and Makhachev will be the ones locked into the Octagon today in Abu Dhabi. Their team and their cornermen will be left on the outside of the cage looking in. The better man on that night will be the winner and the new UFC lightweight champion.
Who do you think becomes the lightweight champion at UFC 280?