Makhachev will thrive under pressure of UFC title fight – Khabib – RT Sport News

Russian UFC lightweight title contender Islam Makhachev will enjoy the pressure of the biggest fight of his career against Charles Oliveira in Abu Dhabi this weekend, according to mentor Khabib Nurmagomedov.

Makhachev is aiming to ascend the throne once held by Khabib as the UFC’s 155-pound ruler – but to do so he must overcome a formidable challenge from Oliveira.

The Brazilian is the UFC’s newest lightweight champion, having won the title vacated by retired Khabib and defending it once – only to be stripped of status after weighing heavy ahead of his final trip to the Octagon vs. Justin Gaethje in May.

This time around in Abu Dhabi, Oliveira and Makhachev have gained weight for their showdown, which means Saturday’s main event at the Etihad Arena is official.

Khabib will be in the corner of his fellow Dagestani, fulfilling his role as a mentor to Makhachev, 31.

“It’s the biggest fight of his life. I can tell how he feels. He feels the pressure, he’s nervous, he’s very excited. He feels his dream is about to come true,” Khabib told Red Corner MMA as he reflected on his own championship experience – which included title defenses against Dustin Poirier and Justin Gaethje in Abu Dhabi.

“The whole team is there to help him, push him, share our advice and give him knowledge and good energy, to take the belt and make one more story.”

Khabib said the crowd in the United Arab Emirates will be firmly behind Makhachev as he seeks to become Russia’s final UFC champion.

“I feel like coming home. Abu Dhabi is like my second home,” said the UFC Hall of Fame.

“I’ve fought here many times…it’s an amazing feeling when you come out of the cage, big crowd, 16,000-17,000 at the Etihad Arena. I know 3,000-4,000 people from Dagestan are already come here.

“I think Islam will feel like going out at home.”

Makhachev grew up under the tutelage of Khabib’s late father, Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov, with a bond forming between them and the other members of a tight-knit team.

Khabib said he knew Makhachev well enough to understand he wouldn’t back down under the pressure of the biggest night of his 23-fight career.

“Everyone is going to watch this fight. I know some people get their energy from the crowd, others get nervous,” Khabib said.

“I know Islam, Islam has energy. I stuck him his whole life, I know how he feels, and Islam loves pressure. When the pressure comes, his style is to shine.

Makhachev set up his title shot with a 10-game winning streak and has only been defeated once in his career – in 2015.

Oliveira, 33, is undefeated in 11 competitions in a run that has seen him emerge from a contender to a bonafide contender for one of the greatest fighters the UFC has ever seen.

“Do Bronx” has more experience than Makhachev, having fought 42 times professionally – winning 33 of those contests.

The Sao Paulo native also holds a number of UFC records, including most submission wins in promotion history.


When asked what his advice to Makhachev would be ahead of the fight, Khabib was short and simple.

“Be yourself. Don’t think about anything, just focus on your opponent. said the undefeated MMA icon.

“When the cage closes, you have to deal with Charles Oliveira. Not the people watching, just Charles Oliveira.

“Think about yourself, protect yourself. The most important thing is defense first, then attack.

“It will be an MMA fight, not a wrestling or grappling fight. Oliveira can wrestle, he can punch. This guy has a lot of experience, so many fights in the UFC.

“Of course we don’t underestimate this guy, we respect everything he’s done in the UFC.

“But we are a team, we are brothers and we believe in Islam.”


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