CAPE TOWN – Former undefeated UFC Lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov believes that Islam Makhachev can beat both (No 1 ranked UFC Lightweight) Dustin Poirier and current Ultimate Fighting Championship Lightweight king, Charles Oliveira.
During an exclusive with ESPNMMA’s Brett Okamoto, one of the world’s most elite mixed martial artists - who retired after his last title defence against Justin Gaethje at UFC 254 last year, said that his training partner, Islam is bound to become the next UFC Lightweight champion.
Just last week at UFC264, Dustin (28-6 NC-1) walked away with a TKO Doctor’s stoppage in his third fight with global icon and former two-division UFC champion, Conor McGregor (22-6) while Charles (31-8) won the UFC Lightweight title after beating Michael Chandler (22-6) earlier this year.
“I truly believe he (Islam) can finish Dustin Poirier, maybe Dustin is going to be upset, but I truly believe he can finish Dustin. He can maul Charles Oliveira. I don’t think Charles can play with him with his Jiu Jitsu guard,” said Russia’s Khabib (29-0) who is Islam’s training partner and co-coach.
“We just need time and no accidents. Islam is a complete MMA fighter and he can beat all these guys," said Khabib to Brett.
The number nine ranked Russian and the 14th ranked UFC Lightweight, Brazil’s Thiago Moises will headline tomorrow morning’s (SAST) UFC Fight Night at the UFC Apex centre in Las Vegas, USA.
Islam (19-1) is currently riding the second-longest win streak amongst active lightweights in the UFC, having won his previous seven bouts. The Russian was trained by Khabib’s father, Abdulmanap - who sadly passed away last year.undefined
Having won 10 of his last 13 bouts, and currently on a three-win streak, Thiago (15-4) will be looking for his second win of the year. He is known for his resilience and perseverance - last year he secured the fifth largest statistical comeback in lightweight history as he submitted Michael Johnson (19-17).
“Islam is the number nine ranked UFC Lightweight right now, next year I think Islam should fight for the title,” says Khabib.
“I don’t want to underestimate Thiago Moses. It’s not easy to finish Thiago. This Saturday Islam has to prove himself and show the world who Islam Makhachev is. Not only like ‘Khabib’s sparring partner’, or ‘Khabib’s brother’, no. He has to prove himself on his own as Islam Makhachev. The best in the world, seven-fight win streak. Islam is very good right now. In October he is going to become 30 years-old. This is the perfect time to show the world who is the best. I think at this age you’re mentally and physically in your prime. Everything comes together on the same level (30, 31, 32).
“He is ahead of all these guys in every aspect. He beat everyone. This Saturday he is going to show it, Insha Allah.”
The card will be co-mained by the return of former bantamweight champion, and fan-favourite, Miesha Tate (18-7) who takes on Marion Reneau (9-7-1). This will be Miesha’s first fight since 2016 after taking a break from the fighting.
The event will be available from 2am tomorrow morning (SAST) on SuperSport (Action, Grandstand and Variety 3) with the main card starting at 4am on the same channels. If those times are too early for you, you can catch the repeats and highlights later in the morning at around 8:55am running through to 11am.
OTHER FIGHTS ON THE CARD INCLUDE
Jeremy Stephens (28-18, 1 NC, fighting out of San Diego, Calif.) locks horns with Mateusz Gamrot (18-1, 1 NC, fighting out of Lubon, Poland) in a lightweight bout guaranteed to deliver action
Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu phenom Rodolfo Vieira (7-1, fighting out of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil) takes on fellow grappling specialist Dustin Stoltzfus (13-2, fighting out of Germersheim, Germany) at middleweight
Welterweight Daniel Rodriguez (14-2, fighting out of San Gabriel, Calif.) looks to spoil the UFC debut of newcomer Preston Parsons (9-2, fighting out of Jacksonville Beach, Fla.) who replaces Abubakar Nurmagomedov on short notice
An exciting featherweight bout sees Gabriel Benitez (22-9, fighting out of Tijuana, Mexico) face off with The Ultimate Fighter and Dana White's Contender Series alum Billy Quarantillo (15-3, fighting out of Tampa, Fla.)
No. 14 ranked women's strawweight Amanda Lemos (9-1-1, fighting out of Para, Brazil) aims to defend her spot in the rankings against Montserrat Conejo (10-1, fighting out of Leon, Guanajuato, Mexico)
Khalid Taha (13-3, 1 NC, fighting out of Nordrhein-Westfalen, Germany) intends to stop Sergey Morozov (16-4, fighting out of Aktau, Kazakhstan) from earning his first UFC victory in a bantamweight bout
Dana White's Contender Series signee Miles Johns (11-1, fighting out of Dallas, Texas) looks to make it two finishes in a row when he takes on Anderson dos Santos (21-8, fighting out of Sao Paulo, Brazil) at bantamweight
Francisco Figueiredo (12-3-1, 1 NC, fighting out of Condor, Para, Brazil) has his sights set on continuing to build his own legacy at flyweight when he battles Malcolm Gordon (12-5, fighting out of Scarborough, Ontario, Canada)
Alan Baudot (8-2, fighting out of Paris, France) seeks to secure his first emphatic UFC finish against Dana White's Contender Series veteran Rodrigo Nascimento (8-1, fighting out of Belo Horizonte, Brazil)