It’s no secret that Khabib Nurmagomedov is backing teammate Islam Makhachev to defeat Charles Oliveira at UFC 280 next weekend to claim the undisputed UFC lightweight title, but “Eagle” may be predicting a bit much for his star successor.
Makhachev will put his 10-fight win streak on the line when he meets “Do Bronx” at UFC 280 on Oct. 22 from Abu Dhabi. It will be a meeting of the two best lightweight fighters in the world today and a big opportunity for Makhachev to prove he can dominate top competition. Remember, Makhachev may be undefeated in his last 10 trips to the cage, but he hasn’t beaten the best guys in the division along the way.
According to Khabib, Makhachev will be more skilled and better prepared than Oliveira when the two meet next weekend. Nurmagomedov does acknowledge the dangers that the former UFC lightweight champion presents, but he feels like Islam is on another level entirely.
“I think Islam is more skilled than Oliveira,” Nurmagomedov told UFC Russia (h/t MMA Junkie). “Secondly, his experience as an amateur fighter. Also, he’s at his peak. Islam is at his peak. Islam isn’t 23, 26 or 27. He’s 30. A week after the fight, he’ll be 31. It’s the best time for any athlete. It’s a time when your mental and physical state should be in synergy. Sometimes your mental state is high, but your physical state is going down.
“Or when you’re 27 and at your physical peak, but mentally you’re not there yet, because you’re just 27, not 31. And Islam is at his peak. I think Islam is better overall. Of course, there are some potential dangers that we’re working on where Islam needs to be careful. Other than that, Islam should roll over him.”
Despite his confidence in Makhachev to take care of business at UFC 280, Khabib isn’t willing to overlook Oliveira for just one second. After all, Oliveira is riding an 11-fight win streak and has beat some of the best in the division over the past two years, including Dustin Poirier, Justin Gaethje, and Michael Chandler.
“Islam will be fighting the No. 2 pound-for-pound fighter for the UFC title,” Nurmagomedov said. “That’s his life goal. Only a dumb person can think about what’s next. Islam has a target, a date, an opponent, a location... there’s no reason to get distracted.”
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