Islam Makhachev is back in the limelight this weekend with a main event slot at UFC Vegas 49. Initially, the Dagestani was due to meet Beneil Dariush on Saturday. However, Dariush was forced to withdraw with an injury. Instead, Makhachev will face late replacement Bobby Green.
Last time out Makhachev impressed with a first round submission over Dan Hooker. That victory pushed his record to 21-1 and has him knocking on the door of a title shot in the lightweight division.
Makhachev’s rise through the 155 lb rankings has been marshalled by his close friend and longtime training partner Khabib Nurmagomedov. ‘The Eagle’ has made it clear that he envisions his friend emulating his success in the Octagon and claiming the title he held and eventually vacated when he retired in 2020.
Nurmagomedov’s influence on Makhachev is plain to see inside the cage. However, it appears that Nurmagomedov has also been coaching Makhachev on what it takes to be a champion outside of the cage, too.
In a video uploaded to Nurmagomedov’s official YouTube channel we see Makhachev, who is appearing in his second ever UFC main event, growing tired and frustrated with a marathon media session.
Nurmagomedov has zero sympathy for him.
“I think this is like big preparation before fight for the title,” Nurmagomedov told the camera. “I think [Makhachev] little bit complain about too much media. Like coach Javier [Mendez] said, ‘If you don’t want [this attention], just lose. Nobody gonna come.’ very simple.”
Later, Nurmagomedov is even more blunt: “This is your job, brother. Who cares about you’re tired. Nobody cares. You have to do this.”
Makhachev has only one slip-up in his pro career; a shock KO loss to Adriano Martins in 2015. He’s won nine straight fights since then.
Following two canceled bouts with former UFC champion Rafael dos Anjos, Makhachev had a banner year in 2021. He scored three victories over that span. In addition to his kimura over Hooker, he also grabbed a rear naked choke on Thiago Moises and a triangle choke against Drew Dober.
The injury ravaged 11-fight UFC Vegas 49 card goes live from the UFC APEX on Saturday. Before Makhachev meets Green, Misha Cirkunov is due to face Wellington Turman in the co-main event. The card also includes Priscila Cachoeira vs. Ji Yeon Kim and Terrance McKinney vs. Fares Ziam.
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