Morning Report: Khabib Nurmagomedov expects Islam Makhachev to defend title 5-6 times: ‘Nobody can stay on top forever’


Khabib Nurmagomedov foresees some history awaiting his star pupil and current UFC lightweight champion Islam Makhachev.

Makhachev’s first title fight appearance went about as smoothly as it could have this past October. Facing UFC record holder for submissions and former divisional champion Charles Oliveira, Makhachev forced his rival to tap to a tight arm triangle choke in round two.

Awaiting Makhachev for his debut bout as the new lightweight kingpin will be the current featherweight titlist Alexander Volkanovski. The two will battle over pound-for-pound supremacy at UFC 284 on Feb. 11 in Perth, Australia and Nurmagomedov believes it will be the start of an epic, but not too lengthy, run at the top for Makhachev.

“I think he needs at least five,” Nurmagomedov told Red Corner MMA of Makhachev and title defenses. “Maybe six. That would be ideal. Six defenses, that’s six fights and three years. Then it’s possible that the sport leaves him because nobody can stay on top forever.

“The way the almighty created a man, he first becomes strong then weak. He’s young then he’s old. Knowing that, the goal is five-six defenses.”

Nurmagomedov currently holds the title defense record of three at lightweight tied with B.J. Penn and Frankie Edgar. Makhachev, 31, has been nearly flawless in his career with only a single loss in 24-career outings and minimal damage taken in the octagon. The expectation from many in the community is that it very well could be “the Makhachev era” for as long as he sees fit.

2022 has been a great year for Russian MMA fighters overall as Makhachev wasn’t the only lightweight champion to be crowned. Also under the tutelage of Nurmagomedov is his cousin Usman Nurmagomedov. The 16-0 Bellator star recently defeated Patricky “Pitbull” Freire at Bellator 288 to add another title to the country’s lineage.

According to “The Eagle,” dominating the 155-pound landscape across the board in MMA was always the plan of his late father Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov.

“My father always said this,” Nurmagomedov said. “We had the best lightweights in Russia for 15 years pro and amateur. In the last few years, we stepped on the world stage. First I won then Islam then Usman. Now they’ll defend their titles. They have some serious competition. We’ll hold on to these belts for five-six years.

“Watch my interview from 2013. I said that Russia would have a lot of belts in five-six years. At that moment, it didn’t seem real. We can have a champion in the morning. Petr [Yan] was a champion, Zabit [Magomedsharipov] was close, Askar Askarov was close, [Sergei] Pavlovich is close. Many guys already became champions and can become champions in the future. I think Russian MMA fighters will completely dominate in a couple years.”


Callout. Ilia Topuria: UFC protecting Paddy Pimblett from me

Robbery Review. Paddy Pimblett vs. Jared Gordon at UFC 282

Controversy. Mohegan commission to review Raufeon Stots vs. Danny Sabatello with judges, sanctions possible

Farewell. Mauricio Rua: UFC 283 clash with Ihor Potieria ‘definitely my last fight’

Takeaways. Paddy Pimblett pulls off the heist of the year, plus the rudderless light heavyweight division and more

Goals. Raul Rosas Jr. confident he can beat UFC champion Aljamain Sterling right now: ‘I can finish whoever has the belt’

Rankings. Should Magomed Ankalaev be the new No. 2 light heavyweight in the world?

Free Agency. BKFC making serious push to pursue Nate Diaz and Eddie Alvarez in free agency


The MMA Hour.

UFC Vegas 66 promo.

Free fight.

Satoshi’s finishes.


Damage (not Darren).

Likewise, Billiam.


Vettori smash.

Thug Nasty.




Daniel Marcos (13-0) vs. Saimon Oliveira (18-4); UFC 283, Jan. 21

Chris Gonzalez (7-2) vs. Max Rohskopf (5-1); Bellator 290, Feb. 4

Jornel Lugo (8-1) vs. Jaylon Bates (6-0); Bellator 290, Feb. 4

Erick Gonzalez (14-7) vs. Darrius Flowers (12-5-1); UFC Vegas 68, Feb. 25


Makhachev’s toughest test will arguably be his very first defense attempt. UFC 284 will tell us all we need to know about how long he reigns.

Thanks for reading!


Last Week’s Results:

Friday: 44% of 694 total votes answered “Magomed Ankalaev” when asked, “Who wins tomorrow?” Ankalaev fought to a split draw against Jan Blachowicz in the UFC 282 main event.

Thursday: 68% of 243 total votes answered “Raufeon Stots” when asked, “Who wins this weekend?” Stots defeated Danny Sabatello via split decision in the Bellator 289 main event.

Wednesday: 55% of 739 total votes answered “Yes” when asked, “Will T.J. Dillashaw fight again?”

Tuesday: 33% of 517 total votes answered “Lower than Top 20” when asked, “Where does Thompson vs. Holland rank as an all-time fight?”

Monday: 85% of 687 total votes answered “No” when asked, “Will Paddy Pimblett and Jake Paul ever spar?”

Today’s exit poll:

If you find something you’d like to see in the Morning Report, hit up @DrakeRiggs_ on Twitter and let him know about it. Also follow MMAFighting on Instagram and like us on Facebook.