Islam Makhachev looks to face the winner of Charles Oliveira and Justin Gaethje | Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC
Khabib Nurmagomedov thinks Dana White wants Islam Makhachev to fight for UFC lightweight title in 2022
UFC president Dana White was not on hand for the UFC Vegas 49 post-fight press conference. With White absent, the MMA media did not get to ask him if Islam Makhachev is in line for a shot at the UFC lightweight title. However, Makhachev’s coach and training partner, former UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov, had already covered that line of questioning prior to Saturday’s event.
Nurmagomedov, speaking to the UFC’s Megan Olivi, said that during a pre-event sitdown with White, he asked the UFC president what was next for Makhachev after UFC Vegas 49. Nurmagomedov said that he did not mean his question to imply that Makhachev’s team was looking past Bobby Green, who Makhachev faced in Saturday’s main event, but that the two fighters were not on the same level.
According to the former champ, he got an answer from White, and that answer was positive for both Makhachev and fight fans in and around Abu Dhabi.
“(Dana) say he’s really focused on Islam fighting versus winner of (UFC lightweight champion) Charles (Oliveira) and Justin Gaethje end of this year,” said Nurmagomedov. “Dana say they gonna make very big show in Abu Dhabi at end of this year. And I think there is this place where Islam is going compete and fight for the title.”
Oliveira is scheduled to face former interim champion Gaethje at UFC 274 on May 7. It sounds as if the winner of that fight, barring injury, will be matched up against Makhachev before the calendar turns to 2023.
Makhachev scored a first-round TKO win over Green at UFC Vegas 49. Green was a late replacement for the injured Beneil Dariush, who had to withdraw from the bout because of a broken fibula.
UFC Vegas 49 took place at UFC Apex in Las Vegas. The event streamed in its entirety on ESPN+.