UFC news: Islam Makhachev welcomes Khabib Nurmagomedov comparisons

Islam Makhachev Khabib Nurmagomedov

Islam Makhachev has no problem with people comparing him to former UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov

“If somebody says I’m almost the same as Khabib, I agree with this,” Makhachev said in the immediate aftermath of his victory over Thiago Moises. “I want to be like Khabib. He’s a great man, he’s a champion, he has a lot of money and he has everything, but he’s still a humble guy."

Makhachev, 29, has often been compared to Nurmagomedov having made his debut at UFC 187 in May 2015. Both Russians are strong, wrestling-based fighters. 

On Saturday night, Nurmagomedov was in Makhachev's corner as he easily brushed the Brazilian aside at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas. Makhachev scored three of his six takedown attempts and landed a significant amount of damage from top position to open up a healthy lead on the scorecards before eventually submitting Moises in the fourth round via a rear-naked choke. 

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Afterwards, Makhachev had strong praise for Nurmagomedov.

“He’s coming to U.S. without his family," Makhachev said after landing a career-high 148 strikes against Moises (18). "He stays here one, two months to help us. He doesn’t take money, nothing. He just comes and does the whole thing.

"We came to U.S. and he rent big house for team and a lot of cars for team and nobody pay.

"He pay for everything. I cannot explain Khabib. He does a lot of stuff, but not everyone knows this.”

Though Rafael dos Anjos and Dan Hooker are already being touted as potential opponents, Makhachev has other targets firmly in his sights before targeting a world title shot against Charles Oliveira. Specifically, Beneil Dariush and Tony Ferguson.  

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“If they were to give me a choice, let’s do it with Tony because we have good history with him,” Makhachev told reporters at the UFC post-fight press conference. “Khabib was supposed to fight with him like five, six times, let’s finish this.

"I’m going to finish this. I'm going to show people around the world that Tony is not Khabib-level.

"People don’t understand how Khabib pressures. I can’t explain to you guys, but I think you know everything.”

“Beneil is a really good fighter. If they give me Beneil, it’s going to be a good fight. He’s a nice guy, I know him a little bit, but he’s No. 3.

"He’s a big step for me too. He’s tough, more than all three guys that I called [out].”

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