An important lightweight scrap headlines Saturday’s UFC Vegas 31 fight card from the UFC APEX Center. In that matchup, Islam Makhachev, who is ranked No. 9 in the official UFC rankings, faces the No. 14 Thiago Moises.
Makhachev is a significant favorite heading into this scrap. He also has some pressure coming from one of his cornermen, former UFC lightweight champion.
“This Saturday, you have to prove yourself,” Nurmagomedov told ESPN. “Show the world who is Islam Makhachev. Not only Khabib’s brother. No. He has to be his own. Islam Makhachev. Best in the world. Eight-fight win streak. He beat everyone.”
Makhachev entered the UFC with an 11-0 record. He won his UFC debut. In his second bout with the promotion, Adriano Martins scored a first-round knockout over Makhachev. Since that loss, Makhachev has won seven straight outings. He is coming off a third-round submission win over Drew Dober.
Nurmagomedov might have high hopes for Makhachev, but his opponent doesn’t see those hopes being realized.
“This fight against Islam Makhachev is a great opportunity for me to break into the top 10,” Moises told MMA Junkie. “I’m coming off three great wins in a row. They weren’t just wins, but wins over excellent fighters in our weight class — Michael Johnson, Bobby Green, and Alexander Hernandez. A win over Islam will extend my UFC winning streak to four, and it will bring me up to the top nine or even top eight. I’ll be in the mix to sooner or later get a title shot. The hype around Islam, including his association with Khabib Nurmagomedov, will only contribute to that.”
As Moises said, he is on a three-fight winning streak heading into this matchup. His wins over Hernandez and Green came via decision. Moises submitted Michael Johnson in the second round. He began his UFC career on a 1-2 run before the winning streak.
UFC Vegas 31 takes place Saturday at UFC APEX. Here is a look at how Makhachev and Moises match up in important statistical categories.
UFC Vegas 31
|Sig. Strikes Landed Per Min.||2||2.85|
|Strikes Absorbed Per Minute||0.77||3.88|
|Takedown Avg./15 min||3.46||1.06|
|Submission Average Per 15 min||1||1.2|