Islam Makhachev has been hyped up for quite some time due to his relationship with Khabib Nurmagomedov and Daniel Cormier. Yet, he has backed it up and now has a chance to cement himself as a legit lightweight contender.
In the main event of UFC Vegas 31 on Saturday, Makhachev will face 14th ranked Thiago Moises in an intriguing matchup. For the Dagestani native, he says he’s eager to headline his first UFC card and have the chance to go five rounds.
“I’m excited because this is my first main event,” Makhachev told MMA Junkie. “Five rounds, this is good before they give me a title fight because I have to fight sometimes five rounds. I have to feel five rounds and I have to change my schedule for five rounds.”
Although Makhachev’s game plan is to finish Moises, he says he has no problem going five rounds. He knows he has the cardio to hold his pace and pressure for the entire time.
“It doesn’t matter because I’m always training hard, doesn’t matter how many rounds,” Makhachev explained. “That’s why when they called me with the main event and asked if I wanted to fight five rounds, I said of course. I’m always training hard that’s why it doesn’t matter five rounds.”
If Makhachev does end up getting the stoppage win over Moises, he will likely face a highly ranked opponent next time out. Many have called for him to fight a top-five guy and for Makhachev he says he likes the idea of facing Rafael dos Anjos or Tony Ferguson next time out.
“I think it’s going to be some guy from top 5, I don’t know,” Makhachev said. “I can think of a couple of guys, maybe RDA (Rafael Dos Anjos) or Tony (Ferguson). I was supposed to fight RDA in Abu Dhabi. He got corona and they canceled the fight and then I came to Vegas and I had an infection. We were supposed to fight, but maybe it’s next, I don’t know.”