Islam Makhachev wants to silence all the doubters that think Charles Oliveira could give Khabib Nurmagomedov problems.
Oliveira won the UFC’s lightweight title last year with a KO over Michael Chandler and followed it up with a submission win over Dustin Poirier. He was then set to defend his belt against Justin Gaethje but he missed weight and even though he won by submission, the belt is now vacant. Now, he will be one-half of a vacant lightweight title fight and Makhachev believes he has to be the other one fighting for gold.
“We don’t have a champion,” Makhachev told ESPN. “Charles is a contender. That’s why it’s going to be for the title. I deserve it. I have a 10-fight win streak… “[Oliveira] said I don’t deserve this, but he’s asking about Nate Diaz and Conor [McGregor]. I think Charles is a No. 1 contender now. We don’t have a champion because he don’t make weight. He is not a professional.”
Given Charles Oliveira has dominated the lightweight division since Khabib Nurmagomedov retired, many have wondered how the Brazilian would fare against the former champ.
Yet, for Islam Makhachev, he says he will prove to everyone Nurmagomedov would’ve had his way with Oliveira by submitting him early in their fight.
“This is like an easy fight for Khabib,” Makhachev said. “Khabib had the most dominant grappling from top. He’s going to take him down, hold him there. Very easy. I honestly think this is a very easy fight for Khabib. Stylistically, all of [Oliveira’s] pressure is not going to work against Khabib because Khabib pressures all of his opponents.
“We don’t have to say Khabib is going to beat Charles. I’m going to beat Charles. And everybody is going to understand. Honestly, I believe I can finish this guy, and I really want to finish him in the grappling, in his area. I know I can do this.”
Cole Shelton covers MMA for BJPenn.com, MMANews, and MyMMANews.com while also being the lead MMA odds writer for Sports Betting Dime