Islam Makhachev received one hell of a welcome party when he landed in Dagestan after winning the UFC lightweight title.
On Saturday night, the 31-year-old emerged from the shadow of Khabib Nurmagomedov to win the 155-pound belt by beating former champion Charles Oliveira in two rounds.
The main event of UFC 280 in Abu Dhabi was expected to be close and competitive, but was a total whiteout in Makhachev’s favor as he dominated ‘Do Bronx’ in all aspects of the fight before locking in an arm-triangle choke in the second round.
After his victory, the new champion dedicated the belt to the people who helped him reach the top, like Khabib’s future father. “I just want to say this, my belt is for Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov.
“Many years ago he told me to train hard and become a champion.
“I want to donate this belt… [Khabib] and his father, they made me.
Abdulmanap died in 2020 after a battle with Covid-19, his son battling once more before retiring from the sport and taking up a coaching role with the team.
After receiving the belt at UFC 280, Nurmagomedov used his moment to help Makhachev build hype for a title defense against featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski.
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‘The Eagle’ suggested Makhachev would travel to Australia for a fight with Volkanovski who entered the octagon and accepted the match after weighing in at 155 pounds ahead of UFC 280 just in case one of the fighters in the main event would not have served its purpose.
With a new title on his shoulder and another opponent to prepare for, Makhachev returned home to Makhachkala, Russia, where he was greeted by swarms of people upon his arrival.
“Salam Alaikum, everyone,” he said addressing the crowd.
“I would like to thank everyone who came here to greet me and support me.
“Later we will eat together, there we can talk and take pictures.”
After taking a week off to celebrate with his family at home, Makhachev will return to the United States to support Khabib’s cousin, Usman Nurmagomedov, who will face Patricky Pitbull for the Bellator lightweight title on November 18.