It’s been a long time coming but Islam Makhachev finally proved that he is the best lightweight in the world.
In his first opportunity to capture gold, Makhachev was dominant in every facet of the game after he landed a knockdown against Charles Oliveira before wrapping up a nasty arm-triangle choke to finish the UFC 280 main event in impressive fashion. The tap from Oliveira came at 3:16 in round 2 as Makhachev began his celebration with a big hug from his coach and longtime teammate Khabib Nurmagomedov.
” I worked so hard to get this moment,” Makhachev stated afterwards. I want to thank you. This is going to be a tough fight. Although he pushes his opponents, I am sure he will be intimidated by my wrestling abilities. I said this is my goal and Allah give me.
“My belt for my coach for Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov. You’ll be a champion if you train hard, he said. [Khabib’s] My father .”
It was an amazing performance by Makhachev who engaged Oliveira on both the feet as well as the ground during the fight.
The first exchange to open the fight saw Makhachev catch Oliveira with a stiff left hand before the Brazilian actually grabbed onto the guard and brought the fight down to the ground. Oliveira attacked quickly with submissions, while Makhachev held on to his top control.
Makhachev was careful to stay close to Oliveira to negate the always active legs from the jiu-jitsu specialist as he looked to swivel his hips to possibly look for an armbar or a triangle choke. Oliveira couldn’t find an opening while Makhachev continued to punish him on the ground.
When the fight came back down to the feet Makhachev quickly closed the gap, but he seemed completely at ease trading shots with Oliveira. In an attempt to change his fortune, Oliveira exploded forward with a jumping knee but Makhachev answered with a huge hook that send the former champion crashing down to the canvas.
As soon as Oliveira hit the ground, Makhachev jumped on him and immediately started looking for the finish. Makhachev latched onto the arm-triangle choke and it only took Oliveira a split second to tap out as the all-time leader in UFC submissions succumbed to the Russian wrestler.
“Sometimes you’re here and it’s not your day,” Oliveira said after his first loss in 12 fights. “Hey Dana [White], hey Hunter [Campbell], I’ve never denied a fight. I’ve always been there for you. You can give me a fight; I want to become the next guy .”
Following his title fight victory, Makhachev actually put the title on Nurmagomedov’s shoulder and the former lightweight king already had an idea in mind for what comes next.
“He is the pound-for-pound No. 1 fighter today,” Nurmagomedov said about Makhachev. “Now our plan, fly all the way to Australia to fight with pound-for-pound king [Alexander] Volkanovski.”
Volkanovski was quick to get into the cage and shared some time with Makhachev. This seemed like a simple matchmaking session for UFC 284 in Perth, Australia.
“Let’s get it done,” Volkanovski stated in the cage. “The lightweight title on the line, the pound-for-pound No. 1 on the line.”