The UFC Lightweight division will soon have a champion again.
UFC 280 is just four weeks away, and the main event between Charles Oliveira and Islam Makhachev will decide the future of the 155-pound division. Though he is technically without the title after a controversial weight miss, Oliveira’s status as the best Lightweight on the planet largely remains intact in the eyes of fight fans given his monumental 11-fight win streak over names like Dustin Poirier and Justin Gaethje.
Makhachev has been no less impressive. The Dagestani combatant has won ten fights in a row in extremely dominant fashion, including finishing his last four opponents. A major narrative ahead of the fight has been Makhachev’s status as Khabib Nurmagomedov’s heir apparent. The duo are longtime team mates, and there have been constant comparisons between their fighting styles and success.
Is Makhachev the next level up of Khabib? Charles Oliveira’s wrestling coach, Alireza Noei, actually does believe Makhachev is a superior to wrestler to “The Eagle.”
“Let’s begin with the wrestling of Dagestan, Russian wrestling, 80% of wrestling of Russia comes from there. The Japanese wrestling that is called judo is also, you can ask the Judokas, Dagestan has really good Judokas,” Noei told PVT (transcription via BloodyElbow). “World champions, Olympic champions, just like the wrestlers. Everyone from Dagestan knows wrestling. For example here in Brazil almost half of the people know wrestling but in Dagestan almost 100% know it, girls, women, men, everyone knows it. Even someone that doesn’t fight knows wrestling at least knows two or three wrestling coaches. Dagestan is a pool of wrestling.”
“Charles‘s adversary Islam Makhachev is very good at wrestling,” he added. “I think even better than Khabib which is another athlete from Dagestan. He is better, certainly, of course, because he is a wrestler Khabib isn’t. Khabib is a Sambo fighter Islam has also done Sambo but he is a wrestler first and then a Sambo fighter and then an MMA fighter.”
Despite Makhachev’s wrestling pedigree, Noei doesn’t expect it to be a problem for “Do Bronx.” He doesn’t expect Makhachev to be able to take him down, and if he does, Oliveira’s submission game is lying in wait.
“We are working in all techniques, but I really don’t think Islam will take him down,” told Sherdog. “In case he takes Charles down, it will not be so easy to stabilize [him] like other opponents he faced. Charles submitting [Makhachev] in the second round, or winning via decision,” Noei concluded.
We’ll find out next month.