Makhachev (22-1 MMA, 11-1 UFC) extended his winning streak to 10 consecutive fights on Saturday when he earned a first-round TKO of late replacement Green (29-13-1 MMA, 10-8-1 UFC) at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas. He was originally scheduled to fight Beneil Dariush in a surefire title eliminator at 155 pounds, but when the fight changed, so did the stakes.
For Makhachev, though, he thinks he’s still the rightful next challenger. Champion Charles Oliveira puts his title on the line against Justin Gaethje at UFC 274 on May 7, and Makhachev thinks he should be the next man up.
“I told you guys a couple days ago, this guy is not my level and I’m going to show you my level,” Makhachev told MMA Junkie and other reporters at the UFC Fight Night 202 post-fight news conference. “11 months, I finish four guys and I deserve (the shot).”
Makhachev knows championship-level bouts can be unpredictable, but he said he already has a pretty good idea who will emerge UFC 274 with gold.
“I think it’s going to be a good fight because those guys are high level,” Makhachev said. “Charles improved his striking game and he have more (skills) than Justin in the ground game. I think they going to strike a little bit, then Charles is going to take him down, take his back and finish him there. Like third round or second round.”
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If Oliveira (32-8 MMA, 20-8 UFC) does retain against Gaethje (23-3 MMA, 6-3 UFC) at UFC 274, Makhachev said he’ll be ready for that historic clash. The hypothetical bout with put Oliveira’s 11-fight UFC winning streak against Makhachev’s 10-fight run in the octagon, and it would be something special on paper.
Makhachev thinks he has more to give than the champion, though, and predicts a grueling outing for Oliveira that would result in the loss of his belt.
“I think it’s going to be good match because this guy’s good in the striking and grappling and wrestling,” Makhachev said. “I’m going to make him tired, pressure him, and make him give up. Because this guy, I know like when somebody go with him three or four rounds and give him hard punch and hard time, and he can finish some people with choke. But when he do not do this, he give up all the time. But I have grappling skills more than him. He going to try to finish me on the ground, but it’s going to be so hard for him.”
As far as the timeline, Makhachev appears to be targeting the final quarter of the year. The UFC traditionally hosts an event in Abu Dhabi in September or October, and for Makhachev, that would be the perfect location for his first championship opportunity.
He said the circumstances have to be right, and that’s why he is not interested in serving as a backup for Oliveira vs. Gaethje.
“For step in, we have some guys like (Rafael) dos Anjos or Michael Chandler,” Makhachev said. “I’m deserving – I have 10-fight win streak in the last 11 months. I’ve been training so hard. Next week I’m ready for fight. Next pay-per-view show. But I deserve a little bit of notice. I want to fight in Abu Dhabi. I have many of my friends, my family, my friends who stay outside because they cannot come to Apex. I want to fight for the title in Abu Dhabi when all my fans can support me.”
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