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Khabib: ‘Real deal’ Islam Makhachev needs to call people out to get title shot

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For Khabib Nurmagomedov, Islam Makhachev needs to turn up the gamesmanship and shoot his shot for a title fight.

Khabib Nurmagomedov prepares Islam Makhachev to fight Thiago Moises at UFC Vegas 31.
Khabib Nurmagomedov prepares Islam Makhachev to fight Thiago Moises at UFC Vegas 31.
Photo by Mike Roach/Zuffa LLC

If there is one contrast between Khabib Nurmagomedov and Islam Makhachev, it’s their brand of self-promotion. Makhachev isn’t known to be the same animated, quotable speaker as “The Eagle,” and prefers to let his fighting do the talking.

But for Khabib, drumming up interest by being vocal is equally important.

“He have to talk. He have to call people (out). Because he’s the real deal. How many, like, bums we see? They all the time call someone (out) and all media talk about them. But Islam is the real deal,” Khabib told Daniel Cormier and Ryan Clark.

“He’s one of the best in the world. And I believe he’s top ten in pound-for-pound right now. But Islam little bit quiet, he don’t like too much talk.

“After this fight, he have to call out champion or whatever. He have to tell UFC.”

Khabib later used himself as a sample success story of getting the fight you want by making your intentions known.

“Remember when I was 5-0 in UFC? 2013, when I just beat Pat Healy in Canada,” he recalled. “I told UFC, ‘UFC, I am 5-0, give me title shot!’ Because in my mind, I believe I am the best in the world. It was, like, long time ago, but I was very hungry, very focused. You have to be like this.”

“Islam little bit different. But without camera, I know me and Islam, we have same goal, same strategy, same good grappling, wrestling, striking. We good everywhere because we was training together… more than 20 years we training together.

“I know, and all people who training with Islam, they know how good Islam. He just have to finish this guy and beginning of next year, fight for the title. For winner (between) Dustin Poirier and Charles Oliveira.”

The number five-ranked Makhachev, who is on an eight-fight win streak, will face Dan Hooker at UFC 267 in Abu Dhabi this weekend.