Islam Makhachev believes he will be fighting Charles Oliveira next time out.
Oliveira is set to defend his lightweight title on May 7 at UFC 274 against Justin Gaethje. It’s an intriguing matchup and after Makhachev TKO’d Bobby Green at UFC Vegas 49, the Dagestani native believes his next fight will be for the belt.
“For stepping in [as a potential replacement] we have some guys like [Rafael] dos Anjos or Michael Chandler but I am deserving [of a title shot],” Makhachev said at the UFC Vegas 49 post-fight press conference. “I have a 10-fight win streak. I deserve it. The last 11 months, I’m training so hard. Like next week, I’m ready for fight on the next pay-per-view show but I deserve [a little bit of time]. I want to fight in Abu Dhabi. Because just now, I have many of my friends who stay outside because they cannot come to the [UFC] Apex. I want to fight in Abu Dhabi when all my fans can come and support me inside.”
With Makhachev thinking he will get the title fight next, he says he will be paying close attention to Oliveira-Gaethje. Although to many it is a close fight, Islam Makhachev believes Oliveira finishes Gaethje.
“I think it’s going to be a good fight because both guys are high level,” Makhachev said. “Now Charles improved his striking game very well. He has more than Justin in the ground game. I think they’re going to strike a little bit and Charles is going to take him down, take his back and finish him there, like, third round or second round. I think this my opinion.”
Should Islam Makhachev face Charles Oliveira next he is excited about the challenge. He knows the Brazilian is a very talented grappler but he is confident in his own skill set that he will frustrate the champ on the ground.
“I think it’s going to be a good match,” Makhachev said. “Because this guy is good in striking, wrestling and grappling but I’m going to make him tired, pressure him and make him give up. Because I know this guy, he don’t like when somebody go with him for like three or four rounds, give him hard punch, a hard time and when he tries to finish someone, like give them some choke, but when he cannot do this he gives up all the time.”
“I have grappling skills more than him because I’m grappling with all high-level grapplers around the world. A lot of grapplers come to [American Kickboxing Academy] and I like grappling. This guy, he’s going to try to finish me on the ground but it’s going to be so hard for him.”