After losing that one fight against Adriano Martins in 2015, Islam Makhachev has been on a tear. The 29-year-old Dagestani compiled an eight-fight win streak on Saturday at UFC Vegas 31 by dealing Thiago Moises his first stoppage loss via fourth-round submission.
Makhachev’s ultimate goal is to follow in the footsteps of his comrade Khabib Nurmagomedov, and he doesn’t want to waste any time. On Saturday night alone, he’d made three callouts to some of the biggest names at 155-pounds. The first one on his list: Rafael dos Anjos, whom he was scheduled to fight last November but had to pull out.
“Why all these guys run? Nobody want to take this fight? You took this fight versus RDA before two weeks?” Makhachev told Paul Felder during the Octagon interview. “Now, I’m gonna give him, three, four month. Let’s do this. You can run, but you can’t hide. I’m coming, I’m here.”
The next callout was addressed to Michael Chandler, who made his debut at the analyst desk on ESPN.
"Chandler, if you hear me, let's go, let's do this. You come from Bellator, I want to check your skills."@MAKHACHEVMMA calls out @MikeChandlerMMA, who's watching from the #UFCVegas31 post-show set pic.twitter.com/pAhZ7UOyTI— ESPN MMA (@espnmma) July 18, 2021
“Chandler, if you hear me, let’s go. Let’s do this. You come from Bellator, I want to check your skills,” Makhachev said on the ESPN broadcast, which Chandler appreciated for the “slickness”
But if it were up to him, the next fight he’d be signing a contract for would be against Tony Ferguson, just because of the unfinished business.
“If they gonna give me choice, let’s do Tony,” Makhachev told the media during the post-fight scrum. “Because we have good history with him. Khabib supposed to fight with him, like five, six time. Let’s finish this. I’m gonna finish this. I’m gonna show people around the world, like, Tony not Khabib level.
“Let’s do end of this year. One more fight, I’m gonna finish one more fight, and I’m gonna be Fighter of the Year.”
His manager Ali Abdelaziz also has other plans, but this seems more personal.
After Saturday night, the number nine-ranked Makhachev has now improved his record to 20-1 (12 wins by stoppage).