‘I’m aiming to fight again May 28’ – UFC lightweight Makhachev
A long-time sparring partner of Khabib Nurmagomedov, Makhachev spoke to the media at the newly-opened Eagles MMA gym in Moscow, which is part of the Eagles MMA team project. The team is made up of some of Russia’s top MMA talents, and is headed by Khabib, whose fighting nickname is ‘The Eagle.’
Twenty-five-year-old Makhachkala native Makhachev says he is looking to return to the octagon as soon as possible, and shared his thoughts on the new state-of-the-art Moscow gym where he will now train.
RT: When are you looking to have your next UFC fight?
Islam Makhachev: I hope for May 28. I’ve been pressing my manager and matchmakers, asking for a fight on that date. That’s the last tournament before the holy month of Ramadan, when I can't fight and train properly. After Ramadan I'll need two more months to get ready. So I really want to fight before that.
RT: Any certainty on your opponent?
IM: I did call out Kevin Lee, I wanted to fight him. But he has a fight date set already. So I don’t really care who I’ll fight next. But I do want to face a fighter who’s rated higher so I can move up in the rankings.
RT: After your last fight you asked Dana White for a ‘money fight.’ What was that about?
IM: That was just a joke. Lately MMA has moved towards being a TV show. People picking opponents, asking for money. I was just referring to that.
RT: You’ve recently become a part of the Eagles MMA team, and now that team has its own gym in Moscow. How would you rate this gym compared to facilities in the States?
IM: Now we’ve got everything we need here. Maybe our gym is not as big as the AKA (American Kickboxing Academy) gym, where I trained in the US. But I think a fighter of any level can prepare well in our gym.
RT: Fighters normally go to train in the States. Now you have this gym, do you think people from other countries will come to train with you in Russia?
IM: Yes, why not? People are already coming to Dagestan to train with us – although we don’t have conditions of this level in Dagestan yet. Now, given that we have this gym, I think people will come and train with us. I myself used to go to the States a month or two before the fight to train there. Now I can just come from Dagestan to Moscow and train in the Eagles gym, then just go to the States two weeks before the fight for acclimatization and weight cut. Here we have more than enough sparring partners.
RT: Growing up, you probably had more humble conditions in the gyms you trained in back in Dagestan. Do you think tough conditions help to forge a fighter’s character?
IM: Yes, that’s true. Experience tells us so. Especially in Dagestan, where people train anywhere where there is a roof and a wrestling mat. But I’d still rather train in comfortable conditions.
RT: They say that Khabib Nurmagomedov, your sparring partner, took his first steps on the wrestling map. Was it the same for you?
IM: Not literally, but yes, I started doing sports from a very young age. Not just martial arts, I played soccer and some other sports as well.