Khabib Nurmagomedov told Islam Nurmagomedov that once he walked away from MMA, the next focus should be on ensuring that Makhachev reached an equal high as a UFC champion before the death of Nurmagomedov’s father Abdulmanap last year due to complications associated with COVID. Nurmagomedov takes this promise seriously since his retirement in October 2020, and Nurmagomedov knows a pivotal junction awaiting Saturday as Makhachev approaches its 30th birthday and first UFC main meeting.
Makhachev (19-1) is currently No. 7 in the MMA Fighting Global Rankings, ranking lightweight. Originally from Dagestan, he is heading into the seven-round victory series on Saturday with Moises, captured by Drew Dober’s recent third-round submission. And now it’s time to run Makhachev to a UFC-lightweight strap in the eyes of Nurmagomedov, who also serves as one of Makhachev’s coaches – and now Nurmagomedow wants Makhachev to have chances against one of the top two fighters of the division.
“I told Islam, ‘You’re a little bit late, brother. You’re only top 10, top 9. At this time, you’re supposed to be in the top 3.’ But this guy’s late, but this Saturday he has to prove himself and show the world who is Islam Makhachev, not only Khabib’s sparring partner or Khabib’s brother. No, he has to be Islam Makhachev, the best in the world. Like, ‘Eight [fight] win streak. He beat everyone and this guy has to fight for the title.’ Not because he’s my brother or friend or something like this. And this Saturday he’s going to show it.”