Khabib Nurmagomedov has heralded the skills of Brazilian submission ace Charles Oliveira
Undefeated UFC icon Khabib Nurmagomedov has warned his friend and training partner Islam Makhachev to take seriously the threats posed by Charles Oliveira ahead of their fight to crown a new lightweight champion in Abu Dhabi on October 22.
Oliveira, 32, is in the midst of an 11-fight win streak in the UFC’s shark tank lightweight division which has seen him tear through the likes of Tony Ferguson, Michael Chandler, Dustin Poirier and Justin Gaethje – the latter two arguably far more emphatically than Khabib was able to manage in his unbeaten run at the summit of the UFC’s 155lbs fold.
Makhachev, though, has been equally dominant in his 10-fight run of victories dating back to his last (and only) loss in the cage in 2015, but ahead of the world title fight between two fighters in their respective primes, Khabib says that his Russian colleague must be at his absolute best if he is to claim the vacant UFC lightweight title in less than two months’ time.
“Oliveira has been around for a long time,” said Khabib on his YouTube channel, after translation.
“When there’s someone on a good win streak in your weight division, you start seeing him as a potential opponent. Then you start thinking of what you need to do when you fight him.”
Oliveira is considering to be the finest submission fighter in mixed martial arts today – a statement backed up by the 21 such victories on his career ledger.
And Khabib says that Makhachev is aware of the scale of the task ahead of him in the UFC 280 main event.
“We studied him closely and we continue to study him. He’s got a very good guillotine [choke]. You have to watch out for that. His body is built for it.
“As far as his stand-up, really good knees, and kicks. Teeps [kicks] to the body and head. I wouldn’t say he’s strong, but he’s gained a lot of experience and confidence in the last few years.
“We’re definitely not looking past him, but we are confident we will get through him. We just need to be careful, and patient, and stick to the game plan.”
Oliveira, though, will come into the fight with something to prove. He was stripped of the UFC lightweight championship ahead of his scheduled title defence against Justin Gaethje in May after coming in a half-pound heavy at the official weigh-in.
However, he stated afterwards that this was the result of him testing his weight backstage at an incorrectly calibrated scale.
Either way, the showdown in the Middle East towards the end of October will pit the two most in-form 155lbs fighters on the planet against one another – and while Khabib is confident that Islam Makhachev will be the next UFC champ, he knows that this is a destination that won’t be easily travelled to.