Islam Makhachev is the BEST lightweight in the world and should be recognised and celebrated on the same level as Conor McGregor and Dustin Poirier.
That's according to former UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov, who told ESPN earlier this year that 'he will run the division' for years to come.
Praise has been heaped on Makhachev after he brushed aside Drew Dober inside three rounds to seal his place in the UFC rankings.
However, such high expectations have come at a terrible price, as head coach Javier Mendez admits he has struggled to find someone brave enough to take on the 5ft 10 in 155-pounder.
But while his skill as a fighter cannot be denied, it is widely accepted Makhachev cannot be considered an elite fighter until he wins top honours at a high level.
Fresh off his victory over Dober at UFC 259 in March, Makhachev (19-1) will return to action for the second time this year when he squares off against Thiago Moises (15-4) at UFC Fight Night 192 on July 17.
Sources close to the situation confirmed the news to GIVEMESPORT following an initial report from ESPN.
While it isn't the calibre of opponent he was originally hoping for, Makhachev would be wise not to look too far ahead as the unranked Moises is undefeated in his previous three fights.
Makhachev himself is currently riding a seven-fight winning streak, including wins over Nik Lentz, Davi Ramos and Arman Tsarukyan.
And former two-division champion Daniel Cormier believes it won't be too long before Makhachev is replicating Nurmagomedov's recent success inside the cage.
"For 10 straight years, we've had title fights out of AKA," Daniel Cormier said to ESPN. "How do we continue that? Islam is the guy.
"We all believe right now Islam is our next best chance to have someone great."
"You knew as long as Khabib was the champion, Islam was going to take a slower approach to moving up the rankings," he added. "But now, Khabib and I talked about it, everybody believes that Islam can be the man.
"Now, with Khabib [retired], I believe now [Islam] starts to make his ascent."
He continued: "Straight wrestling, among all of those guys, Islam is the best one.
"In straight wrestling, I think he would beat Khabib."
Meanwhile, Nurmagomedov is confident Makhachev will finally silence the critics, claiming the Dagestani wrestler has been constantly overlooked despite his body of work so far in his career.
"Now, everybody talks about Dustin, Conor, Chandler, Justin, Oliveira," Nurmagomedov said. "But by the end of the year, it's gonna be changed.
"I don't think anyone can beat [Makhachev] right now. He will run [the division]."News Now - Sport News