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‘You have to prove yourself’: Khabib tells Islam Makhachev that it is time to fulfil his potential in debut UFC main event

‘You have to prove yourself’: Khabib tells Islam Makhachev that it is time to fulfil his potential in debut UFC main event
Islam Makhachev, the heir apparent to Khabib Nurmagomedov's throne in the UFC lightweight division, must show why he is so highly-regarded when he faces Thiago Moises this weekend in his first ever UFC main event fight.

The 19-1 Makhachev has been near flawless in his mixed martial arts career to date, with a lone flash knockout defeat to Adriano Martins the sole black mark on his resume in what was just his second UFC fight. 

Since then, though, Makhachev has won seven straight fights to announce himself as a serious contender in a UFC lightweight division currently ruled by Brazilian submission ace Charles Oliveira.

In order to make that big step from pretender to contender, his friend and training partner Nurmagomedov says that this weekend's UFC headliner against Moises must show exactly why he is considered to by many to be a future title contender.

The great trainer Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov, who passed away due to complications related to Covid-19 a year ago, famously had a plan for his son which was to retire from the UFC as an undefeated champion with a record of 30-0 – but Khabib's decision to step away following a title defence against Justin Gaethje last year with a record of 29-0 left that propechy unfulfilled.

There was another angle to it: Abdulmanap also wanted Makhachev to succeed his son Khabib as UFC titleholder.

"He told me, 'When you gonna finish, Islam will have to come,'" Khabib told ESPN of his father's wishes. "'You finish, Islam have to come at the same time, because there are three years between you guys.

"I told Islam, 'You a little bit late, brother. You're only top 10. You're supposed to be top three.' This guy is late."

Save for that sole defeat to Martins back in 2015, Makhachev couldn't have done much more. In his last fight in March, the Dagestan native outworked the tough Drew Dober before finishing the American with a third-round arm triangle choke.

Also on rt.com Ready to rise: Islam Makhachev deserves top-five UFC shot as he steps out of Khabib Nurmagomedov’s shadow

It was the type of performance that would have made the rest of the 155lbs contenders sit up and take notice – but Nurmagomedov says that Makhachev's work remains incomplete and it is time to show this weekend exactly why both he and Abdulmanap considered him to be the future of the UFC's light fold.

"This Saturday, you have to prove yourself," Nurmagomedov said. "Show the world who is Islam Makhachev.

"Not only Khabib's brother. No. He has to be his own. Islam Makhachev. Best in the world. Eight-fight win streak. He beat everyone.

"This guy has to fight for the title not because he is my brother or friend or something like this. [Because] he is very good."

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