Makhachev receives hero’s welcome in Dagestan following UFC title win (VIDEO)
Khabib Nurmagomedov’s pupil Islam Makhachev arrived home to a hero’s welcome in Dagestan on Wednesday after winning the lightweight championship at UFC 280.
Makhachev sealed his victory after submitting Charles Oliveira in the second round of the headline bout in Abu Dhabi, with Nurmagomedov in his corner.
As shown in a clip posted on Instagram, he was greeted by a throng of admirers upon his arrival home from the UAE.
With the golden UFC champion’s belt in tow over his shoulder, Makhachev addressed the masses by first saying “Salam Alaikum, everybody,” which means “Peace be upon you” to Muslims.
“I’d like to thank everybody who came here to greet and support me. Later, we will eat together. There, we can talk and take pictures,” he vowed.
The CEO of Nurmagomedov's Eagle FC promotion company, Rizvan Magomedov, also thanked the crowd for coming out to meet them and hinted at a meet-and-greet by saying, “Now let’s drive to the restaurant.”
The crowd then congratulated the latest champion from the wrestling hotbed of Dagestan, a Russian republic in the North Caucasus of Eastern Europe, as Makachev applauded them in return.
Social media replies to the clip called Makhachev a “humble guy” and a “true champion.” In February next year, he will look to repeat his triumphant homecoming when returning from UFC 284 on February 12 in Perth.
In Australia, Makhachev will defend his new belt for the first time and look to prevent featherweight ruler Alexander Volkanovski from becoming the fifth UFC two-weight champion in history.
Volkanovski was invited into the octagon following Makhachev’s win over Oliveira and shook hands with the Russian, as both men had expressed interest in making the fight happen.
“I have a new target. I have to be pound-for-pound number one, that’s why I have to go to Australia and beat this guy,” Makhachev said after the event.
Another interesting match-up for the Australian card touted in recent days has Aljamain Sterling defending his bantamweight crown against another ex-two-division ruler in Henry Cejudo.
“Aljamain Sterling versus Henry Cejudo in Perth, that’s what I'm hearing,” said reporter Ariel Helwani on the MMA Hour this week.
“I can tell you, that’s what they want. Henry is for real, Henry is serious,” Helwani added.