This weekend, UFC have scheduled a stellar-stacked card with big names all across the board.
Headlining is the middleweight champion Israel Adesanya, who daringly challenges the newly-crowned light-middleweight champion Jan Blachowisz.
We have Petr Yan also defending for the first time the bantamweight title against Aljamain Sterling.
And it is the double-champ Amanda Nunes defending her belts against Megan Anderson, doing what has never been done before; simultaneously defending two active belts.
UFC promotion this week has highlighted the globe trotting element of the card, which includes world-class fighters from all corners of the world: Nigeria, Mexico, Brazil, Poland, Russia, America, Australia and China.
The sweeping array of countries represented is testament to the promotion’s massive appeal for elite competitors.
With all the dizzying champion elements, we highlight here a marginally lesser fight happening this weekend that is highly anticipated, by me.
Islam Makhachev, ranked lightweight and teammate of the GOAT Khabib Nurmagomedov, fights this Saturday on a seven-fight win streak.
He has been out of competition for well over a year-and-a-half now, having had fights rescheduled and cancelled all through a torpid 2020.
A potentially career-changing fight with Rafael Dos Anjos fell through due to illness, but, as this Dagestani team knows very well by now, patience is the key to the championship.
Makhachev perseveres, and is probably looking to put in two fights this year before the month of Ramadan begins, when he will take a break from competition.
To watch somebody seek to move on up in an almost stiflingly competitive division is just incredibly exciting. Every single ranked fighter in the lightweight class is absolutely elite level.
However, Makhachev holds a not-so-hidden trump card, in that his main training partner is the division’s supreme champion, and foreseeable benchmark for all to surpass.
Just like Makhachev’s star teammate, the Dagestani displays a bewildering strength in his wrestling sequences that utterly submit opponents.
It is almost frightening to hear seasoned UFC analyst-commentators Dan Hardy or Jon Anik at a loss for words to describe Makhachev’s wrestling sequences and grappling.
One poignant moment was in his fifth-fight of his win streak against Arman Tsarukyan (16-2) when Dan Hardy says, “[Makhachev’s] hips may be heavyweight.”
This is in reference to the smothering control he has over opponents once the fight is on the ground.
Attributable to the mastery of Combat Sambo, a martial arts style pioneered by Soviets that bridges Mongolian and Turkic wrestling with Western wrestling and Japanese Judo.
The results are witnessed in the Octagon, and favoured styles like Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and Muay Thai pale in comparison when up against the Russians.
Almost hidden amongst the big-draw names this weekend, Islam Makhachev finally gets some Octagon time against Drew Dober.
There’s no telling how it will go, only the results will tell us whether to expect a callout by Mackachev can draw Brock Lesnar back into Mixed Martial Arts.