Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC
“Islam is on a different level right now,” Nurmaogmedov told the UFC after Saturday’s event at UFC APEX in Las Vegas. “He needs someone high-level fighter, like with the same win streak.
“Like Charles Oliveira – they need to make this fight.”
Gaethje came up short in what ended up being Nurmagomedov’s retirement fight, which took place at UFC 254. He rebounded this past November with a “Fight of the Year” win over Michael Chandler at UFC 268.
Makhachev could serve as a backup fighter should one of the title combatants be unable to fight, and he welcomed the chance at the post-fight press conference. If Oliveira defends the belt, however, Nurmagomedov said all other options have been rendered moot.
“If Charles beats Justin Gaethje, it’s going to be an amazing fight,” he said of Oliveira vs. Makhachev.
Saturday’s win was Makhachev’s 10th straight and his fourth straight finish in the UFC. The 30-year-old Dagestan native is tied at No. 4 in the MMA Fighting Global Rankings, while Gaethje sits at No. 3 under No. 1 Oliveira.