UFC title challenger Makhachev ‘at his peak,’ Khabib warns
Russia’s Islam Makhachev is at his peak as a fighter and is better than UFC title rival Charles Oliveira in all areas, according to Khabib Nurmagomedov.
Makhachev and Oliveira are preparing to meet in the main event at UFC 280 in Abu Dhabi on October 22, where the vacant 155lbs title will be up for grabs.
Brazil’s Oliveira is attempting to recapture his status as lightweight ruler after being stripped of the title for weighing in heavy before his last bout against Justin Gaethje back in May.
Makhachev will be getting his first shot at UFC gold, and is aiming to follow in the footsteps of friend, teammate and trainer Khabib – who will be in his corner on fight night.
As the clock ticks down to the blockbuster in the UAE, former lightweight king Khabib gave his verdict on the man many describe as his protege.
“Islam is at his peak right now. He’s not 26, 27, or 23. He’s 30. A week after the fight he’ll be 31,” Khabib told UFC Russia in a YouTube video which followed Makhachev’s preparations for the biggest night of his career.
“It’s the best time for any athlete. It’s a time when your mental and physical state should be in synergy.
“Sometimes your mental state is high but your physical state is going down.
“Or when you’re 27 and at your physical peak, but not at your mental peak, because you’re 27 and not 31. Islam is peaking at the moment.
“I think Islam is better than [Oliveira] in all aspects. Of course, there are some potential dangers that we’re working on, where Islam needs to be careful.
“Other than that, Islam should roll over him,” added Khabib.
Khabib and his team have been accused by Oliveira of disrespect in the build-up to the fight, with the 32-year-old Brazilian claiming that their supposed arrogance “will kill them.”
“Pay attention – everything that you’ve said in the media is coming [your way]. So don’t complain later. That’s all I have to say,” Oliveira warned back in August.
Khabib, however, dismissed the notion that his comments were in some way disrespectful.
“That’s my personal opinion, some people might not like it, but I’m just giving my opinion,” the former champion told UFC Russia.
“People say it’s disrespect, but I see no disrespect here. On October 22, we just want to overcome him.”
Oliveira won the title which was vacated by Khabib by defeating Michael Chandler in May 2021.
‘Do Bronx’ went on to defend the crown with a pulsating victory over Dusting Poirier last December, before missing weight against Gaethje – even though he went on to win that fight with a first-round submission.
Overall, Oliveira is riding an 11-fight winning streak heading into his match with Makhachev on ‘Fight Island’.
Meanwhile, the Dagestani grappling phenom has compiled a 10-fight undefeated run of his own to earn his shot at the title, and Makhachev’s sole blemish in his 23-fight career is a TKO loss to Adriano Martins back in 2015.