Khabib Nurmagomedov campaigns for his protege Islam Makhachev to secure a UFC title shot after ruthless run
Khabib Nurmagomedovbelieves his fighter Islam Makhachevdeserves a title shot in the UFC.
- Lightweight star Makhachev just dominated Bobby Green in the first round.
Makhachev finished American fighter Bobby Green in the first round of their catchweight main event at the UFC Fight Night show that took place Saturday inside the Apex, Las Vegas.
Makhachev was originally scheduled to fight Beneil Dariush in a title eliminator, however, Green stepped-in on 14 days' notice when Dariush had to withdraw because of injury.
Makhachev beat Green midway through the opening round after dominating him during a grappling exchange which led to significant ground-and-pound that promoted a referee's intervention.
"There's levels, always," said Nurmagomedov to ESPN following the victory last weekend. "There's fighters, champion, elite. I think Bobby Green is a fighter. But Islam is elite.
"This is what I feel when I train with him long time, 20 years we've spent together, how he's successful in amateur career and how he moved to professional."
Nurmagomedov pointed to Makhachev's 10-fight win streak that has now included scalps of Arman Tsarukyan, Drew Dober, and Dan Hooker.
Now ranked third, Makhachev is withing punching distance of the No.1 spot which Justin Gaethje currently owns. The American striker fights the champion Charles Oliveira in a title shot in the main event at UFC 274 on May 7.
Nurmagomedov wants the winner of that fight to defend the belt against Makhachev in Abu Dhabi, the United Arab Emirates, in October.
'I'm really focused on Islam fighting winner of Charles Oliveira and Justin Gaethje, end of this year," he said. "Make a very big show in Abu Dhabi. This place, Islam going to fight for the title."
Nurmagomedov still gets nervous when coaching fighters in elite events
Elsewhere in the interview, Nurmagomedov — who was named in Insider's "most dominant" list of athletes last year because of his impeccable, post-fight, coaching role so far — still gets nervous before his fighters compete.
"I was nervous little bit because this is fiht and anything can happen," he said.
"Bobby Green, so much experience and a good striker. I was a little bit nervous but not like before. I was talking with Coach Jav [Mendez] before the fight, and I said, 'Coach, I'm still nervous but I become better.'
"He said, 'It's okay. You need a couple more years and you'll become better.' This is all about experience."
Nurmagomedov then reiterated his desire to see Makhachev fight for the title he relinquished upon retiring from combat
He said: "Islam take this like a real champion. Like he say, 'Doesn't matter who is opponent the goal is going to stay the same. Same goal, different opponent.'
"We feel a little bit bad because he don't fight with Beneil Dariush. He have a big injury, come back win one fight and be next in line. Beneil going to be there, Islam there, Islam fight for the title end of this year.
"And if Beneil win, Islam win title, Islam going to defend his first title defense with Beneil. This is how I see division going to move."
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