At UFC 280, Islam Makhachev proved to the doubters what he’s been saying all along.
The Dagestani destroyer entered the biggest fight of his career against by far his toughest opponent, Charles Oliveira. Never once did Makhachev buckle under the pressure. Instead, he rose above and delivered a jaw-dropping second-round submission over ‘Do Bronx’ to capture the UFC lightweight championship. The electrifying crowd at Etihad Arena in Abu Dhabi was elated to bear witness to the rise of a new lightweight king.
Joining Megan Olivi backstage to discuss his win, Islam Makhachev showed up cool as a cucumber with no UFC championship wrapped around his waist or draped over his shoulder. Asked how he’s feeling following his world title win, Makhachev said:
“I cannot believe [it] because that moment’s on my shoulder too much right now. I don’t know.”
Talking about his opponent, Makhachev knew he was stepping into a fight with a world-class jiu-jitsu specialist, but was more than confident in his own skills stepping into the Octagon on Saturday.
“I know this guy have good jiu-jitsu, but I always told everybody I don’t care about it because I know my skills. Nobody around the world can make me trouble on the ground. I know my skills and I know I can beat everybody.”
With the lightweight title now firmly in his grasp, Islam Makhachev will be tasked with taking on the No. 1 ranked pound-for-pound fighter in the world, Alexander Volkanovski. The two are slated to square off in early 2023 when the promotion heads to Volkanovski’s home country, Australia.
“This guy’s so small. I’m gonna stop this guy. Like what I did a couple minutes ago, I can do same thing. Take him down and finishing there because I know this guy’s so small. He’s not on my level. I respect him. He’s a great champion, but I am different level. Because when I step inside the cage, everybody understands.
‘It’s a new goal. A new target for me. I’m gonna be pound-for-pound number one.”
Dana White Was Thrilled by Islam Makhachev’s UFC 280 Performance
UFC President Dana White had nothing, but positive things to say about Islam Makhachev’s stellar performance in the UFC 280 main event on Saturday. Speaking at the post-fight presser, White revealed the words that UFC Hall of Famer Khabib Nurmagomedov told him following Makhachev’s epic world title win.
“I’ve been saying all week, you’ve got two of the absolute best in the world in their prime facing off. When I went into the Octagon after, Khabib said, ‘I told you. I told you he’s the best in the world.’ To beat Oliveira is one thing. To beat him the way he beat him is another and as fast as he did it. He looked incredible tonight.
“The big question going into tonight was, how is [Makhachev] going to deal with the pressure? He dealt with it just fine.”